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Vinny Maukner

Tennis tipster and betting consultant

Vinny is a freelance writer who started putting his tips out there in 2017. Being a professional bettor for over seven years and following the yellow ball day in, day out, Vinny tries to stay ahead of the curve by scouting new talent on the lower tours as well.

Australian Open Day 11 Predictions

Ashleigh Barty (1) vs Madison Keys

To say Ashleigh Barty is cruising through this Australian Open draw is an understatement. The Aussie has lost just 17 games in 10 sets, with the closest set ending 6-4. Barty should also be well prepared for her semifinal matchup against Madison Keys as she’s faced big hitters in all her last three matches: Camila Giorgi, Amanda Anisimova and Jessica Pegula.

Keys is the last unseeded player remaining and as convincing as the longest winning streak of her career (10) may look, both Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejčíková were struggling big-time in their losses to the American. Starting the night session, balls won’t be as lively in this semifinal match compared to Keys’s previous ones, toning down another key strength of the American. Barty is simply a class above all others and everything needs to fall into place for opponents to beat her. With Rod Laver Arena playing a little slower at night, I don’t see how Keys can overcome the world no.1 who can seemingly only be stopped by herself right now.

Australian Open pick:

Ashleigh Barty -1.5 sets at -150

Danielle Collins (27) vs Iga Świątek (7)

Another American who surprised in Melbourne is Danielle Collins, coming here with zero match practice. It’s safe to say that Collins loves the conditions Down Under, but again, these will be taken away for the most part when playing at night. Funnily enough, Collins started all of her last four matches at 11am while Iga Świątek has already played two night sessions. Not only is she used to the conditions, they simply suit her game better. Had this match been played in the heat of the day, I might have gone for the Collins ML and whilst sitting on a Świątek outright, I still think this match can go back and forth. None of them should let this opportunity slip away, which make the first set and the full game overs valuable plays.

Australian Open pick:

Over 10.5 1st set at +335

Over 2.5 sets at +150

Australian Open Bracket - women-s singles - Quarterfinals

Kokkinakis/ Kyrgios vs Granollers/ Zeballos (3)

Australian men’s doubles are back as we finish today’s Australian Open predictions. Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios are into their first semifinal and while all of Rod Laver Arena will be cheering them on, another tough task lies ahead of them with no.3 seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos. The Spanish-Argentinian combo only allowed two breaks of serve throughout their first four matches and while I’m still high on Kokkinakis/ Kyrgios together with the crowd, Australian Open betting odds have already caught up with them. The Aussies do have the ability to keep this close though and I’m not expecting a whole lot of breaks, so another over could be on the cards.

Australian Open pick:

Over 22.5 games at -140

Australian Open Bracket - men-s singles - Quarterfinals

Australian Open Day 10 Predictions

Iga Świątek (7) vs Kaia Kanepi

Our last outright prediction standing in the Australian Open women’s draw is Iga Świątek. The No.7 seed went through her first real test in round four when she fought off Sorana Cirstea to win from a set down. Before that, Świątek only lost two games per set on average in her wins against Harriet Dart, Rebecca Peterson and Daria Kasatkina. Tomorrow, she’s up against giant killer Kaia Kanepi, whose most recent victim was No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka. To be fair, the Belarusian still struggled with her serve, committing 15 double faults, and Kanepi wasn’t too convincing in her wins over Marie Bouzková and Maddison Inglis either.

The match is scheduled second on Rod Laver Arena, so assuming the match will finish before the forecasted thunderstorm, the two will battle in the most brutal heat of the day. I wonder how resistant Kanepi is going to be in these conditions against a versatile player like Świątek. The young Pole, while playing more aggressive and trying to dominate points, can defend a lot better than Kanepi’s previous opponents. Kanepi also showed some nerves as she put up four unforced errors in a row from 40-0 when serving for the match. All things considered, I think Świątek is the steadier player in this matchup. The Pole has every shot in her repertoire and especially her use of the drop shot could trouble Kanepi. All of Kanepi’s opponents have been vulnerable and I would be surprised if she was gifted anything from Świątek.

Australian Open pick:

- Under 20.5 games at -108

Australian Open Bracket - women-s singles - Quarterfinals@2x

Koolhof/ Skupski (10) vs Ebden/ Purcell

Australian tennis fans still have plenty to root for, be it Ashleigh Barty, Dylan Alcott or the remaining doubles pairings as Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell could join Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in the Australian Open men’s doubles semifinals. The two will face Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski tomorrow. The European duo are still undefeated in 10 matches since teaming up at the start of 2022, having won the leadup tournaments in Melbourne and Adelaide.

