Who will win the 2019 Australian Open?

Who will win the 2019 Australian Open?

Who will win the 2019 Australian Open?
Autor betsonly 07 Jan 2019

A review of the Australian Open, why it is designed to be a fast surface, and why Novak Djokovic starts as favourite to lift a 7th title in Melbourne.

The first major of the 2019 tennis season will soon be upon us with the Australian Open which starts in Melbourne on January 14th.

The Australian Open has earned the reputation in recent years as one of the fastest surfaces on tour, with courts made up of a manufactured acrylic surface called Rebound Ace backed by a synthetic rubber base. Rebound Ace is more forgiving than hard courts on the body joints, especially ankles and knees, which means that players are less inclined to pick up injuries. The surface in Melbourne is also faster because tournament organisers have deliberately altered the composition of the Rebound Ace courts to reduce friction, and increase the speed of the balls when it hits the ground. Furthermore, the balls used in Melbourne are less furry than in some tournaments, which means less resistance through the air.

The surface in Australia favours serve-volleyers like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, as opposed to baseline players like Raphael Nadal. So who will triumph this time?

Novak Djokovic is the current tournament favourite at 5/4, and it is easy to see why. Not only did he win the last two Grand Slams in 2018 back-to-back, as well as a number of high profile Masters Events, but he has already got 6 Australian Open titles under his belt already. The surface in Melbourne is ideally suited to his game because of his serving capability and ability to return, and the strength of his ground shots. He is the clearly the man to beat.

Rafael Nadal is currently second favourite at 11/2 to win the Australian Open in a month’s time, behind World Number One Novak Djokovic. But can he really win the tournament again and add to the solitary title he claimed as far back as 2009?

Statistically he has been less successful in Melbourne than in any of the Slams, even on the alien grass of Wimbledon. Delving a little deeper, however, and his record in Australia is actually quite good, with three other final appearances to his name, most recently in 2017 when he was beaten in five sets by Roger Federer. However, the surface does not suit his game because of the lack of bounce so, if Nadal is to win in Melbourne, he is either going to have to find a way to beat the Serb, or hope that he gets knocked out early.

The defending champion Roger Federer is 6/1 with the bookmakers to repeat his 2018 victory, but, although still highly rated, there are those who think that his time at the very top of the game may be coming to an end at aged 37. He was already the oldest man to lift the trophy in Melbourne this year and it is asking a lot for him to defy Anno Domini again.

If Federer’s challenge is to be discounted, then there is always the threat from the up and coming generation of young players like Alexander Zverev, Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric. All had impressive ends to the 2018 season with high profile wins and final appearances in Masters Events, most notably Zverev, who beat Djokovic in London, to win the ATP Finals. However, none of them has yet to make a statement performance at a Grand Slam event. Zverev may the best equipped to make the breakthrough this time round, and is rated 9/1 with the bookmakers, but whether he yet has the tradecraft to successfully negotiate a two-week tournament has yet to be proven.

Of the other contenders, Andy Murray, three times a beaten finalist, is rated at 25/1 but he must be considered a long shot. He is still making his way back from the hip injury which ruled him out for much of 2017, and restricted his playing time in 2018 to a handful of tournaments. It is hard to see him being match fit enough to make it through the rigours of a Grand Slam event.

128 men will start in the main draw at Melbourne this year, but it is hard to see beyond just one of them, Novak Djokovic, lifting the trophy on January 27th.