Having ended 2016 as the world number one, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and a knight in the New Year’s Honours list it’s been a brilliant few months for Sir Andy Murray. The British number one heads to Melbourne this week in an attempt to win the Australian Open – a title which has eluded him despite five previous final appearances.
The 105th Australian Open promises to be an intriguing affair, with Serena Williams also looking to break records by winning the women’s title. Keep reading four our 2017 Australian Open tennis betting preview.
Considering that six of the last seven Australian Open finals have featured either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray it’s perhaps no surprise that the world’s top two head the betting this year.
The great rivals have played each other in four of the last six Melbourne finals with the Serb prevailing on each occasion. Indeed, another title for Djokovic would see him eclipse Roy Emerson as the most successful player in the tournament’s history.
Murray has lost each of his five Australian Open finals – four to Djokovic and one to Federer – and in truth he’s never come close to the title, winning just two sets in his handful of final appearances. This year could be different, though, as the Scot has proved to be a match for his nemesis over recent months.
The 29 year old will go into a Grand Slam tournament as the top seed for the very first time, with his win over Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Finals cementing his place at the top of the world rankings. Murray ended 2016 on a brilliant run of success – he didn’t lose a match from September to the end of the season – and so goes into the tournament as the joint favourite.
Little can separate these two great champions, but Djokovic did get the better of Murray in Qatar earlier this month and can win his seventh title at 13/8.
For the first time in 15 years, Roger Federer starts a Grand Slam tournament outside the world’s top ten. Now 35, only Ken Rosewall has won a major tournament at an older age and you have to go back to 2012 for Federer’s last Grand Slam win. Saying that, he has reached at least the last four in Melbourne in 12 of the last 13 years, so the 18/1 available will tempt a few each-way punters.
Milos Raonic enjoyed the best year of his career in 2016 and the tall Canadian is 20/1 to win his first Grand Slam title. 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and 2009 winner Rafael Nadal are both available at 12/1.
Just as with the men’s event, the women’s tournament in Melbourne also looks as if it could be a two-horse race between the world’s top ranked players.
Angelique Kerber finished the year as world number one after reaching three of the four Grand Slam finals and the Olympic tennis final. The German won her first major at Melbourne last year, setting her up for an impressive year where she also won the US Open title.
Having beaten Serena Williams in this event last year the 28 year old should be confident going into the tournament and she looks decent value at 7/2.
Serena’s Wimbledon title in 2016 saw her draw level with Steffi Graf on 22 Grand Slam titles and she can eclipse the German’s record if she can win a seventh Australian Open title this month. Having been out of the game since the US Open she should be refreshed and in good health although it’s worth remembering that the 35 year old has won just one of the last six titles in Melbourne. Williams is the 5/2 favourite.
With recent Australian Open winners including Kerber, Li Na, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters, this is perhaps the most open of all the major tournaments. World number four Simona Halep is surely due a good run at a major this year, with the 2014 French Open her only major final appearance.
Her record at Melbourne is mixed – two quarter finals and three first round losses in the last five years – but she could go well at 8/1.
A better bet could be Dominika Cibulkova who comes into the tournament as arguably the form player in the women’s game. The 27 year old is a previous Australian Open finalist and ended 2016 by winning the WTA Finals tournament at her first attempt, ending the season at a career-high ranking of number five.
The Slovakian looks a really sound each-way bet at 25/1.
Since 1970, the ATP Tour have played a version of the World Tour Finals at the end of the season. For the last seven years this tournament has been held in London, and this November eight of the top ranked players in the world will compete for the title and over $2 million in prize money.
Andy Murray is the favourite heading into this year’s event. Keep reading for our 2016 ATP World Tour Finals preview.
Having spent 76 weeks as the second best player in men’s tennis, Andy Murray has finally become the first British man to sit at the top of the world rankings.
Murray finally overhauled Novak Djokovic at the Paris Masters, ending the Serb’s 28 month reign as world number one. The Scot is the 26th man to hold the top ranking and joins such greats as Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, John McEnroe and Rafael Nadal.
Having won four tournaments in a row and 19 consecutive matches, Murray is the favourite for this year’s end-of-season showpiece despite the fact that he has never even reached the final of the tournament in seven previous attempts.
Djokovic has dominated this event in recent years and has won the last four titles at the O2. If the Serb remains unbeaten for this tournament and takes the title he will immediately return to the summit of men’s tennis, and so Murray has an extra incentive to play well in London.