While it’s always tough to oppose in-form teams, we only get these odds on Ebden/ Purcell because of Koolhof/ Skupski’s winning streak. The Australians are 6-1 over the last two Grand Slams themselves, with their only loss coming in heartbreaking fashion against eventual US Open winners Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. Ebden/Purcell had the much tougher draw getting here as they beat No.4 seeds Cabal/ Farah and No.13 seeds Klaasen/ McLachlan while neither of Koolhof/ Skupski’s opponents were of the same caliber. To me, the Australians are the more talented team, so I’m happy to take them at underdog odds, also expecting another great atmosphere at Kia Arena.

Australian Open pick:

- Ebden/ Purcell ML at +115

Australian Open Bracket - men-s singles - Quarterfinals@2x

Australian Open Day 9 Predictions

Barbora Krejčíková (4) vs Madison Keys

It’s quarterfinal time in Melbourne and our Australian Open predictions continue.

The most improved player of 2021 still continues to grow. Barbora Krejčíková was absolutely flawless in her fourth-round win over Victoria Azarenka, putting up 23 winners and only 12 unforced errors. In return, Azarenka committed 28 unforced errors and while the Belarusian wasn’t at her very best, Krejčíková’s defensive skills had a lot to do with it. Being an elite doubles player for years now, her great feel for the ball helps her to get back into rallies and force plenty of errors. Putting enough depth on your defensive shots is crucial and the Czech has developed that to perfection.

On the other side of the net, Madison Keys is on the best run of her career. Winning nine matches in a row is a feat she has only achieved once before when she won in Cincinnati and got to round four of the US Open in 2019. The scoreline against Paula Badosa looks impressive, although it must be said that the Spaniard hasn’t been 100% fitness-wise. I’m not trying to belittle Keys, but she hasn’t faced any players of Krejčíková’s defensive caliber yet. If she can keep her game free of unforced errors, Keys can surely win this match. However, I think Krejčíková’s defense is just too good nowadays and she will force the unpleasant extra shot from Keys, making life difficult for the American.

Australian Open pick:

- Barbora Krejčíková ML at -120

Gaël Monfils (17) vs Matteo Berrettini (7)

The two betting favorites actually made use of the opportunity the Australian Open men’s draw presented to them after Novak Djokovic was removed from the competition. While Gaël Monfils is yet to drop a set, Matteo Berrettini seems to hit his spots better every match. Both players struggle a bit with their fitness as tournaments progress and I think this is a lot more difficult to compensate for the Frenchman. His game heavily relies on his body and movement, while Berrettini can just serve his way through sets. Berrettini has hit the third-most aces so far and as good as Monfils’ return game is, it will be tough for him to get into rallies with the big-hitting Italian.

Australian Open pick:

- Matteo Berrettini -1.5 sets at +110

Kokkinakis/ Kyrgios (WC) vs Pütz/ Venus (6)

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios may be out in singles, but that doesn’t stop them from spicing up the Australian Open doubles draw. The Australians are two of the best shot-makers on tour, so their game was always going to fit the doubles circuit too. They beat the world’s best in Mektic/ Pavic and obviously enjoy themselves taking on all these well-tuned teams. One of those pairings is Tim Pütz and Michael Venus, who are quietly making their way towards the top of the rankings. On these Melbourne show courts, the crowd will surely have an impact and, with their skillset, I see a good chance for the Australians to make it to the semis.

Australian Open pick:

- Kokkinakis/ Kyrgios ML at -120

Australian Open All-time most wins (women)@2x

Australian Open Day 7 Predictions

Ashleigh Barty (1) vs Amanda Anisimova

Amanda Anisimova brought us some great pleasure and the 20-year-old American deserves every bit of the spotlight. After beating co-favorite Naomi Osaka, she now takes on top seed, world No.1 and overwhelming Australian Open betting favorite Ashleigh Barty. The Australian wants to finally win that home Grand Slam, on her ninth attempt. So far, she has blasted the field, only losing eight games in three matches. However, there’s a history of Barty becoming a bit more hesitant in the latter stages of the Australian Open, and who can blame her with all the national media expecting a title from her every year.

Barty has won 58 straight service games now but is facing an equally good server on Sunday. Anisimova gets better and better while still not having lost a match this year. Obviously, Barty possesses more weapons in rallies, including a vicious slice, but when a player can generate a lot of free points off their serve, 5.5 games are a lot. Anisimova could get broken in both sets and still cover that spread, so I’m happy to bet on her again.

Australian Open pick:

- Amanda Anisimova +5.5 at -120

Miomir Kecmanović vs Gaël Monfils (17)

Moving over to the Australian Open men’s draw, Miomir Kecmanović and Gaël Monfils are presented a golden opportunity in the wide open first quarter. Both have made the best of it and only the Serb has dropped a set so far. Monfils rolled his ankle in his third-round match and I wonder if that may have an impact on his game. Given the opportunity at hand and the killer instinct Kecmanović displays, I’m expecting at least four competitive sets here.

