Australian Open: Bookies' verdict

  • Last Updated: January 9 2013, 17:44 GMT

We've sought out the bookies' views on the forthcoming Australian Open - check out what they had to say.

  • Can Andy Murray add to his US Open success in Melbourne?
  • Serena Williams: The one to beat in the women's draw 

Will Andy Murray make it two Grand Slams out of two or will Novak Djokovic maintain his grip on the Australian Open trophy?

As for the women, is Serena Williams nailed on as her odds-on prices suggest?

Our Andy Schooler has spoken to some of the leading bookmakers to find out their views on the tournament, which gets under way in Melbourne on Monday.

Who's your pick for the men's singles title?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: It is difficult to look beyond Novak Djokovic winning his third consecutive title in Melbourne. He looked ominously good in the Mubadala exhibition, and the defeat to (Bernard) Tomic aside, he cruised through the Hopman Cup. He has enjoyed playing at this tournament before, and while it is not a very imaginative pick, I cannot really see that anyone can stop him lifting his fourth Australian Open title.

David Stevens, Coral: With Rafa Nadal sadly missing from the season's opening Major, the betting says it's a three horse race, with all bar Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer available at double-figure odds and bigger, and the betting has it spot on. The Serbian is a worthy favourite as he seeks to complete a hat-trick of wins at Melbourne Park, but 2012 was a breakthrough year for the British number one, and at the prices, I'm backing Murray. Twice a runner-up in this event, the confidence he gained from his first Wimbledon final, his Olympic gold and finally that all-important breakthrough Major win at Flushing Meadows, can see him go all the way.

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Novak Djokovic is my pick for the men's title. He has won the last two Australian Open titles and looks in great shape physically and mentally to complete the hat-trick.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: Djokovic should win the men's event and it would be a surprise to us if it's not him or Murray that takes home the first major of 2013.

Is it a three-horse race or can anyone other than Djokovic, Federer and Murray win? If so, who?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: Out of all the Grand Slams, the Australian Open has often been the one to throw up a surprise finalist or winner. Despite this, I think it is quite unlikely for anyone outside the top three to challenge at this moment. It would need one of the big hitters to find a hot streak and come through the draw. (Juan Martin) Del Potro, (Tomas) Berdych or (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga would be the likely candidates here, but realistically you would think they would have to beat two of the big three, and I can't see that happening.

David Stevens, Coral: Simple answer, no! However, to go one step further, while it would be foolish to dismiss the chances of the greatest ever player to wield a racket, I would suggest we are on the cusp of a new era in men's tennis, with Roger Federer about to be put in the shade by his two younger rivals and, draw permitting, Djokovic and Murray should lock horns in a Grand Slam final once more.

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: I'd almost go as far as saying it's a two-horse race between Djokovic and Murray with Roger Federer as the lively outsider. Federer has not made a Grand Slam final on hardcourt for almost three years now and he will have his work out in the best-of-five format to beat these two. The Aussie Open has thrown up some surprise finalists in the past but it would take some unlikely twists and turns for a shock winner this year.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: There is scope for a bigger-priced player making the final, and it has happened a fair bit before in Australia, but realistically we cannot see an upset happening this year.

Serena Williams is a pretty hot favourite for the ladies' title having lost once since May. Do you see her being beaten?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: If Serena turns up and brings her best game, she is simply unbeatable at the moment. Having said that, in Grand Slams, she does have a tendency to throw in a poor match once a tournament. We saw it against (Ekaterina) Makarova at last year's Australian Open, against (Virginie) Razzano at the French, and against Zheng (Jie) at Wimbledon. If she is able to come through that blip, as she did at Wimbledon, she will win the tournament.

David Stevens, Coral: Odds-on quotes about Serena say it all - if she turns up with her A-game she will be too strong, and her Brisbane International win strongly suggests that she has brought that A-game Down Under with her. Ignore the world rankings that have her at number three, she is the one to beat and I fully expect her to win.

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Serena is always capable of having a bad day but, on recent form, she'd have to be throw in a shocker to let anyone other than (Victoria) Azarenka take her scalp.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: Serena isn't unbeatable but nobody is making a compelling case as an alternative. Azarenka has to have the best chance of an upset but she's second favourite and there are far too many question marks over some of the others. The draw will give a better indication of who might be likely to make the latter stages.

If not Serena, then who?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: Victoria Azarenka is the obvious candidate. The world number one pushed Serena all the way at the US Open, and arguably should have beaten her, having served for the match. If she can raise her level, she could be a threat. Other than her, I don't believe that (Maria) Sharapova or (Petra) Kvitova will be consistent enough, so the two outsiders that could have a chance are Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska. Li Na has reached the final here before and has looked solid in Sydney so far, while Radwanska proved she can compete at the tail-end of Grand Slams at Wimbledon last year.

David Stevens, Coral: Reigning champion and number one seed Victoria Azarenka is second favourite for good reason, and with other leading contenders suffering injury doubts or lack of form, for once the women's draw could mirror the men's, and see the first two in the betting fight it out.

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Azarenka is the clear second-best player in the women's field and should be the one to cash in if Serena has an off day.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: Azarenka has to have the best chance of an upset but she's second favourite and there are far too many question marks over some of the others. The draw will give a better indication of who might be likely to make the latter stages.

There's plenty of attention on Britons Laura Robson and Heather Watson these days. What can be expected of them?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: Both Robson and Watson have just broken into the top 50, but to expect them to make any sort of serious run at the Australian Open is a bit of a push. Both will be hoping to progress through a couple of rounds, and I think that they would both be happy with reaching the third round. Whether they can do that entirely depends on the draw that they receive.

David Stevens, Coral: These two players have the ability to win tournaments, as we have seen, but I doubt they are ready to play a part in the latter stages of a Grand Slam event just yet. Progression to the second week would be a highly commendable achievement for either girl, but let's not get carried away, they won't be joining Andy Murray as a Major winner any time soon. Sorry!

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: Everything really depends on the draw for these two as both are still unseeded and they are relying on a kind passage to dodge the big guns early on. Fourth round and beyond would be seen as good progress for either of these two.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: Robson and Watson can both make the third round if the draw enables them to avoid the bigger names early on, anything on top of that is achievable but would have to be considered a bonus.

From all the available markets, what is your best bet for the tournament as a whole?

Ian Dorward, Stan James: It may not be a particularly big price, but the 21/20 on Serena Williams is certainly not a bad investment. On form, she is a class above the rest of the field and she will be eager to lift her sixth Australian Open and her 16th overall Grand Slam singles title.

David Stevens, Coral: Keep it simple - an Andy Murray/Serena Williams win double to get the year off to a flyer!

Chris Kennedy, Sky Bet: I am going for a Djokovic/Serena Williams double for the singles events. Both are in peak condition and can oblige favourite backers.

Jessica Bridge, Ladbrokes: We'll play a straight bat in hope Murray picks up where he left off last year, as well as coming into the tournament as Brisbane International winner - Andy Murray to win at 11/4.

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