Murray has the more difficult group, having been drawn against Stan Wawrinka, the dangerous Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in the John McEnroe group. The world number one is the 5/4 favourite with Djokovic available at 11/8.
For the first time since 2001, Roger Federer will miss the end of season tournament and with Rafael Nadal also missing as he recovers from injury, there is an unfamiliar feel to this year’s line up. World number ten Tomas Berdych is also absent – the first time the Czech hasn’t featured at the O2 since 2009.
It’s hard to look beyond the ‘big two’ in London, but Stan Wawrinka has long been the ‘best of the rest’ and the 31 year old has a decent record at this event. In his last three visits he has emerged from the group stage every time, losing in the semi-final for three straight years. He looked out of sorts in defeat to a German qualifier in Paris last week but could be a decent each-way bet at 10/1 here.
Milos Raonic has enjoyed his best year to date, reaching the Wimbledon final and the semi-finals in Australia. The Canadian has been really consistent in the big ATP events this year, reaching the last eight in all but two of the Masters 1000 tournaments and the big server is now up to fourth in the world rankings.
There may be a slight concern about the injury that forced him out of the Paris Masters and he did lose in the round robin stage in London on his one previous appearance. He is 20/1 to win in London.
There are two debutants at the showpiece event this year. Gael Monfils has enjoyed his best ever year at the age of 30 having reached the semi-finals of the US Open and the Frenchman is joined in the draw by Dominic Thiem, the young Austrian who has benefited from Nadal’s absence to qualify.
Monfils is a 18/1 chance while you can back Thiem at 25/1, the same price as former US Open champion Marin Cilic. Previous London semi-finalist Kei Nishikori completes the line-up.
Just four teams remain in this season’s Davis Cup and reigning champions Great Britain are amongst them. There will be a passionate crowd in Glasgow to cheer on the Murray brothers in their semi final against Argentina while the second semi sees Croatia take on France in Zadar.
Keep reading for your 2016 Davis Cup semi finals tennis betting preview.
It took Great Britain 79 years to win back the Davis Cup but now the team are just one match away from reaching an unprecedented second final in two years. After excellent victories over Japan and Serbia earlier this year, GB have a home fixture on the hard courts of Glasgow this weekend against the 6th seeds Argentina.
Coach Leon Smith has named a five man squad for the fixture and he couldn’t have asked for his team to be in better form. Andy Murray enjoyed a great summer at Wimbledon and the Olympics and his defeat in the last eight at Flushing Meadow means he will be more rested than expected.
Brother Jamie won the US Open doubles title – his second Grand Slam title of 2016 – while Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund have reached career-high rankings after their excellent US Open runs. Evans reached round three in New York and has risen to number 53 in the world while Edmund went a step further and is now the world number 55.
Opponents Argentina have won the last three meetings between the nations and have included former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in their squad. del Potro has been in excellent form in recent weeks, and his match-up with Murray promises to be the highlight of the weekend after their epic Olympic final just a few weeks ago.
Federico Delbonis and Guido Pella are just inside the world’s top 50 and their clashes in the singles could be key.
Great Britain boast the home advantage and are just 3/10 to win. Argentina are 11/5.
It has been 15 years since France won the ninth of their Davis Cups and they are the favourites to win this weekend’s tie in Croatia.
Considering that France boast two of the world’s top 12 players and the leading doubles partnership in the world, it’s perhaps no surprise that they are 8/15 to win on the hard indoor courts at the Kresimir Cosic Hall, Zadar.
Gael Monfils had an excellent run to the US Open semi finals this year while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has long been one of the world’s top 20 players. Coach Yannick Noah can also call on the excellent doubles team of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues-Herbert who also reached the US Open semis this year.
Croatia are this year’s surprise package, having seen off last year’s beaten finalists Belgium and the USA on their way to the last four. Despite being 2-0 down to the Americans in the last round, Marin Cilic, Ivan Dodig and Borna Coric staged a superb comeback in Portland to carry the away side through to the last four.
On his day, Cilic is a match for anyone in world tennis while Coric is one of the best young talents in the game. Throw in doubles specialist Dodig and the home side could offer some value at 11/8.