Australian Open pick:

- Over 34.5 games at -125

Australian Open Last 10 men’s finals@2x

Australian Open Day 6 Predictions

Daniel Evans (24) vs Félix Auger-Aliassime (9)

Our Australian Open predictions continue and just like our Day 5 picks, it will be hot in Melbourne on Day 6. While that’s not the only reason why I like Daniel Evans to beat Félix Auger-Aliassime, it could certainly matter. Evans comes off a walkover in round two, and has only spent one hour and 45 minutes on court so far, having beaten David Goffin in straight sets. Auger-Aliassime, on the other hand, needed eight hours and nine sets to get past Emil Ruusuvuori and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. It’s still only the third round, but that’s a massive disparity and given the conditions down under, I love to side with the more rested player.

Conditions aside, it’s a nightmare matchup for the Canadian as well. As talented as he is, he’s still super erratic. Evans will surely put Auger-Aliassime’s rally tolerance to the test with his troublesome slice. As Auger-Aliassime tends to overhit regularly, this is a recipe for disaster. Evans won their only head to head 6-2 6-3 and I do think this can be explained by the stylistic matchup. With the Canadian wanting to end points even faster when feeling his legs, I don’t think he should be favored here at all.

Australian Open pick:

- Daniel Evans ML at -103

Roberto Bautista Agut (15) vs Taylor Fritz (20)

My second Saturday pick is quickly explained. Both Roberto Bautista Agut and Taylor Fritz are playing some superb tennis early this season. Although I do agree with the moneyline odds, the over is set a game or two too low in my opinion. This should be a grueling fight over four, maybe five, sets with the winner being presented a decent chance to go far in the widest open quarter of this year’s Australian Open men’s draw.

Australian Open pick:

- Over 38.5 games at -120

Australian Open Last 10 women’s finals@2x

Australian Open Day 5 Predictions

Amanda Anisimova vs Naomi Osaka (13)

As mentioned in my tournament preview, I had high hopes for Amanda Anisimova before the Australian Open draw was made. Her early-season success and the section she was allocated took all the value out of her outright price. However, it’s not the worst idea to bet an in-form Anisimova as an underdog match by match, as was shown in her second-round win over Belinda Bencic.

Tomorrow, the 20-year-old is set to face a player of another caliber in Naomi Osaka. The former champion and world No.1 arrived here with straight-set wins over María Camila Osorio Serrano and Madison Brengle, but had some flaws in both matches. Osaka needs to put up a solid display from start to finish to keep Anisimova out of the match. The American can hit equally hard, so an early break could already be decisive.

There are only a handful of coaches that can have an immediate impact on players and Darren Cahill is one of them. Anisimova and Cahill are on a trial period in Australia and off to a 6-0 start. If Osaka is at her best, she should win eventually, however Anisimova could be up for a surprise again as she has been able to find an extra gear whenever it’s really mattered this season.

Australian Open picks:

- Amanda Anisimova ML at +250

- Over 2.5 sets at +162

Marta Kostyuk vs Paula Badosa (8)

Opposing Paula Badosa has been stressful lately, but after all her recent wins, I see some value in backing capable players against her. Australia will always hold a special place in Marta Kostyuk’s heart as she burst onto the scene in Melbourne four years ago. The Ukrainian is one of the players that should make a Badosa-like run in the near future. Her ball striking has become more consistent and she hit 33 winners in each of her first two matches. With that in mind, Kostyuk has every chance to keep this close.

Australian Open pick:

- Marta Kostyuk +4.5 games at +100

Adrian Mannarino vs Aslan Karatsev (18)

The Australian Open schedule sees Adrian Mannarino and Aslan Karatsev finish the night session on Margaret Court Arena. While that’s a bit surprising, it gives the players some extra rest which Karatsev, in particular, needs. The fact that balls are less lively at night offsets the rest advantage though. Furthermore, Mannarino is a master of redirecting pace and should give Karatsev cause for concern after taking out Hubert Hurkacz the round before. Karatsev needs to find some fresh legs to hit through Mannarino consistently. Fair play if he does, but I do like Mannarino to cover the games spread.

Australian Open pick:

- Adrian Mannarino +6.0 games at -108

Australian Open All-time most wins (men)@2x

Australian Open Day 4 Predictions

Andy Murray (WC) vs Taro Daniel (Q)

What do the Australian Open betting odds have to offer on Day 4?

Andy Murray looked a little flat towards the end of his match against Nikoloz Basilashvili, while his second-round opponent Taro Daniel was racing through his opener in straight sets just like he did in every round of the qualifiers. The Japanese, not particularly known for huge serving, has certainly worked on his opening shot. Entering the 2022 season on a career ace rate of 3.6%, Daniel now serves aces at a rate of 11.6%. That cannot only be explained by the quicker Australian courts alone.

