Djokovic Talk Dominates Australian Open Build Up

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The opening Grand Slam of 2022 is just over a week away but doubts linger over the participation of world number one Novak Djokovic as Australian authorities have denied him a visa.

Novak Djokovic

The first Grand Slam event of 2022 is scheduled to get underway later this month, but all the talk in the build up to the Australian Open surrounds whether defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic will compete in the event.

Djokovic is a record nine-time winner of the Australian Open and priced at 8/5 to triumph again this year, but his hopes of adding a 10th title in Melbourne appear to hang in the balance due to visa issues surrounding his Covid-19 vaccination status.

The 34-year-old is currently in the process of appealing the decision to refuse him entry into the country, with an announcement expected to be made on Monday, just a week before the tournament is due to get underway

With this year’s Australian Open taking place from January 17-30, will the world number one make the field?

Djokovic’s Absence Would Blow Men’s Singles Wide Open

Djokovic has dominated the Aussie Open since winning his first Grand Slam title in Melbourne in 2008, with just three other men having got their hands on the trophy during the intervening period, two of whom – Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka –  are not competing this year.

That means Rafael Nadal is the only other previous winner currently in the Men’s Singles draw, but the Spaniard’s victory came 13 years ago and he will head into this year’s event having not played competitively on the ATP Tour since August.

Nadal is priced at 9/1 to win what would be a record 21st Grand Slam title this month, but at 35-years-old, perhaps the Spaniard will have to make way for a younger champion.

Russian Daniil Medvedev would certainly fit into that mould, and the 25-year-old, who is ranked second in the world behind Djokovic, will be buoyed by winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September.

Medvedev convincingly beat Djokovic in straight sets in that final, and he may be the man to beat in Melbourne even if the Serbian is allowed to compete – Medvedev is priced at 7/5 to lift the trophy.

Murray Makes Melbourne Return

The other likely contenders in the men’s draw all have one thing in common, they have never won a Grand Slam title, although Alexander Zverev, who is priced at 9/4, could be ready to break his duck after lifting his second ATP Tour Finals title at the end of last season.

There could also be genuine British hopes in Melbourne, with world number 12 Cameron Norrie, who enjoyed a strong end to 2021, priced at 50/1, while 24th seed Dan Evans is available at 100/1.

Andy Murray is also set to return to the Melbourne courts for the first time since 2019, with the five-time former finalist priced at 50/1 to win what would be a fairytale first Australian Open title.

Can Raducanu repeat Her US Open heroics?

Speaking of fairytale heroics, Murray does not have to look much further than fellow Brit Emma Raducanu, who shocked the sporting world when becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open.

Raducanu has no such qualification issues this time around, with the 19-year-old seeded at 17 for her first appearance in Melbourne, while she is priced at 18/1 to repeat her New York heroics.

World number one and home favourite Ashleigh Barty may be the one to beat in the Women’s Singles, as she bids to become the first Australian woman to lift the title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Barty can be backed at 9/2 to win the tournament, but she has never been beyond the semi-finals in her home slam, losing to Karolina Muchova in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.

Naomi Osaka is the defending champion and has won the title in two of the last three years, while she is also a player for the big occasion, with four of her seven career successes on the WTA Tour coming in Grand Slam events.

The Japanese is a 5/1 shot to lift a third title in Melbourne this month, but with all four Grand Slams having been won by different women last year, this could be a very open competition once again.

This year’s tournament will also be the first Australian Open since 1997 where neither Venus nor Serena Williams will be participating.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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One Response

  1. It seems likely that Djokovic’s PCR is fake, given the perfect timing of the disease and his involvement with crowds after being declared positive. The only way to clarify this would be too carry out an antibody blood test.

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