Davis Cup tennis betting
This year sees the 136th US Open and it promises to be an intriguing tournament. The men’s event looks like a two-horse race between world number one Novak Djokovic and the in-form Andy Murray, while Serena Williams is chasing a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title.
Keep reading for your 2016 US Open tennis betting preview.
After the French Open final, there was much talk about the domination of men’s tennis by Novak Djokovic. The Serb was in imperious form, had just won his second Grand Slam title of 2016 and was crusing towards an unprecedented calendar Grand Slam of titles.
Fast forward three months and much has changed. Djokovic was unexpectedly beaten in the third round at Wimbledon – the first time he has failed to make at least the last eight at a Grand Slam since 2009 – before losing his first round match at the Olympics earlier this month.
However, the Serb arrived at last year’s US Open with similar question marks over his form or fitness and ended up winning the tournament at a price of 5/4, so he certainly can’t be ruled out. He’s reached the last four at the last nine US Opens and so remains a worthy favourite at evens.
While Djokovic has been struggling, Andy Murray has been in superb form. The world number two enjoyed a 22 match winning streak which incorporated Queens Club, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games before coming to an unexpected end at the hands of Marin Cilic in the final in Cincinnati.
Murray is playing the best tennis of his life and a few days rest before the final Grand Slam of the year will do him the world of good. Murray looks a terrific bet at 2/1.
The bookies certainly think that the tournament is a two horse race considering that the next most likely contender, Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, is a 16/1 chance.
Juan Martin del Potro could be an interesting pick at 20/1. The Argentinean has been in good form in recent weeks having recovered from injury and beat Djokovic and Nadal in Rio before losing an epic four-set final to Murray. 2014 champion Marin Cilic is available at 25/1.
For years, backing Serena Williams was the way to profit in Majors tennis. In the last year or so things have changed, however, and the world number one’s Wimbledon win was her first Grand Slam title in four attempts.
Williams was the 10/11 tournament favourite last year before falling agonisingly short of a calendar Grand Slam by losing to the unseeded Roberta Vinci and the 24 year old then lost the final of both the Australian and French Opens.
On her day Serena remains the best in the world, but as defeat to Elina Svitolina in Rio showed, she is increasingly vulnerable. Williams is the 11/8 favourite this year.
Beyond the favourite there are a couple of dozen players with genuine ambitions of winning the title. Last year I said that I thought Angelique Kerber had a Grand Slam title in her somewhere, although the 40/1 chance waited until the next Major to come good. The German is now up to second in the world after an excellent 2016 and the Rio silver medallist should go well at 10/1.
Agnieszka Radwanska is always a threat at Majors and is a standout 25/1 to win her first Grand Slam title. Home favourite Madison Keys is now in the world’s top ten and could go well at 18/1 while Olympic champion Monica Puigis a 40/1 chance.
US Open tennis betting
Players looking for some grass court practice in the run-up to Wimbledon can often be found at the Queen’s Club. Since 1979 this has been the traditional warm-up event for SW19 and the tournament – now the Aegon Championships – attracts some of the sport’s big names.
Eight of the world’s top 20 are in attendance here including three former Grand Slam winners. Andy Murray is a four time winner and is once again favourite for this year’s tournament having won the title last year. Keep reading for our 2016 Queen’s Club betting preview.
Murray leads this year’s Queen’s Club betting
Eight players have won the Queen’s Club tournament on four occasions, but this year Andy Murray could win a record fifth title and eclipse the likes of John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Andy Roddick.
Murray is the top seed and tournament favourite having won the event in the odd-numbered years since 2009. The Scot comes into the grass court season after a decent 2016 where he would have won two Grand Slam titles were it not for the genius of the world number one Novak Djokovic.
Murray’s best chance of a third Major comes at Wimbledon and success at Queen’s would be a boost in the run-up to the big event.
It would be fair to say that grass is not Stan Wawrinka’s favourite surface although the two-time Grand Slam winner has been improving in recent years. He has reached the last eight at Wimbledon in the last two years but was defeated at Queen’s last year by the big-serving Kevin Anderson.
A better bet this year might be Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman is back in the world’s top ten after an excellent year and he has reached at least the last eight of his most recent three Grand Slam tournaments. The fourth seed has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals on two occasions – most recently in 2015 – and could go well on a surface he likes.
Milos Raonic has been hanging around the world’s top ten for a couple of years now and the Canadian is another former Wimbledon semi-finalist.