Besides his improved serving, Daniel’s rally tolerance is still very high. With Murray potentially feeling his legs after all the (long) matches he’s played over the last few days, Daniel should be in a decent position to keep this close. Sportsbooks put 6.5 games between the two, which is at least a game too high for my liking.

Australian Open pick:

- Taro Daniel +6.5 games at -125

Kaia Kanepi vs Marie Bouzková

The Estonian giant killer is back and even though Kaia Kanepi seems to up her game the bigger her challenge is, she should be satisfied with the Australian Open schedule as it confronts her with another vulnerable player in round two. Marie Bouzková only won her second Grand Slam main-draw match on Tuesday and, while there will be many more in the future, the Czech is currently dealing with a patellar tendon issue. You wouldn’t realize it looking at the result alone, but Bouzková didn’t move at all well in her opener. She also retired in Adelaide and withdrew from another tournament. The odds suggest that both players are fit while one clearly isn’t. Make sure to bet this on a book that pays after retirements.

Australian Open pick:

- Kaia Kanepi ML at -141

Ana Konjuh vs Danielle Collins (27)

This is a match I have lined much closer. Danielle Collins entered the Australian Open draw with no match practice and a win over Caroline Dolehide shouldn’t be too big of an indicator. Ana Konjuh on the other hand keeps getting closer to her best and many forget she’s already been a top 20 player - reaching that position back in 2017. Wins over Kaia Kanepi, Markéta Vondroušová or Shelby Rogers endorse her good form and the chances are there for another upset.

Australian Open picks:

- Ana Konjuh ML at +182

- Over 2.5 sets at +175

Australian Open Day 3 Predictions

Sebastian Korda vs Corentin Moutet

After a 5-3 start to our Australian Open predictions, it’s time to move on to the second round, starting with the Australian Open men’s draw.

There have been some question marks about where Sebastian Korda’s fitness and game are at since he hasn’t played since the Next Gen Finals, but the young American put all doubts aside in his impressive first round win over No.12 seed Cameron Norrie. He did not allow a single break and cruised to a 6-3 6-0 6-4 victory as a substantial underdog.

Next up, the 21-year-old faces Corentin Moutet - who had a bit of a slow start against his countryman Lucas Pouille. While I did not expect fatigue to kick in that early in the season, players like Thanasi Kokkinakis, Aslan Karatsev or Andy Murray (even though the latter two still won) were not able to perform the way they did last week. Now, Moutet also had a long week in Adelaide where he reached the semis, and I wonder if he’s ready to defend a power player like Korda for an entire best-of-five match. The Frenchman can be a hothead at times and his struggles to defend big hitters showed last week in his 1-6 3-6 loss to Arthur Rinderknech. On these quick courts, Korda should be on the front foot for most of the match, not leaving Moutet’s tricky game any room to come to fruition.

Australian Open Pick:

- Sebastian Korda -1.5 sets at -120

Pedro Martínez vs Cristian Garín (16)

Cristian Garín has not been impressive lately, to say the least. The Chilean needed five sets and more than four-and-a-half hours to beat Facundo Bagnis in round one. While I still think highly of him, not only on clay, his hard court record just doesn’t back it up. Against another talented player that’s able to construct points well and generate some power in Pedro Martínez, I don’t see the No.16 seed cruise. The two might swap sets, but ultimately, I don’t think the books should offer us games on the Spaniard.

Australian Open pick:

- Pedro Martínez +2.5 games at -120

Miomir Kecmanović vs Tommy Paul

Another match that could end in four or five sets is the one between Miomir Kecmanović and Tommy Paul. Both are in that first mini section, where the ultimate absence of Novak Djokovic has presented a huge opportunity. Round one was more of a warmup as Kecmanović rolled past Mikhail Kukushkin in 99 minutes and Paul beat Salvatore Caruso in 116 minutes. As the draw looks feasible for the winner, I don’t expect anyone to give in early.

Australian Open pick:

- Over 3.5 sets at -167

Bernarda Pera vs Jessica Pegula (21)

One more pick from the women’s side, where Australian Open odds keep suggesting that Jessica Pegula played like she did in 2021. The No.21 seed needed almost three hours to get past Anhelina Kalinina while her next opponent Bernarda Pera pulled an upset against Ekaterina Alexandrova in half the time. Pera has all the tools to frustrate an out-of-form Pegula and another surprise should not be ruled out.

Australian Open pick:

- Bernarda Pera +4.0 games at +103

Australian Open Day 2 Predictions

Angelique Kerber (16) vs Kaia Kanepi

Continuing our Australian Open predictions, former champion Angelique Kerber is ready to take to the court tomorrow. Unfortunately, Kerber was one of the players who caught COVID during the offseason. The German tested positive in December with all the usual symptoms, which led to a shortened preseason. She only started training after Christmas and had to withdraw from the tournament in Sydney. Expectations are low, as Kerber admitted, and the Australian Open draw didn’t do her any favors either.

