Normally the Australian Open is an extremely exciting time of year for tennis fans as it marks the beginning of a new season and it takes place in the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere — what better to do when it’s freezing outside than watch tennis in the Australian summer? However, this year’s event unfortunately has been colored by the massive wildfires in Australia right now, many of which are happening just outside of Melbourne. The show must go on, so the smoke from the fires could add a ton of unpredictability to this year’s tournament — we already saw players withdraw in qualifying due to health concerns. Hopefully the weather will turn and they’ll start getting some more rain to help with the fires. Let’s break down this bracket and get into some model predictions and betting picks.
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To help break down both sides of the draw at this year’s Australian Open, I also have a new tool I’ve developed that uses the same model I use to create the (FREE!) daily Tennis Projections here at Awesemo.com to simulate through the brackets and output estimated outright probabilities for all the participants in the main draw.
ATP Tour Australian Open Picks
Rafael Nadal gets as huge advantage as he draws the side of the bracket without Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer. However, I’m not a big fan of his draw especially at his outright price at +525 and his quarter price at -125. He’ll coast to the fourth round where he (should) face either a motivated Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov, both of whom have given Nadal some trouble in the past. Then he’ll likely face Dominic Thiem for the quarter and finally in the semifinals, he may face the player he just beat in an epic U.S. Open final in Daniil Medvedev. My model gives Nadal a 40% chance of winning his quarter and a 16% of winning the whole tournament. I think those probabilities are much more accurate than what sportsbooks are currently posting.
Speaking of Kyrgios, he’s getting a lot of hype at the Australian Open because it’s in his home country and there’s speculation he should be extra focused with the tragedy of the Australian wildfires currently going on. I can see why people think this way, but how many times before have we speculated “this is finally the time Kyrgios will lock in and live up to his potential?” This is a pass for me.
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The other half of the bracket has some pretty fun players with Gael Monfils, the youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, American Taylor Fritz and Thiem. Thiem is heavily favored to win this side of the quarter, which has caused the prices on Monfils and Auger-Aliassime to be low compared to the odds my model gives them of winning the quarter. In the U.S. Open preview, I discussed why I think Thiem is overpriced on faster courts, so I’m willing to take shots on both Monfils and Auger-Aliassime to win the quarter. If one makes it to face Nadal, we can hedge.
My pick: Nadal def. Auger-Aliassime
Model’s Pick: Nadal def. Auger-Aliassime
This quarter is extremely interesting. Nobody had a better summer on hard courts than Medvedev, and he’s getting a ton of respect from bookmakers as a result. Where he’s implied to win the tournament 12% of the time, my model only thinks he has a 3% chance.
With Medvedev in this part of the quarter we have two massive servers that my model really likes: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and John Isner. I would be inclined to take a shot on Isner to advance out of the quarter, but he just got smoked by Medvedev at the ATP Cup and his form to start the year has looked terrible. In addition, I hate betting on the tiebreak lottery with players like him.
In the bottom part of the bracket, we have my favorite bet and my model’s favorite bet. First, Andrey Rublev has had a huge start to the season after winning in both Doha and Adelaide, losing only two sets along the way. It’s almost perfect that he’s in Medvedev’s bracket considering they’re both from Russia and Rublev is only 18 months younger than Medvedev. Where last year was Medvedev’s’ breakout season from NextGen player to major contender, I think there’s a very good chance that we see a similar ascent from Rublev. Give me +900 for the quarter and +4,000 to win the tournament.
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How do you solve a problem like Alex Zverev? He seems to always underachieve in big tournaments and crush when the pressure is off. He’s even admitted in the past that he struggles mentally in Grand Slams. His form to start the year has also been awful, going 0-3 at the ATP Cup and getting crushed by Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. And yet, doesn’t this feel like the perfect spot for him? He’s the No. 7 seed, but there are zero expectations for him at the Australian Open — he doesn’t even have the best odds to win in his half of the quarter.
His draw is about as cushy as it could be until he has to face David Goffin or Rublev in the round of 16. If there were ever a time for him to make a run, it feels like this is it. Currently he’s +5,000 to win the whole thing (even with Shapovalov, who has Federer in his quarter) and +650 to win the quarter. My model thinks he should be about +2,500 outright and +200 for the quarter. I’ll take the value and set myself up for another Zverev disappointment.
My pick: Zverev def. Medvedev
Model’s Pick: Zverev def. Isner
For those of you who tailed my U.S. Open picks, we had Matteo Berrettini at +30,000 and +6,600 to win the quarter, and he came through in a major way as he made it all the way to the semifinal. I’m a big fan of his (especially now), but I’m not going to chase more winnings with him. The model also really likes Grégoire Barrère for some reason, but I’m not interested in that at all.
My only play from this quarter is Federer. There’s not much to really say about him at this point. This quarter looks pretty weak, and while Father Time may be undefeated, he hasn’t come for Federer yet. I’ll take both the +1,125 outright and +110 to win the quarter and in the semifinals, we can hedge on Djokovic if we want.
My pick: Federer def. Berrettini
Model’s Pick: Federer def. Barrère
There’s not much to say about this quarter either. Djokovic is a -375 favorite to win the quarter, meaning he’s expected to win it 79% of the time. Tsitsipas is really good and is certainly capable of beating Djokovic, and the model gives Milos Raonic a pretty good chance to at least make it to the quarterfinals. Let’s throw a little bit on Raonic +250,000 to win it all and +4,000 for the quarter.
