Australian Open 2016 Preview

Jan 20th, 2016 Betting Tips, Previews

australian-open

The Australian Open is one of the highlights of the annual tennis calendar, pitting the best tennis players in the world against each other on hard surface courts. The first chronologically of the annual ‘Majors’ in tennis, the Australian Open is a chance for stalls to be set out for the tennis season ahead, and traditionally an opportunity for the hungry to steal an advantage against the rest of the field. With a prize pot of AU$40,000,000, there’s way more at stake than just pride or ranking points – the Open can make or break a player’s season, and is of course a crucial component of any Grand Slam ambitions.

Australian Open Trophies

The 2015 tournament saw two of the clear favourites come through, both in the Men’s and Women’s singles events. The Men’s field was dominated by Novak Djokovic, arguably one of the most naturally gifted tennis players in the history of the sport. His win over Andy Murray in the 2015 final was broadly comfortable, and he remains the predictable, but no less threatening, player to watch in 2016. Similarly, the Women’s event was bulldozed by a series of impressive performances from Serena Williams. Having played at the top of the professional game for over 15 years, Serena has the combination of skill and experience to make her an unshakeable threat – regardless of the threat posed by the rest of the field.

The 2016 Australian Open looks set to be one of the most action-packed tournaments of recent years, with plenty riding on securing an all-important first Major win of the year. But where does this magnificent tournament come from?

The History of the Australian Open

The Australian Open was first held in Melbourne back in 1905, with Melbourne Park still hosting the tournament on an annual basis today. In 2016, of course, the technology looks a little different. Retractable roofs across three key courts mean players are protected from adverse weather, including extreme heat, as is required on the day. Combined with various textured playing surfaces, this creates a challenging environment for even the most skilled of players to make their mark.

Malbourne Park in 1905

But things were a little different back in the early days of the competition. The Australian Open was originally a tournament played on grass courts, similar to Wimbledon. This format persisted until 1988, where artificial Rebound Ace surfaces were used for the first time, allowing much greater flexibility for tournament organisers around weather and climate concerns. In 2008, the upgrade of surfaces was complete, with the addition of new Plexicushion surfaces adding a new dynamic to the game.

Today, the Australian Open is attended by huge numbers of spectators every year, narrowly falling short of the crowds attending the US Open to be the second most well attended tennis event in the calendar. With nearly 705,000 attendees through the turnstiles in 2015, tournament fortnight 2016 looks set to be even bigger.

Men Favorites - Australian OpenThe Men’s Field

The 2016 Men’s field is highly competitive, and there are far from any certainties as to the result. While reigning champion Novak Djokovic starts the tournament as odds-on favourite – something of a formality these days for the Serb – there remains a highly competitive field of players involved the tournament. Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are just some of the competitors snapping at his heels, ready to take the fight to Djokovic over the coming two weeks. Time will tell how they fare, but it would be a brave gambler who would bet against a Djokovic final at the outset of this tournament.

Others to watch include Andy Murray. With a big year in his personal life ahead, Andy has regained some of the form that saw him win Wimbledon coming into this tournament, and should not be underestimated as a threat. Last year’s finalist against Djokovic, Murray knows this tournament well, and should be aiming to cause Novak some headaches as the week progresses.

At an outside chance, Roger Federer should never be discounted. Far from at his peak, he remains a highly agile, technical player. While Djokovic has perhaps cemented his place as the new King of tennis, he should remain wary of the old guard in the form of Federer, who has the deft touch and natural ability to cause any player an upset on his day.

The Women’s Field

Australian Open Women FavoritesMuch more open than the men’s field, the Women’s pool consists of a handful of likely potential winners. If you are to believe the bookies early on, Serena is still marginally more likely than anyone else to scoop the prize when the dust settles. Having won the competition last year, and given her penchant for total dominance of the women’s game, it remains to be seen whether Serena can be toppled in 2016. Waiting first in line to do just that is Victoria Azarenka, with Halep and Sharapova, as always, thereabouts. There are questions about the draw here, and this is far from an easy field for any of the big names to dominate. However, if Serena can find the kind of form that saw her devastate all in her path in 2015, it could be tough to project anyone else doing better than her in the matches to come.

Of course, it is too early to say whether Serena is the likely ultimate winner – while her odds aren’t getting longer the more she wins, there is an ever present threat of someone else having their day at the 2016 tournament, and the field is much less certain than the men’s field when it comes to predicting finalists and eventual winners this year.

Predictions

The Men’s Singles tournament winner looks set to scoop in excess of £1.6m, but it’s the setup of the Australian Open that will prove the biggest incentive. Djokovic comes into this tournament as the title holder, and he won’t be giving that up without a fight. His ability to control the game in a consistent, ruthless way means it will take something very special to derail his victory. Andy Murray looks the most likely to be able to topple Djokovic, and with plenty of tricky players in the draw, it might be worth a punt on Murray going the distance.

The Women’s field is much more open. Serena is hugely dominant, and is historically the one to beat by some distance. However, her dominance is arguably less concrete than has previously been the case, and 2016 could be the year for a new name to make the breakthrough. Azarenka has been playing incredibly strongly throughout 2015, and comes into the 2016 tournament ready to make up significant ground on Serena. While Serena looks like she might be in with a shout, Azarenka could be the smart money, given her significantly more attractive odds position relative to Serena.

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