In her opening match, Kerber faces Kaia Kanepi – who is known as a giant killer having previously taken out Sofia Kenin, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka in the early stages of Grand Slams. The Estonian also beat Kerber at Wimbledon back in 2013. While this match is not of any sort of relevance today, it shows that Kanepi very much loves to compete on the biggest stages. Her huge game fits the quicker courts and even at 36 years of age, she’s still super fit. Kanepi’s preparation went alright as she beat Jaqueline Cristian before going down in three against Ana Konjuh two weeks ago. Against an in-form Kerber, Kanepi might not hit consistent enough, but I doubt the 2016 champ is at 100% just yet. Kerber already lost in round one here four times, including a straight sets defeat against Bernarda Pera last year, and another early exit could be on the cards on Tuesday.

Australian Open Picks:

- Kaia Kanepi ML at +175

- Kaia Kanepi +3.5 at -110

Sloane Stephens vs Emma Raducanu (17)

Emma Raducanu hasn’t been the same after her shock success at the US Open last year. An insane amount of media and sponsorship inquiries paired with award ceremonies changed her life and has maybe shifted her focus a little bit away from the tennis courts. Her first-round opponent is another Grand Slam champion in Sloane Stephens. The 2017 US Open winner is in a happy place right now after recently getting married and, unlike Raducanu, shouldn’t feel any kind of pressure. As the market has shifted Stephens towards an underdog, value lies with the American.

Australian Open Pick:

- Sloane Stephens ML at +110

Nikoloz Basilashvili (21) vs Andy Murray (WC)

Heading over to the Australian Open men’s draw, Nikoloz Basilashvili takes on Andy Murray in a rematch of last week’s battle in Sydney which Murray won in three. The Brit made hard work of it after having break leads and set points in all three sets and I expect more of the same tomorrow. Basilashvili might redline for a set or so, but Murray should be able to outgrind him the longer the match goes. Basilashvili looked better than the week prior when he struggled to breathe and had to retire from his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at ATP Cup. However, I still don’t put too much stock in his fitness and his inconsistency should show over best of five.

Australian Open Pick:

- Andy Murray -3.5 at +104

Storm Sanders (WC) vs Aryna Sabalenka (2)

From one of the biggest title contenders to one of the biggest unknowns in the field. Two weeks ago, all tennis experts would have mentioned Aryna Sabalenka as one of the favorites in the Australian Open betting. However, the Belarusian showed some serious issues on one of her favorite shots, the serve, in both leadup tournaments in Adelaide. After hitting 18 double faults in her first-round loss against Kaja Juvan, it got even worse a week later. Against Rebecca Peterson, the umpire even had to ask if Sabalenka was okay because she struggled that much with her serve. After several underarm serves and her service motion completely collapsing, Sabalenka burst into tears after actually holding to 0 for the first (and only) time in the match. She ended up with 21 double faults and losing back-to-back first-round matches.

If a player struggles that much with a certain shot, it’s super hard to regain confidence within a few days. I would be surprised if Sabalenka immediately gets back to her 2021 form, as she has been pitted against Storm Sanders in round one by the Australian Open draw. The 27-year-old Aussie improved a lot herself in singles and took a set off Elena Rybakina in Adelaide two weeks ago. If Sabalenka doesn’t find her consistency again, Sanders will be there to capitalize. The crowd might be a factor as well in early rounds, so I’m betting Sanders on both the set and the games handicap.

Australian Open picks:

- Storm Sanders +1.5 sets at +125

- Storm Sanders +4.5 games at +114

Daria Saville (WC) vs Rebecca Peterson

The aforementioned Rebecca Peterson clashes with another Australian, Daria Saville, in round one of the Australian Open women’s draw. Daria, who some of you might still know as Gavrilova, got married to fellow tennis player Luke Saville last month. The former world No. 20 also finds comfort on the courts again, beating Caty McNally and Katie Boulter while only losing to in-form players Iga Świątek and Ana Konjuh this year. I don’t really see why she should be the underdog against Peterson, who needs to hit her targets consistently against a good counterpuncher in Saville. This might be an overreaction to her win against Sabalenka, which was more or less gifted to the Swede. To me, this match should be a pick’em, so I’m happy to take Saville at these odds.

Australian Open pick:

- Daria Saville ML at +150

Maxime Cressy vs John Isner (22)

If you look up the expression “in the zone”, you might end up seeing a picture of Maxime Cressy. The Paris-born American is playing the best tennis of his life right now. Not only does his serve and volley work to perfection on these quick courts, he also improved in rallies, casually ending them with tweener winners. While he’s 8-2 this year with losses coming against quality opposition in Rafael Nadal and Daniel Evans, John Isner only won a single match against Brayden Schnur. Against an equally good server, the better movement of Cressy could be the clincher in this one. I’m betting on the in-form American at almost even odds.

