Australian Open 2013 Predictions: Championship Odds for Top Contenders

Carlos TorresContributor IJanuary 9, 2013

Australian Open 2013 Predictions: Championship Odds for Top Contenders

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    It's time for the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, the Australian Open.

    Starting next Monday, Jan. 14, the best tennis players in the world will gather to take their shot at winning the tournament and stamping their place in history.

    Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka are the world's top-ranked player and top seeds as well.

    But they will be challenged, and it will not be an easy defence.

    Djokovic is going for a three-peat and fourth Aussie Open overall, but he has an ageless Roger Federer and a confident, hungry and muscled-up Andy Murray looking to stop him.

    Azarenka is the top seed, but she is nursing some health problems and will probably have to conquer nemesis Serena Williams if she is to win it all again.

    Williams has her own quest going, and her motivation is to see it to its completion.

    Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwasnka might have something to say as well before all is said and done.

    Let's take a quick look at all the details on the big four and their odds in both the men and women's draw.

Agnieszka Radwanska

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    Tournament Seed: No. 4 Outright Win Odds: 17.00 (Tied for fourth with Petra Kvitova)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 15-6

    Head-to-Head vs. Serena Williams: 0-4

    Head-to-Head vs. Maria Sharapova: 2-8

    Head-to-Head vs. Victoria Azarenka: 3-12

    Radwanska started the year red-hot taking the title in the ASB Classic at Auckland, winning all her matches in straight sets.

    She didn't face a Top 20 player in the process, but it seems that it has given her confidence; she just made the semifinals of the Sydney International with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Italian Roberta Vinci.

    That was the seventh straight win of the year for the Polish star, but it will take a lot more to win her first Grand Slam.

    She has a losing record against the top three seeded players, especially being winless in four matches against the betting favorite Serena Williams.

    Her best finish in the Australian Open is being a quarterfinalist three times—2008, 2011 and 2012.

David Ferrer

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    Tournament Seed: No. 4 Outright Win Odds: 34.00 (Tied for fifth with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 23-10

    Head-to-Head vs. Andy Murray: 5-6

    Head-to-Head vs. Roger Federer: 0-14

    Head-to-Head vs. Novak Djokovic: 5-9

    The Spaniard is a tireless scraper, gutsy player who will make you work for every point.

    Living on the shadow of his fellow Spaniard star, Rafael Nadal, he replaces him in the top four seeds after Nadal had to skip the tournament in his delayed comeback.

    But Ferrer seems to lack that spark of extra class to carry him to the next level; that would take him to win a Grand Slam and defeat one of the big three in the process.

    At least he makes up for that in will power.

    But that doesn't seem enough as the oddsmakers place him in a tie for fifth with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, behind the big three and Juan Martin Del Potro.

Serena Williams

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    Tournament Seed:  No. 3 Outright Win Odds: 1.91 (first)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 54-7

    Head-to-Head vs. Agnieszka Radwanska: 4-0

    Head-to-Head vs. Maria Sharapova: 10-2

    Head-to-Head vs. Victoria Azarenka: 12-1

    Williams is still the top ticket in women's tennis and is the big betting favorite to win her sixth Australian Open Crown; it would be her 16th Grand Slam title.

    She has won the last three tournaments, dating back to the U.S. Open, and since Wimbledon, only Angelique Kerber has been able to defeat her—6-4, 6-4 in Cincinnati.

    She has won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, with the Olympics Singles gold medal in between. This means that, right now, she is working on the calendar Grand Slam.

    She has completely dominated throughout her career the top players in the top three seeds and should feel confident and motivated enough to win again.

    Williams is at her best right now, and when she is at her best, no one can beat her.

Andy Murray

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    Tournament Seed: No. 3 Outright Win Odds: 3.40 (second)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 23-7

    Head-to-Head vs. David Ferrer: 6-5

    Head-to-Head vs. Roger Federer: 10-9

    Head-to-Head vs. Novak Djokovic: 7-10

    Murray, the U.S. Open Champion, just won the Brisbane International and has been showing off his newly bulked-up physique at Melbourne Park during practice.

    He comes into the tournament after having the biggest year of his career.

