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Over the years, Novak Djokovic has proven he’s no joke. Especially when it comes time to play at Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic has won the Australia Open six times, the most of his 14 Grand Slam tennis titles. According to the future odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, he is the prohibitive 6-5 favorite to win his seventh when this year’s Aussie Open opens Monday in Melbourne Park.

Things are slightly more problematic on the women’s side. The Westgate has Serena Williams as the 4-1 betting favorite to win her 8th title down under. But after Serena, there’s a logjam. Naomi Osaka, who defeated Williams to win the U.S. Open in September, is 8-1, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber are both 10-1 and Aryna Sabalenka and Elina Svitolina are 12-1.

Djokovic comes to Melbourne refreshed after a strong finish to his 2018 season. He won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and made it to the ATP Year-End finals, losing to Alexander Zverev. He’s 31, but he can still move and cover the court and his stamina is still strong.

Roger Federer? He is old at age 37. And while he still plays at a high level, two weeks in the brutal heat of an Australian summer might be tough to overcome. Federer is 9-2 in the Westgate’s future book.

Zverev is 8-1 and given the fact he beat Djokovic on a hard-court surface in London, he has to be considered a legitimate threat to win.

What about Rafael Nadal you ask? Nadal is dealing with a thigh injury which caused him to pull out of events in Abu Dhabi, and, most recently, the Brisbane Open, which is normally the final tuneup for the Australian Open. Nadal is listed at 7-1 by the Westgate . But his fitness comes into question and he likely won’t be 100 percent healthy when he steps onto the court in Melbourne.

“I think Nadal’s status with his injury makes it tough for him,” said the Westgate’s Jeff Sherman. “Zverev probably has the best chance to beat Djokovic, buit if you’re looking for a live long shot, Kevin Anderson is 40-1. He continues to play well and at 40-1, those are his shortest odds in a major in recent years.”

Fitness is always a question with Serena. She has split time between tennis and motherhood and while she has made it to the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, losing both times. She has won the Australian Open seven times and she is still chasing that elusive record 24th Grand Slam title, so motivation isn’t a concern.

But if Williams were to falter, it appears things could be wide open. Yes, Osaka won everyone over with her play at Flushing Meadows last fall. But she is just one of several talented young players with a shot.

Americans Sloane Stephens (14-1) and Madison Keys (20-1) have the game to go all the way and veterans Caroline Wozniacki (16-1), Petra Kivitova (20-1) could get hot and make a run. And if you like long shots who are familiar, how about Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, both listed at 30-1.

“Serena represents our largest liability,” Sherman said of the women’s future book for the Australian Open. “We’ve gotten some support for Osaka. She opened at 14-1 and is now 8-1. And Sabalenka opened at 25-1 and she’s now 12-1.”

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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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