The 25 year old reached the quarter finals last year on his debut at Queen’s before being knocked out by Gilles Simon in three sets. Raonic is the third seed again this year and should do well.
Marin Cilic is a former winner of this event and both he and John Isner can use their big serve as a powerful weapon on grass, although neither are in superb form. Cilic went out of the French Open in the first round while Isner was beaten at Queen’s last year by the unfancied Viktor Troicki.
Rafael Nadal has been forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury and so there are three British wildcards. Kyle Edmund, James Ward and Dan Evans are all members of the successful GB Davis Cup team and will all play in the first round.
The two weeks at SW19 is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and this year is the 129th Wimbledon tournament. Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova are the defending champions but, as ever, all eyes will be on the British challengers.
Keep reading for your 2015 Wimbledon betting preview.
There were plenty of people who thought that Novak Djokovic would stroll to his first French Open title this year. The Serb was in great form throughout the tournament but ended up losing to an inspired Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros and so the career Grand Slam will have to wait another year.
With a 45-8 record at Wimbledon and having lost just one match since 1 March the world number one is a clear 11/8 favourite to win his third Wimbledon. He has reached at least the last four in each of the last five years and three of the last four finals and is certainly the man to beat.
The man who defeated him in the 2013 final claims that he is in a better place than he was when he won the title two years ago. Andy Murray won his fourth Queen’s Club title last week and is in excellent form. He said: “I feel I have improved [since 2013]. Physically I’m definitely in a better place than I was then, when I was having problems with my back – not so much on the grass but on the other surfaces.
“I feel I’m using my variety very well now, something that maybe I wasn’t the past couple of years. [I have] more experience, more matches. There are a few things I’m doing a little bit better.”
Murray is the third seed which means he’s likely to face Djokovic in the semi-finals. The Scot is the 5/2 second favourite.
As with the French Open, the bottom half of the draw could provide an opportunity for a lower ranked player to make an impact on the grass. The most popular contender to emerge from this half of the draw would be Roger Federer and you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to admit to wanting the Swiss player to win one more Wimbledon title.
The seven time champion pushed Djokovic all the way in last year’s final and won his traditional pre-Wimbledon grass court tournament warm-up last week. He is available at 13/2 which could represent decent each-way value.
Stan Wawrinka was Federer’s conqueror at Roland Garros although the fourth seed has a terrible record at Wimbledon. 2014 was the first year he’d ever got past the fourth round and so I wouldn’t be rushing to back him at 16/1. Similarly, Rafael Nadal is down to number 10 in the world and could well be an early casualty this year.
Nick Kyrgios reached the last eight next year as a wild card and could go deep into the tournament at 66/1 while big-serving Kevin Anderson is always a danger on grass and the Queen’s Club runner-up is a 100/1 chance.
While the men’s game may be dominated by a few great talents there are genuinely a couple of dozen women who harbour genuine ambitions of reaching the Wimbledon final. The WTA Tour has rarely been more competitive and the French Open showed that trying to pick a winner from the field is increasingly tough.
Saying all that, Serena Williams remains the clear favourite to win her sixth Wimbledon singles title. Having somehow won at Roland Garros despite consistently losing the opening set and suffering from flu throughout, Williams should be fitter and better prepared for SW19. Williams is now just two Grand Slam titles away from Steffi Graf’s Open era record and is the 7/4 favourite to win Wimbledon for the first time since 2012.
You can point to the fact that she has gone out of the tournament early in the last two years – in the third round last year to the unfancied Alize Cornet – but that was also true in Paris. The more important statistic is that Williams has won the last three Grand Slam events and a tournament victory here would mean she would hold all four Majors at the same time for the first time since 2003. It would also mean she would be three quarters of the way to a calendar Grand Slam.
Can anyone beat Serena? There are lots of talented players out there but most suffer from the same ailment: capable of being world-beaters on their day before losing a match they should win to a lower ranked opponent.
Petra Kvitova is a two-time champion and the second seed this year. Despite not having enjoyed a great year – she didn’t make the quarter finals at the Australian or French Open – she is up to number two in the world and her best performances have been on grass. If she can stay consistent (and it is a big ‘if’) Kvitova can go well and she has beaten Serena this year. The reigning champion is a 4/1 chance.