Australian Open pick:

- Maxime Cressy ML at -115

Australian Open tournament betting preview

Australian Open Men’s Draw

Never before has tennis been talked about for such a long time in worldwide mainstream media. Unfortunately, that’s not because of the sport itself but because of the ongoing case of men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic and his vaccination status. While finishing this preview, Australia’s immigration minister Alex Hawke decided to cancel Djokovic’s visa “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”. Even though the chances he gets to play are heading towards zero now, his lawyers will surely challenge the decision, leaving elements of this preview in an uncertain position.

Even if the Serb is eventually cleared to play, his condition might not be where he wants it to be. It’s no secret that his body is his sanctuary and being locked up in a hotel for days without the customized food he’s used to could absolutely have an impact. It’s safe to say that Djokovic has never been so unprepared, so there might be a surprise or two within this year’s Australian Open predictions.

Disclaimer: Some of these odds may change after the decision of Mr Hawke.

Quarter 1: The Djokovic decision

Obviously, the first quarter depends on whether Djokovic gets to play or not. If Djokovic’s visa stays canceled, No.5 seed Andrey Rublev will move into the Serb’s spot. Either way, I’m not looking to bet this uncertain version of Djokovic, nor Rublev, who contracted COVID at the end of 2021 and who still struggles against top-tier opponents late in big tournaments. Whoever starts the Australian Open from the top may already have a challenging second rounder as up-and-coming American Tommy Paul awaits. Apart from that, the first eighth of the draw looks manageable. Gaël Monfils, another seed that could still be moved to the second half, should have some highlight plays and wins, but relying on his body would take a lot of trust at this point in his career.

Things get a lot more interesting in the second part of the first quarter. Seeded players Cameron Norrie, Pablo Carreño Busta, Carlos Alcaraz and Matteo Berrettini are all capable of going on a run. Some of the better unseeded players in Sebastian Korda, Corentin Moutet, Fabio Fognini, Márton Fucsovics and Brandon Nakashima are also part of this section - one of the toughest of the draw. Carreño Busta’s draw is a little easier than Norrie’s, which is why I have him making the second week. The projected third round clash between Carlos Alcaraz and Matteo Berrettini could become one of the matches of the tournament and I can absolutely see the young Spaniard taking out the #7 seed just like he did in Vienna late last year. Alcaraz hasn’t played since demolishing his peers at the ATP Next Gen Finals, however, some of the practice footage confirmed my impression of him being a real dark horse. The 18-year-old is one of, if not the best, mover on tour already and his fitness will be vital in the Australian sun. Again, everything comes down to whether Djokovic plays or not, but if he doesn’t, I would be running to bet Alcaraz to win the first quarter.

Quarter 2: Nasty draw for Nadal

Barring any injuries, the draw for the second quarter is set, with Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal as the top seeds. Both have difficult draws and Nadal especially could be tested early on. His first-round match against Marcos Giron shouldn’t be a problem, but after that, an injury-free Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is finally fulfilling his potential, awaits. The Aussie is on a 6-1 run, entering his second semifinal in a row in Adelaide, and very much capable of an upset. Should Nadal get past him, he’ll probably face Karen Khachanov in round three. It doesn’t get much harder just to get out of the first week. Hubert Hurkacz or Aslan Karatsev should be next in round four as I do not identify huge upset material in their mini-section.

No.3 seed Alexander Zverev should cruise to the fourth round as the German has become much more reliable in Grand Slams. His fourth-round match against either Reilly Opelka or Denis Shapovalov should be a first real indicator regarding the chances of capturing a maiden Grand Slam title. However, the odds on him have really crashed over the last few weeks and with his struggles in the 2020 US Open final in mind, I wouldn’t bet him at odds as low as +300. Nadal’s odds actually look quite tempting at +1000, but considering his nightmare draw, I won’t bite. If you feel like it, I wouldn’t mind taking a flyer on Hurkacz or Khachanov, but I don’t have any plays in this quarter pre-tournament.

Quarter 3: Golden opportunity for Italy’s golden boy

The third quarter might represent a golden opportunity for a lot of players with no one really standing out. Obviously Stefanos Tsitsipas would be the one, but the Greek might still not be at 100% after undergoing elbow surgery at the end of November. Casper Ruud did up his hard-court game, but the players around him won’t be too upset having him as the No.8 seed in their quarter. Both Alex de Minaur and Andy Murray showed some decent form to start the year and I wouldn’t rule them out - De Minaur could cause some problems for Ruud in round three. Nonetheless, there’s another player that caught my eye in this eighth: Jannik Sinner. The ever-improving Italian won all his ATP Cup singles matches in straight sets and it’s finally time for him to make an impression at Grand Slam level. The time is right, the draw is favorable, and his form is there. So even though his number has plummeted as well, I still like him at +2500 or better.