My pick: Djokovic def. Tsitsipas
Model’s Pick: Djokovic def. Raonic
My pick: Zverev def. Nadal, Federer def. Djokovic
Model’s Pick: Nadal def. Zverev, Djokovic def. Federer
My pick: Federer def. Zverev
Model’s Pick: Djokovic def. Nadal
Federer outright +1,125, quarter +110
Raonic outright +250,000, quarter +4,000
Zverev outright +5,000, quarter +650
Rublev outright +4,000, quarter +900
Auger-Aliassime outright +15,000, quarter +2,500
Model plays (>2% implied edge)
|Name||Vegas Implied Outright Prob||Model Outright Prob||Implied Edge|
Model quarter outright plays (>2% implied edge)
|name||Vegas Implied Outright Prob||Model Outright Prob||Implied Edge|
|Alejandro Davidovich Fokina||0.33%||4.20%||3.87%|
WTA Tour Australian Open Picks
There’s quite a bit of pressure on Ahleigh Barty at the Australian Open given that she comes in as the No.1 seed and an Australian woman hasn’t won this event since 1978. I’m not in love with her form even though she won in Adelaide last week and won some tricky matches against Danielle Collins and Dayana Yastremska to do it. I think her price at +800 is probably fair, however I think there’s some other value in this quarter worth looking at.
For example, in the bottom half we have Madison Keys at +2,000 and Ekaterina Alexandrova at +8,000. I backed both of these players at the U.S. Open and I’m willing to do it again here. I’m a big fan of both their games — both are capable of blowing their opponents off the court with powerful serves and groundstrokes. Keys also has the experience and pedigree and is usually extremely tough to beat once she gets rolling in a major. Alexandrova started the year with a tournament win in Shenzhen and I’m looking for her to keep her form up at the Australian Open.
My pick: Keys def. Barty
Model’s Pick: Barty def. Alexandrova
Generally speaking, I think it’s a bad idea to take short favorites in big WTA events. That said, I really like this spot for Serena Williams (+400). She’s lost in the finals in the last two majors thanks to Simona Halep playing the match of her life and Bianca Andreescu being unbeatable on hard courts. Naomi Osaka obviously has beat her in a major final before, and Barty in a potential semifinal would be extremely difficult. However, I just don’t see Williams letting another major championship slip away.
My pick: Serena def. Osaka
Model’s Pick: Serena def. Osaka
The two top-seeded players in this quarter, Halep and Belinda Bencic, are two that my model always seems to underrate. It tends to favor overpowering players who win a lot of points on serve, something neither of those two are exceptional at.
In Bencic’s half, I could see Aryna Sabalenka making a run, but the competition is so weak I feel that she is overpriced. In Halep’s half, I like Karolina Muchova and Danielle Collins. Muchova is listed at +8,000 and should waltz to the third round to face Elise Mertens. From there, the competition should ratchet up drastically as she would go Mertens -> Halep -> Bencic. I love her talent though and think she has the game to make a big run. Finally, we have the consistently inconsistent Collins.
She’s just as capable of winning the entire tournament as she is of losing the first two sets of the tournament and getting knocked out. She made it to the semis last year before losing in two sets to Karolína Plíšková and I like her form after watching her blow away Sofia Kenin (6-3, 6-1) and Bencic (6-3, 6-1) and losing a tough three setter to Barty (3-6, 6-1, 7-6) at Adelaide.
The model seems to like Jennifer Brady, possibly because she recently beat Barty and beat Keys and Amanda Anisimova at Beijing in September. However, I just don’t see it — she’s only made it to the round of 16 once in her career at a major (2017 U.S. Open).
My pick: Muchova def. Bencic
Model’s Pick: Brady def. Sabalenka
This quarter is absolutely brutal. Plíšková, the top seed, gets a tricky match against Kristina Mladenovic in the first round, then Anastasia Pavyluchenkova in round 3, Markéta Vondroušová or Angelique Kerber,and finally Kiki Bertens/Elina Svitolina. That’s about as tough as it gets. I expect there to be a ton of carnage in this quarter and am not particularly interested in trying to parse out who will survive out of it.
My pick: Svitolina def. Pliskova
Model’s Pick: Pliskova def. Bertens
My pick: Williams def. Keys, Muchova def. Svitolina
Model’s Pick: Williams def. Barty, Pliskova def. Brady
My pick: Williams def. Muchova
Model’s Pick: Williams def. Pliskova
Williams outright +400
Keys outright +2,000
Alexandrova outright +8,000
Muchova outright +8,000, quarter +1,400
Collins outright +3,300, quarter +900
Model plays (>2% implied edge)
|name||Vegas Implied Outright Prob||Model Outright Prob||Implied Edge|
Model quarter outright Australian Open plays (>2% implied edge)
|name||Vegas Quarter Outright Prob||Model QF Prob||Implied Edge|
|Alison Van Uytvanck||1.49%||4.00%||2.51%|
|Sara Sorribes Tormo||0.40%||2.70%||2.30%|
-Good luck at the Australian Open, tennis fans!