Net Talk: Best bets for 2014
The Christmas edition of Net Talk has all you need ahead of the new season - including a guide to the best bets for 2014.
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With the new season now just days away (full details below), this week I'm focusing on the best bets for the 2014 ATP and WTA seasons.
Initially published last week, you can read my ATP World Tour season verdict in which I'm backing John Isner to perform better than the bookies expect, while there's just no way Florian Mayer should be 20/1 to finish the year as German number one.
My 2014 WTA preview leads off on Heather Watson, who I feel will bounce back after her miserable, illness-wrecked 2013 season.
To also get you in the mood for the new campaign, you can check out who's playing where at the start of the season and which tournaments will be televised on which UK channel - both pieces are columns from recent weeks.
Of all the bookies out there, our betting partner Sky Bet has arguably the biggest range of markets available ahead of the new season. I've mentioned plenty of them in my previews above, while last week I highlighted several others.
There are simply so many that you are best off visiting their website if you want to find out exactly what's available.
Just remember to place your bets before the season gets under way this coming Sunday.
Stat of the week
In 2013, Rafael Nadal was the first player to finish the season as world number one having been ranked outside the top three the previous year since Andy Roddick did so in 2003. That suggests history is against Andy Murray, currently ranked fourth, in his bid to finish 2014 as world number one.
What you may have missed
Novak Djokovic shocked the tennis world by hiring Boris Becker as his new 'head coach'.
In terms of unexpected decisions, the ITF trumped the Becker announcement by, on the very same day, announcing Novak Djokovic as their 2013 world champion ahead of Rafael Nadal. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggled to fathom why. Serena Williams took the women's honour.
David Ferrer announced a split from long-standing coach Javier Piles. He will now work with Jose Altur.
Americans Steve Johnson and Sachia Vickery both won their way into the Australian Open main draw.
This week in tennis
Thursday to Saturday: The season kicks off in Abu Dhabi with the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. For what is essentially an exhibition event, it's grandly titled but does feature some of the world's best. Andy Murray makes his injury comeback on Thursday against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The winner will play Novak Djokovic in the semis the following day. Rafael Nadal is also taking part.
Saturday onwards: The ITF's Hopman Cup mixed team tournament gets under way in Perth. That's Australia, not Scotland. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Agnieszka Radwanska headline.
Saturday: The world's top two women, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, face off in an exhibition match in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Sunday onwards: The new ATP and WTA seasons officially start in Brisbane where Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the top seeds. The action also begins at the WTA's Shenzhen Open where home hope Li Na will be looking to defend her title.
For anyone who doesn't already know, this week is a good one to mention the official ATP and WTA accounts - @ATPWorldTour and @WTA.
@SportingLife and @NetTalkTennis are the feeds you need to stay in touch with us.