Outside Wimbledon, Sabine Lisicki has failed to get past the fourth round of a Major championship. On the grass, however, she is a different player and she has reached at least the last eight on her five most recent visits. The 2013 beaten finalist is actually allergic to grass and her form isn’t terrific but she could offer decent each way value at 20/1. I also like the chances of her compatriot Angelique Kerber who has won on the WTA Tour this year and beat Lisicki on grass in Birmingham.
Kerber is back in the world’s top ten after some good results and could go well at 25/1.
Since 1979, the Aegon International tournament at Queen’s Club has been the traditional warm-up for Wimbledon. Giving players the chance to get some grass court experience, the tournament is one of the oldest in the tennis calendar and is played on courts that Andy Roddick once called ‘arguably the best in the world’.
Andy Murray is a three time winner and the favourite for this year’s tournament. Keep reading for our 2015 Queen’s Club betting preview.
It’s been a good few weeks for Andy Murray. The Scot won his first clay court titles in May before an excellent run saw him reach the French Open semi-finals. He was beaten there by Novak Djokovic – his eight successive loss to the Serb – but in the world number one’s absence he is the man to beat at Queen’s.
The world number three believes that he is approaching his best form. He said: “My game, I think, is back close to where it needs to be, to be winning Slams. Physically I’m back there again.
“Obviously now with the grass-court season coming up, hopefully I can get myself an opportunity there and play much better going into the grass this year than I was last year.”
Murray is a three-time winner at Queen’s Club although he was surprisingly beaten in the third round last year by Radek Stepanek. Last time Murray won Queen’s he went on to win Wimbledon – the seventh man to do the grass court double – and he is certainly the clear favourite this year.
Rafael Nadal‘s defeat in Paris saw him fall to his lowest ranking in 2005 and the world number ten is looking for just his second Queen’s Club title. It would be easy to say that the Spaniard’s best days are behind him but he showed glimpses of his old self in Paris and he is still on the road to recovery after injury.
After a well-deserved week off the new French Open champion will also be at Queen’s Cub. Whether the tournament committee will let Stan Wawrinka wear his famous ‘pyjama’ shorts is another question but the 30 year old comes into the tournament in superb form.
Grass has never been the Swiss player’s favourite surface – the quarter finals at Wimbledon last year was his best performance in ten attempts – but his style should suit the surface and he’s clearly in confident form.
Another man to watch as he recovers from injury is Marin Cilic. The big Croat has struggled since his return from a shoulder problem but he’s reached the second week at Wimbledon on three occasions and his style suits the grass. Whether he is sharp enough yet is another question but he reached the final in both 2012 and 2013 – winning the tournament in 2012 – and so is certainly one to watch.
This year’s tournament will also give the Queen’s Club crowd the opportunity to say goodbye to one of the tournament’s legends. Lleyton Hewitt won the title four times between 2000 and 2006 and the Australian has been given a wild card for this year’s event.
Hewitt retires at the end of this season and this will be his final appearance at the tournament he dominated in the early 2000s.
It’s the 114th French Open and, for the next two weeks, the world’s best will slog it out on the clay courts of Roland Garros in the second Grand Slam event of 2015.
For the first time in years the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, will start as an underdog while Serena Williams is the favourite for the women’s title. Keep reading for our preview of this year’s Australian Open tennis.
It has been a fantastic year so far for the world number one and so it’s no surprise that Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win the title and complete a career Grand Slam.
The Serb is in superb form and is currently on a 23 match winning run. The world number one hasn’t lost since he was beaten in the Dubai final on 1 March and since then he has won four titles. Crucially, his most recent two tournament wins were on clay and he beat all his major rivals on the way to titles in Monte Carlo and Rome.
It’d worth remembering also that a French Open title for Djokovic would keep him on course for a Grand Slam in 2015. He is certainly the man to beat at 4/5.
Everyone knows that Rafael Nadal has a superb record at Roland Garros but it bears repeating. The Spaniard has a 66-1 win record at this tournament and his only defeat remains his four set reverse to Robin Soderling in the 2009 quarter final.
Nadal has won every other title since 2005 and is the defending champion. His form over recent weeks on his beloved clay have been varied and he will need to improve his level to win an unprecedented tenth title. He won last year when not in top form and so it isn’t beyond him to find something extra but on current form it really doesn’t look like his year. The seventh seed is available at 11/4.