The other eighth not only features No.4 seed Tsitsipas but a few other dark horses as well. Tsitsipas might have a rather easy draw in the beginning, but starting with Grigor Dimitrov in round three, it will take a different version of Tsitsipas than the one we saw at the ATP Cup. The match I’m looking forward to most in this section is the potential third rounder between Roberto Bautista Agut and Taylor Fritz. While Fritz gets steadier month after month, Bautista Agut showed some great form again at the ATP Cup, beating Ruud and Hurkacz among others. Fritz also beat Auger-Aliassime and Norrie, only losing to Zverev in between, so if both can carry their form to Melbourne, this should be a cracker. Bautista Agut has the easier draw beforehand - Fritz is set to take on compatriot Frances Tiafoe in round two - and his fighting spirit is second to none while he also likes the quick courts, that’s why I decided to go for the Spaniard at +10000. It’s a lot easier for Jannik Sinner to get out of his section than for Stefanos Tsitsipas, I also like the market “to go further” where I’m picking Sinner over Tsitsipas.

Quarter 4: Medvedev mania

This is Daniil Medvedev’s quarter. Winning his first Grand Slam title in New York manifested his ambition of leading the next generation once more. The bookmakers totally agree with that as they currently have Medvedev as the co-favorite in the Australian Open betting market together with Djokovic.

Two or three years ago, the tennis world would have been hyped for a potential second-round clash between Medvedev and Nick Kyrgios, even if no one ever knew what shape the Australian was in. Right now, I can’t see him challenging Medvedev, who did too much right while Kyrgios had to fight yet another knee injury at the end of last season. Besides Kyrgios, there are a lot of other talented players waiting for a chance to battle the No.2 seed. Ugo Humbert or Botic van de Zandschulp could have both surprised on these quick courts, had they not been drawn into Medvedev’s mini-section. In round four, Medvedev is projected to either play Diego Schwartzman or the winner of John Isner and Maxime Cressy, so the Russian might have to adjust his game plan a little.

The other eighth, again, is impacted by the Djokovic decision. If Rublev moves away from his No.5 spot, it will be Monfils replacing him. Regardless, there shouldn’t be too many obstacles on their way to the fourth round where they may face either Daniel Evans or Felix Auger-Aliassime. If these two win their, admittedly, tough first two matches, we would be set for yet another classy third-round match. The winner of Evans/Auger-Aliassime surely stands a decent chance of getting to the quarters, too. While I don’t hate another flyer here, it just feels like burning money getting in front of that Medvedev train. I might revoke that statement later if Rublev’s spot actually changes.

Australian Open Men’s Predictions:
- Sinner to go further than Tsitsipas at -120

- Sinner outright at +3300 (E/W)

- Bautista Agut outright at +10000 (E/W)

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Australian Open Women’s Draw

Quarter 1: Quarter of death

The first quarter of the women’s draw is crowded. Pre-draw, Amanda Anisimova was one of the players I had circled as a dark horse. Now that her odds dropped and she got placed in this ridiculous quarter, I don’t see too much value anymore. Anisimova’s path easily demonstrates how tough it is to come out of this section. The American starts against a qualifier, but it gets brutal pretty quickly from there. Belinda Bencic, Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty - potentially three of the four semifinalists – is just Anisimova’s way out of her eighth. That being said, the draw isn’t fun for the others either. At least top seed Barty only faces whoever comes out of the Bencic/Anisimova/Osaka section in round four. Before that though, a redlining Camila Giorgi can always cause trouble as well.

If it wasn’t for the first eighth, the next section also reads tough as nails. Seeded players Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula, Veronika Kudermetova and Maria Sakkari are all good for a deep run, even though Pegula seems a bit out of sorts so far this year. There are several other players such as Ekaterina Alexandrova or Aliaksandra Sasnovich, runner-up to Anisimova in the leadup tournament in Melbourne, who have the ability to trouble the seeds. Just looking at the Australian Open betting odds tells you not to pick anyone from the first section with Barty and Osaka being the two outright favorites. Since they aren’t only in the same quarter but in the same eighth, this might open up an opportunity for players in the other section. Despite performing notoriously badly Down Under, the conditions should suit No.5 seed Sakkari’s more aggressive game and her fitness particularly. Her draw is more than feasible compared to others, so I’m taking a chance on the Greek.

Quarter 2: Who can close in on Krejcikova?

The WTA’s most improved player of 2021 tops the second quarter. Barbora Krejčíková had an absolute dream season, rising from world No.65 at the start of last year all the way up to No.3, winning the French Open and two more WTA (singles) titles along the way. The Czech is already playing well again in the leadup tournament in Sydney where she just reached the final by beating Anett Kontaveit 14-12 in a third set tiebreak.

