The tennis season is kicking off with the first Grand Slam of the year, down under. The 2024 Australian Open features a familiar storyline, can anyone take down 10 time champion Novak Djokovic?
We’ll look to go quarter by quarter and see if we can extract any value as we head into the second round of matchups. Check out the live odds and our 2 best bets for the 2024 Australian Open below. Good luck, folks!
The Australian Open is a notoriously chalky event, with less underdog winners than the US Open or French Open. Played in the heat of summer on fast hard courts, the Australian Open is usually a big server’s paradise.
Through the first round we’ve seen pretty consistent results with the service hold percentage, but round one saw an even lower percentage of underdogs coming through. 30/32 seeded players advanced into the second round despite multiple tests to players like Andrey Rublev, Sebastian Korda, and Taylor Fritz. Round Two also looks like it will have some cooler weather and a bit of rain in Melbourne, which should impact the court speed negatively.
The Australian Open uses its own Dunlop AO ball, which players have commented on its durability. Initially, the balls play fast on the quick courts, however they quickly lose pressure leading to players' commentary that the balls are “fluffy”. Keep these two factors in mind when you’re backing big servers as both the cooler temperatures and the “lighter” balls will slow down the court speed.
The 1 seed Novak Djokovic leads this quarter highlighted by 2023 runner Stefanos Tsitsipas and young standout Ben Shelton. There’s been some interest in the young American who looks to be on a collision course for a fourth-round matchup with Djokovic.
As has become consistent with a Djokovic Grand Slam run, he seems to have a nagging injury, getting some attention with the media. This time around it’s a wrist injury for Djokovic yet he looked fine in his Round 1 matchup. He’s clearly getting into shape, with his victory against Dimo Prizmic being his first action of the season.
Tsitsipas and Shelton are both priced at 7/1 in the quarter, but I don’t find value here. Should Shelton be able to take down Djokovic in a R4 matchup, I’d imagine he’ll be a mediocre favorite against Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas could be tested on his way to a QF matchup with Djokovic by anyone in the quarter and I think this is more a symptom of his poor form than his opponents quality. Tsitsipas has dealt with numerous nagging injuries in the past year, and I’m not excited by him even at a price like 65/1. I’d look at Shelton here if you’re looking to oppose Djokovic.
The Jannik Sinner quarter. Time and time again in 2023, I backed Jannik Sinner at the slam level, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a player that feels due for a major slam run. Per hardcourt data, Sinner is a top five player in the world and is being priced up as one, despite finding himself on Djokovic’s side of the draw.
I don’t see anyone giving him much trouble in Q2, Sinner just needs to maintain his form so as to not put too much court time on his body. This is important for a player that still hasn't’ shaken the durability questions in a Grand Slam format.
Andrey Rublev is not off to a good start, barely surviving a fifth set tiebreak in his R1 matchup against Thiago Seyboth Wild. I don’t think he, Frances Tiafoe, or Karen Khachanov have the chops to defeat Sinner in a best of five match in their current forms.
Alex de Minaur probably presents the biggest threat but should not be an issue unless we see Sinner drop in form. -140 to win Q2 is a good bet, having not moved much off the -120 pre-tournament. Sinner’s outright price of +650 only becomes valuable if Djokovic withdraws or is knocked out of the tournament, so we’ll avoid this price.
Q3 could be a tricky quarter with high level young players that are not in the best of form. Holger Rune leads the top half of this quarter, which I believe to be the more difficult section. He’ll match up against Arthur Fils or Tallon Griekspoor in R3, followed by Hubert Hurkacz or Ugo Humbert in R4.
I think any of these players can push Rune to a long match given Rune’s durability issues. Although Rune has all court ability, his game isn’t particularly suited to the quick conditions in Australia and could be a victim to a serve and volley approach like Hubert Hurkacz.
We find Daniil Medvedev in the bottom half of the draw, who’s been relatively quiet since a R1 exit at the Paris Masters. The quicker courts will suit Medvedev better and he has a relatively easy path to the QF. He’ll likely have to go through Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic to come home with the AO crown in 2024, but I think 11/1 is a big enough price here.
11/1 was the pre-tournament line which got bet down to 9/1 or +850 in some spots. I’m surprised to see DraftKings re-open at 11/1 after R1 and would suggest a 1u bet here. I prefer this line over the +140 we’re being offered for the quarter.
Carlos Alcaraz’s quarter to lose. The Australian Open has been the most difficult for the Spanish phenom in his young career, not having passed the third round. He also withdrew in 2023 due to injury. Having a stalworth like Alcaraz in the quarter impacts the pricing and sometimes creates value for other players, should you not trust Alcaraz’s form.
However, the players I think could take on Alcaraz won’t see him till later in the tournament and have their own issues. I’m not sure that Alexander Zverev has the rally tolerance for Alcaraz at this point in his career.
Casper Ruud looks to be in excellent form; however, quick hard courts are not his specialty either and his first serve won’t play up against elite returners like Carlos. If Alcaraz looks to get in trouble I think we are better off betting against him on a match-by-match basis as any player will warrant a large underdog price against him until he reaches the semi-final.
Either Alcaraz will bow out early like in years past (which will create inherent value for Medvedev), or we’ll continue to see opportunity to bet against him later on.
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