A man who has suddenly found an extra gear on clay is the third seed Andy Murray. The Scot had never won a title on the surface before this month but back-to-back wins on clay in Munich and Madrid have given Murray a newfound confidence.
Murray withdrew from the Rome tournament to give himself additional time to prepare for Roland Garros and could be a real danger at 8/1.
Even in his pomp Roger Federer only won one French Open title and the 16/1 doesn’t look particularly appealing. A better bet may be Kei Nishikori who won on the clay in Barcelona and reached the semi-finals in Madrid. He’s a decent clay court player and could go well at 16/1 as could the evergreen David Ferrer who has reached at least the quarter final stage of his last five tournaments. The 2013 beaten finalist is available at 40/1.
Rumours of Serena Williams‘ demise appear to have been somewhat overstated. After her early defeats at the French Open and Wimbledon last year many experts wondered whether Williams’ era of dominance was over but on the evidence of her displays in 2015 nothing could be further from the truth.
Until the first week in May the world number one hadn’t lost a competitive match, winning the Australian Open along the way. Her defeat to Petra Kvitova in Madrid was her first in 2015 although it’s worth remembering that Williams went out in the second round in France last year. There’s not much value in the 5/2 available.
Beyond the world number one it’s a wide open tournament with a dozen potential winners, each of who has both marks in the positive and negative columns. Simona Halep was last year’s runner-up and has played well in patches although has succumbed to lower ranked players on clay in recent weeks. The same can be said of Maria Sharapova, although the reigning champion did win the Italian Open a couple of weeks ago.
If she can maintain consistency then Petra Kvitova showed in Madrid that she is a fearsome competitor on clay. The Czech player could go well here but is another that has recently lost matches she really should have won.
In an open field there could be value in some outsiders. The best of these is Carla Suarez Navarro, the Spaniard who is now in the world’s top ten. After her loss in the opening round of the Australian Open the world number eight has been on a good run, reaching the Miami Open final and the quarter-finals in Madrid. The Spaniard then beat Eugenie Bouchard, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep on the way to the final in Rome before being defeated by Sharapova in a close match.
The likes of Li Na and Francesca Schiavone have shown in recent years that it is possible for an outsider to win at Roland Garros and Suarez Navarro is an 18/1 chance.
The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam event of 2015 and promises to be an intriguing two weeks of tennis in Melbourne. The ‘big four’ in the men’s game are being reeled in by some talented youngsters while the women’s tournament is as open as it has been in years.
Keep reading for our preview of this year’s Australian Open tennis.
The world’s top two are the men to beat in Melbourne – and it could be Roger Federer’s year. The Swiss player won his 1000th career match by beating Milos Raonic in the final of the Brisbane International this month and goes into the tournament in excellent form. He is 6/1 to win.
Novak Djokovic won 25 straight matches in Melbourne before his defeat to Stan Wawrinka last year and is the 11/10 favourite. He hasn’t had the best preparation for the tournament – illness and a surprise defeat to Ivo Karlovic in Qatar – but the Serb has a superb recent record.
Andy Murray had a good end to his 2014 season – the ATP final thrashing by Roger Federer notwithstanding – and the Scot has a terrific record in Melbourne.
Murray won all his three singles matches at the recent Hopman Cup and the international team tournament has proved to be a good-warm up for the world number 6 in the past. Murray reached the final of the Australian Open on both previous occasions when he prepared for it by playing at the Hopman Cup and comes into the tournament in better shape than last year.
“Everyone prepares in different ways,” Murray said. “I just feel that when I have got to Australia earlier, it’s made a difference, getting used to this sort of heat. I feel like I have played my best in Australia when I have got here early.”
Murray is a three time finalist in Melbourne and is 7/1 to win his first Australian Open title.
Rafael Nadal last won the Australian Open in 2009 and was beaten in last year’s final. The Spaniard has endured a tough start to 2015 and a 6-2 6-0 thrashing by Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi was followed by a three-set defeat to 34 year old German Michael Berrer in Qatar.
It may also be worth keeping an eye on Tomas Berdych. The big Czech reached the quarter finals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and the semi-finals last year. At 25/1 he offers good each-way value.
Reigning champion Li Na’s retirement from tennis means that there are just three previous Australian Open winners in the field. It’s a wide open tournament but, once again, Serena Williams is the player to beat.
