Are you ready for some … tennis? OK, so maybe that’s not exactly how the line goes. But we don’t care. If you’re not excited for the first big tournament of the 2016 tennis season, it’s time to fix that. Once the world’s best players take their talents Down Under, things start to get real. This is the beauty of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. The Australian Open may not get the same love as the U.S. Open or carry the same weight as Wimbledon, but that doesn’t make winning the tournament any less special.
Considering that this tournament will help set the tone for the new season, we have a feeling everyone’s going to bring their A-game. In the end, however, there can only be one champion. And the way the oddsmakers in Vegas see it, some individuals have better chances than others. Therefore, with the 2016 Australian Open set to get underway on Monday, January 18, here’s a look at the five players who will most likely to take home the year’s first Grand Slam title.
5. Stan Wawrinka
After watching him shock the world by winning last season’s French Open, we’d be foolish to overlook Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. So far in 2016, the 30-year-old is 4-0, having recently won the 2016 ATP Aircel Chennai Open, and looks to be in good form heading into the year’s first Grand Slam. He may not be the favorite at this year’s Australian Open, but the No. 4-ranked player in the world isn’t the kind of person to back down from a challenge.
4. Rafael Nadal
By his standards, 2015 was not a good year for Rafael Nadal. Aside from only being able to capture three titles, he also failed to take home the big prize at Roland Garros. However, as a 14-time Grand Slam winner, including the 2009 Australian Open, we know that Rafa has what it takes to topple the talent Down Under. For Nadal, it always comes down to whether or not he’s completely healthy. And that should be the case again in 2016.
3. Roger Federer
Despite being 34 years old, Roger Federer continues to be one of the best male tennis players on the planet. How Father Time hasn’t completely caught up with the world No. 3 is beyond us. That being said, he hasn’t won a major championship since the 2012 Wimbledon. The competition is getting better, and he certainly isn’t getting any younger. The 2016 Australian Open may not be his best chance to turn his record 17 career Grand Slam titles into 18. Of course, we’ve been wrong before.
2. Andy Murray
Andy Murray comes into the 2016 Australian Open as the No. 2-ranked player in the world. He won four titles in 2015 and posted an impressive 71-14 record on the year. Although he’s never won the title on the blue hard courts in Melbourne, when he’s playing his best tennis, Murray can hold his own with anyone on the planet. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll beat them.
1. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is the heavy favorite to win the 2016 Australian Open. And he should be. In 2015, Djokovic completed one of the greatest seasons in tennis history, going 82-6, winning 11 titles, and falling just shy of a calendar-year Grand Slam. A lot of folks believe the world’s No. 1 player has what it takes to accomplish this feat in 2016. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. He will have to win the 2016 Australian Open first.
Odds courtesy of sportsbook.ag.