Djoker, Nadal, Serena favored down under

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It seems like yesterday Rafael Nadal was holding up the championship trophy in Flushing Meadows after he won the U.S. Open in early September. But the calendar has flipped and Nadal is the second choice in the betting to win the 2020 Australian Open, which gets under way Sunday night from Melbourne Park.

Nadal is 7-2 in the latest odds from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, second to Novak Djokovic, the defending champion who is the 5-4 favorite. Daniil Medvedev is 8-1 while six-time Aussie Open champ Roger Federer is 10-1 as is Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Jeff Sherman, who handles the numbers for tennis at the SuperBook, said Nadal should definitely not be overlooked, even though hard courts are not his best surface. Nadal has only one title at Melbourne, that came in 2009.

“He finished the year strong,” Sherman said of Nadal. “We took a $6,000 bet on Nadal at 4-1 and we had him as low as 3-1. He looks like a clear second choice.”

Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open seven times, the most of any male player in the Open Era, is no doubt motivated after his early hit from the U.S. Open in the fourth round when he had to retire due to injury against Stan Wawrinka. He also has a bit of momentum working for him as he helped Serbia defeat Nadal and Spain in the ATP Cup over the weekend in Sydney.

“He’s playing well right now and it’s always ‘What have you done lately?’ is how people tend to bet the major tournaments,” Sherman said of Djokovic.

If you’re looking to bet on someone outside the Big Three (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer), Sherman suggests a look at Tsitsipas or Medvedev.

“Both of them are really playing well,” Sherman said. “We’re seeing some action on them.”

As for Americans John Isner (150-1), Sam Querrey (250-1) and Frances Tiafoe (200-1), Sherman doesn’t see any of them making a deep run.

“I don’t see much from the Americans on the men’s side,” he said.

On the women’s side, Serena Williams is the favorite at 4-1 as she continues her quest for her 24th major title and her eighth Aussie Open championship. Naomi Osaka, the defending champ, is 6-1 followed by Ashleigh Barty, the hometown favorite who is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and is 7-1 at the SuperBook. Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are both 10-1.

“It’s definitely wide open,” Sherman said of the women’s draw. “Serena is the favorite at 4-1 and that tells you how open it is.

“Not having (Bianca) Andreescu in the tournament changes a lot of things. If she were healthy and playing, she’d be the favorite. With her not playing, I can make a case for a lot of women.”

Sherman said Aryna Sabalenka has been getting some attention as she is currently 18-1 after opening at 25-1.

“I can see her making a deep run,” he said. 

Betting on tennis has been a popular pastime in Europe for years, though sometimes fraught with scandal. And with mobile betting gaining popularity in the U.S. and tennis a sport that lends itself to in-game wagering, Sherman anticipates higher volume for this year’s Australian Open, and certainly later in the year for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“We’ve seen an uptick in overall handle for tennis,” Sherman said. “But we won’t start taking in-game wagering until the quarterfinals. We tried it last year for the entire tournament and we had minimal handle. Those who did bet were betting on the big favorites. When you get to the quarters, things get much more competitive and it should lead to more in-game wagers.” 

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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