The 5/2 favourite is seeking her sixth title but it’s worth remembering that it has been five years since Williams won in Melbourne and her form of late has been inconsistent. Playing at the recent Hopman Cup, Williams took the unusual step of ordering a coffee while on court having lost the first set to Flavia Pennetta 6-0. Williams rebounded to win that match in three sets, but was demolished 6-1 6-1 in 50 minutes by Eugenie Bouchard in her next match.
On her day she is still the best in the world but the value lies elsewhere.
Agnieska Radwanska helped Poland to win the recent Hopman Cup and the world number six beat Serena Williams for the first time in the process. The 25 year old has been gradually improving in Melbourne, reaching the quarter finals in 2013 before being beaten in last year’s semi final by Dominika Cibulkova.
Radwanska has added Martina Navratilova to her coaching team as she pursues her first Grand Slam title and I think she offers superb each way value at 20/1.
Maria Sharapova is a former winner and 5/1 second favourite while two time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is available at 12/1. Azarenka is finally fit after a long injury layoff but lost her comeback match at the Brisbane International to rising star Karolina Pliskova.
Known as the ‘World Cup of Tennis’ the Davis Cup reaches its conclusion this weekend as Switzerland take on France in this year’s final.
It’s the one major trophy that eludes world number two Roger Federer and he will be desperate to win the title for Switzerland for the first time. However, France boast an extremely strong line-up and a win in Lille would see them become the third most successful nation in the tournament’s history.
Keep reading for our preview of the 2014 Davis Cup final.
When you can boast two Grand Slam champions and two of the world’s top five players then it’s clear that you go into a Davis Cup tie as the favourites. Switzerland have never won the Davis Cup and it is the one trophy missing from Roger Federer’s glittering cabinet.
However, it’s not been the best of build-ups to the tournament for Severin Luthi’s side. The semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals saw Swiss team-mates Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka embroiled in a fierce argument after the world number two had saved four match points on the way to a 4-6 7-5 7-6 win.
Wawrinka was upset with comments apparently made by Federer’s wife, Mirka, at a vital point in their semi-final match. The pair then allegedly had a furious bust-up in a private room backstage at the O2 arena just days ahead of the Davis Cup final.
The Swiss team’s problems were then compounded when Federer had to withdraw from the final of the showpiece event due to a back injury and he may still not be fit for the weekend.
With both players on top form and in the right mindset they would be fearsome opponents. However, question marks remain despite Federer tweeting a picture alongside his team-mates this week suggesting that the problems have been dealt with.
It’s been 13 years since France have won the Davis Cup and their last two Final appearances have ended in defeat. However, the team announced by captain Arnaud Clement is the strongest in living memory and boasts four players all inside the top 30.
World number 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leads the team and will be joined by Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau, ranked number 5 in the world in doubles.
France have lost their last two Davis Cup finals in a deciding singles match and so the destination of this year’s trophy could be decided by whether Arnaud Clement selects the right man to face Stan Wawrinka on the final day. Both Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Julien Benneteau have a winning record against Wawrinka while Tsonga and Richard Gasquet have both beaten Federer on clay.
One of the issues facing France could be their choice to play the final on clay. Federer and Wawrinka disputed the final of the Monte Carlo Masters on the surface earlier this year while none of the French team have performed well on the surface in 2014. Gael Monfils’ run to the quarter-finals of the French Open was their best effort on the surface and Wawrinka has described France’s decision to play the tie on clay as “a big error”.
However, with none of the team involved in the ATP Tour Finals, France have had plenty of time to practice on clay at their training camp in Bordeaux. They are 6/5 to win.
There shouldn’t be much to choose between the two sides but I fancy Switzerland to end their long wait for a Davis Cup title.
The last four meetings between the two sides have been split evenly, and there is no distinct home advantage with the away nation having won all of the last five meetings between the two nations. I also think that the surface will benefit Federer and Wawrinka more than the French players.
Back Switzerland at 4/6.
The curtain comes down on the 2014 European Tour season this weekend as the top 60 players head to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy has already secured the Race to Dubai title but with a bonus $5 million on offer to the top 15 players on the points list there’s still plenty to play for. Keep reading for our preview of the 2014 DP World Tour Championship.
It has been another terrific year for the world’s number one golfer who was confirmed as Race to Dubai winner for the second time this week.