Her path at the Australian Open looks pretty clear as well, as I can’t see Donna Vekić or Jelena Ostapenko, who are both out of shape, beating her in current form. Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina caught some neat draws themselves, but at this point it would be quite the surprise should one of them actually beat Krejčíková in round four.

One does not think of a first-round match when hearing the names of Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys. However, one of the two will have to pack their bags on Tuesday. Keys is playing very well so far this year and before the tournament she comes up against potential third-round opponent Coco Gauff in Adelaide. Gauff was another one on my shortlist and her draw looks a little better than Anisimova’s. It’s hard to believe that Gauff is still only 17. She has only lost to Barty this year and even led by a set and a break in that match. During the offseason, the teenager apparently worked on her forehand which has been a weakness in the past. Now that she’s hitting it flatter, and now serves more consistently, she could certainly take the next step. Fitness has never been an issue with her, which should benefit her big-time in Melbourne.

The last bit of the second quarter also has some fun matches to offer. Ajla Tomljanović vs Paula Badosa in round one and Sara Sorribes Tormo vs Marta Kostyuk in round two should be two of the more exciting matchups early on. Kostyuk might repeat her 2018 run, but I don’t think she’s consistent enough to beat Gauff and Krejčíková consecutively. As for Badosa, the Spaniard has established herself at the top of the world, but I don’t think she should be half the price of a Sakkari for example.

Quarter 3 - Balanced bunch

It doesn’t sound right, but the third quarter is just as competitive as the first. Highest seed Anett Kontaveit is arguably the most inform player on the women’s side as she won back-to-back titles end of 2021 before finishing runner-up at the WTA Finals. She made the semifinal this week in Sydney, losing an absolute nail-biter to Krejčíková (after leading 6-0 4-3). Now if she maintains that form, everything will be alright. Her schedule only looks tasty for impartial viewers though. Kateřina Siniaková, Clara Tauson, Ana Konjuh, Elena Rybakina, Simona Halep - that’s what it may look like to get out of the quarter for Kontaveit. While Siniaková is a grab bag, Tauson is one of the biggest talents in the game and should be a seeded player in no time. Konjuh can hit anyone off the court on her day and Rybakina can do just that while being more consistent. If Halep ends up in the quarters, which I do expect given her draw, she will be match fit as well.

Now if that hasn't been enough names already, there are two more seeds in that eighth in Danielle Collins and Elise Mertens, as well as two dangerous unseeded players in Shelby Rogers and Viktorija Golubic. We haven’t seen Collins since she retired in Linz, but if she’s fit, she already showed what she’s capable of when reaching the semifinal here three years ago. As for Mertens, the Belgian seems limited when playing the real big guns, so with that kind of draw, I’d be surprised to see her making the quarters. One big name’s still missing is Garbiñe Muguruza’s. The winner of the WTA Finals has the easiest draw of the bunch. If she wasn’t into third favorite on the outright market, I might have backed her, but considering that she will face quality opposition within her quarter who will have had their big tests already when facing Muguruza, I’ll stay away.

Quarter 4: Struggling stars

There are a lot of quality names in the fourth quarter but most are surrounded by question marks. Starting at the bottom of the draw, No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka is having a nightmare start to 2022. The Belarusian lost to Kaja Juvan in her first match of the season before breaking out in tears in her match against Rebecca Peterson when she completely lacked a proper service motion and even served underarm. In these two matches, she committed 39 double faults and I’m not sure if that can be solved within a few days. If Storm Sanders can’t, Ann Li in round two or Markéta Vondroušová/ Ludmilla Samsonova in round three should be able to capitalize. The mini-section above features Angelique Kerber and Leylah Fernandez, who also met at the US Open last year. Former Australian Open champion Kerber also got COVID in December, so I wouldn’t rely on her being at her best. Fernandez got overrun by Iga Świątek in Adelaide last week and the Pole is sitting on top of this quarter as the No.7 seed.

Daria Kasatkina should be a first benchmark for Świątek as the Russian has been playing superbly in Sydney this week. The section below Świątek /Kasatkina is the one I detected as the worst in the draw. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who hasn’t played so far in 2022, and Petra Kvitová, who, just like Sabalenka, is a shell of her former self, are the two seeds and while I would love to oppose them, I don’t think anyone other than Sorana Cîrstea is capable of taking advantage. That leaves a great opportunity for Świątek though as I liked what I’ve seen from her in Adelaide. She’s playing more aggressive again, something that she stopped doing after breaking into the top 20 as she admitted in an interview after beating Daria Saville last week. After Fernandez, Świątek also beat Azarenka before losing to Barty in the semis. The outright odds aren’t huge, but considering her manageable draw, I still like the +1300 on offer.

Australian Open Women’s Predictions:

- Iga Swiatek outright at +1300 (E/W)

- Coco Gauff outright at +2500 (E/W)

- Maria Sakkari outright at +5000 (E/W)

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