    He conquered Federer in the Olympics gold-medal match and became the first British player to win a Grand Slam in 76 years when he defeated Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.

    His best prior performances in the tournament were runner-up finishes to Federer in 2010 and to Djokovic in 2011.

    But he is a different player this time around—wiser, faster and especially hungrier. He also has the confidence that he knows he can beat the big two in a final and has the game to do it.

Maria Sharapova

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    Tournament Seed: No. 2 Outright Win Odds: 9.00 (third)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 34-8

    Head-to-Head vs. Agnieszka Radwanska: 8-2

    Head-to-Head vs. Serena Williams: 2-10

    Head-to-Head vs. Victoria Azarenka: 5-7

    Sharapova was able to win the French Open this year, completing the career Grand Slam and making it the highlight of her comeback from right-shoulder surgery in 2008.

    But she is facing some problems on her right shoulder ahead of the Australian Open, as she had to withdraw from the Brisbane International after feeling pain in the shoulder.

    As reported, it is not related to the problems she had back in 2008. Last year, she had to withdraw from the Brisbane International but was able to recover in time and made the Australian Open final.

    Again, the question should be whether or not she is in top shape to win in Melbourne. Since winning the French Open last year, she has lost two finals against Williams and one against Azarenka.

    She will need to be at her best to win.

Roger Federer

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    Tournament Seed: No. 2 Outright Win Odds: 5.00 (third)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 63-9

    Head-to-Head vs. David Ferrer: 14-0

    Head-to-Head vs. Andy Murray: 9-10

    Head-to-Head vs. Novak Djokovic: 16-13

    Federer is the all-time winner in Grand Slam history with 17, and many would say, possibly counting.

    Last year, he proved he still can have a successful year and proved it by returning to the No. 1 ranking after capturing his seventh Wimbledon title. He had to surrender it after pulling out of the Masters in Paris last October.

    He can still beat Djokovic and Murray on his best day.

    Age has not slowed down the Fed Express, and he has as much chance to win this year as he's possibly had the past four years.

    But even Federer admits on a Herald Sun report, there is a new hard-court king.

    "Novak is the favourite going into Australia. He's been the best hard court player in the world for the last couple of years."

Victoria Azarenka

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    Tournament Seed: No. 1 Outright Win Odds: 4.33 (second)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 21-6

    Head-to-Head vs. Agnieszka Radwanska: 12-3

    Head-to-Head vs. Serena Williams: 1-12

    Head-to-Head vs. Maria Sharapova: 7-5

    The defending champion and No. 1-ranked player in the world was last seen pulling out of a much-anticipated rematch with Serena Williams at the Brisbane International semifinal due to a right toe problem.

    As reported, it's a toe infection that had been there for 10 days and was worsening.

    Last year, the 23-year-old Belarusian won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last January before going on to top the rankings and become the WTA Tour's leading prize money winner for 2012.

    She has a winning record against Radwanska and Sharapova, but definitely, Williams has her number.

    With Azarenka's toe problems and Sharapova nursing her right shoulder, it could open the door for Williams to win, even though she also had toe surgery last month.

    Her hopes depend mostly on being healthy and in good shape coming into the tournament—and especially on not facing Williams.

Novak Djokovic

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    Tournament Seed: No. 1 Outright Win Odds: 2.20 (first)

    Australian Open Singles Record: 32-5

    Head-to-Head vs. David Ferrer: 9-5

    Head-to-Head vs. Andy Murray: 10-7

    Head-to-Head vs. Roger Federer: 13-16

    Djokovic started his preparation for the tournament by playing in the Hopman Cup where his home country Serbia lost in the final to Spain.

    His only loss in the competition was to Australian rising start Bernard Tomic in straight sets.

    After that loss, he defeated Italy's Andreas Seppi and then was again impressive in defeating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Saturday night in his final singles match.

    Djokovic closed out his 2012 campaign by winning three of his last four events overall, including the ATP World Tour Finals and the Masters in Shanghai, beating Federer and Murray, respectively.

    You could argue that he is just getting started on his year, and you would be right. Djokovic loves this venue and tournament, he aiming for his fourth triumph here and third in a row.

    He is the one to beat.