Rory McIlroy has finished the year as Europe’s top golfer twice in the last three years and his impressive points total is more than twice his nearest rival. The 25 year old said: “Winning it for the first time two years ago was a fantastic feeling, but I feel like I’m now a more complete player and my all-round game has moved to another level. I’ve put in a lot of hard work this season, with my game and my fitness, so it’s nice to get the rewards at the end of it.
“In some ways the pressure is off next week, but I’ll fight very hard to end the year on a high with another victory. I’ve a great record in this tournament, and in Dubai generally, having secured my first European Tour win there in 2009.”
McIlroy birdied each of the last five holes on the way to a win in Dubai in 2012 and is the 5/1 favourite this week.
Henrik Stenson has put up a great defence of his Race to Dubai title and last year’s winner is up to second in the European rankings after a good performance in Turkey last week. The Swede shot 25 under par to win this tournament in 2013 and is 8/1 to retain his title.
Ian Poulter has dragged himself into the Bonus Pool with two great performances in the last fortnight. The 38 year old would have won in Turkey last week was it not for a third round 75 and ended up a shot behind eventual winner Brooks Koepka.
Three weeks ago you’d have been able to back Poulter at long odds but on current form he is in to 16/1.
It’s been a year to forget for Luke Donald although there were signs in Antalya that some of his old form was returning. He shot a 67 and a 68 to finish T32 in Turkey and has a great record in Dubai.
Donald recorded a top five finish in this event in each of the last three years and so could be one to watch at 40/1.
Since 2009, the ATP Tour’s season finale has been in London. The ATP World Tour Finals brings together the eight players who have accrued the most rankings points over the year – although Rafa Nadal misses out this year due to injury – and a lively crowd at the O2 Arena will be treated to some top-class tennis over the next week.
Novak Djokovic is the world number one and defending champion but there will be plenty of support for home favourite Andy Murray who is on a good run of form. Keep reading for our preview of the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals.
Novak Djokovic has won the last two World Tour Finals and is, unsurprisingly, the 5/6 favourite to win his fourth title.
The Serb recently became a father for the first time and is on a 27-match winning streak indoors. He is the form player having won in Paris last week and has never lost in the final at this event. The 25 year old is a worthy favourite, particularly as there are question marks about the other men in his group.
Marin Cilic withdrew from both the Valencia Open and BNP Paribas Masters in order to recover from a wrist injury that threatened his appearance at the O2. The Croat won his most recent tournament and looks the most likely to join Djokovic in the semi-finals. He could be an interesting each-way bet at 12/1.
Tomas Berdych is a perennial qualifier for the end-of-showpiece having reached the Tour Finals for the fifth time. However, he has only once progressed to the semi-final stage and looks unlikely to win a first title at 22/1.
Over the last month Stan Wawrinka has been in awful form. Most recently beaten by Kevin Anderson in Paris, the Australian Open champion also lost in his first tournament match three times in the month of October.
He did reach the semi-finals at the O2 on his debut in 2013 but on current form could well struggle.
It would be fair to say that Roger Federer has enjoyed his best year since 2011. The Swiss is ranked number two in the world and, if he wins his seventh title in London, could overhaul rival Novak Djokovic and end the season as the top ranked man in the world.
Federer has a 44-11 win record at the end of season tournament since he first qualified in 2002. Six times a winner, he will be keen to progress to the final and he is a 7/2 shot to win his first World Tour Finals since 2011.
Three months ago, Andy Murray was languishing outside the world’s top ten and in danger of missing the end-of-season showpiece. Since then, Murray has won his first title in 14 months – at the Shenzhen Open – before winning both the Vienna Open and the Valencia Open.
Murray was a semi-finalist in London in both 2010 and 2012 and looks good value at 13/2. However, his defeat to Djokovic in Paris was his 23rd match in just 37 days and so fatigue could well be a factor for the Scot.
Kei Nishikori has made history by becoming the first Asian player to reach the Tour Finals in singles and could be a lively outsider at 16/1.
The Japanese star reached the US Open final and accrued more rankings points in 2014 than anyone except ‘the big three’ and Australian Open champ Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori sealed his place in London after a gutsy win over David Ferrer in Paris last week and could do well on his debut.
Milos Raonic is another making his first appearance at the end of season event and he becomes the first Canadian to qualify in the singles. His form is good – he beat Federer on the way to the final of the BNP Paribas Masters last week – and could make life hard for the other three in his group.