Dominic Thiem landed the first Grand Slam title of his career at the 2020 US Open. The Austrian is a supremely gifted player who has gone close in majors before, but it’s quite telling that he got his hands on the trophy at an event where Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, amongst others, were absent.
Even more intriguingly, Thiem is only the third player to win a Grand Slam event in the past decade that isn’t one of the ‘big four’ of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray. The others are Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka.
Daniil Medvedev had just won the biggest title of his career, “the best victory” of his life at the ATP Finals, but did not celebrate.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 23, 2020
Here’s why 👉https://t.co/lhLN0bu72p#bbctennispic.twitter.com/YnmVRyC2Qy
While that quartet of stars has been broken down to some extent in recent times due to injury and age, it’s notable that they feature prominently in the tennis betting odds for the upcoming Australian Open. That shows the respect that the sportsbooks have for their immense if aging, talents.
But the disruption to the normal ATP schedule and the reluctance of some stars to travel and engage in more thorough preparation will, of course, offer opportunities for others.
So could we see a fourth first-time major champion in a decade being crowned at the Rod Laver Arena? Eagled eyed bettors will certainly be hoping so…and here are five potential candidates for the trophy.
The Russian is starting to prove himself as a major player in the men’s singles, andhis triumph in the ATP Finals was confirmation that this is a stellar talent in the making.
A former US Open finalist, Medvedev’s metronomic game is perfect for the hard courts, where he is difficult to pass and makes few mistakes.
At 6ft 6in, he boasts a difficult serve to read and return – from that booming 145mph first serve to those devilish kickers out wide on the second.
While slightly susceptible psychologically, perhaps, when he’s not playing well, if Medvedev can produce his A-game for the majority of the Australian Open, as opposed to relying on an average B-game, the 24-year-old will look excellent value at 7/1 with the sportsbooks.
When he won the 2019 ATP Finals, many pundits expected that would be the springboard to further success for Stefanos Tsitsipas.
It hasn’t quite panned out that way, although a quarter-final effort at the 2020 French Open is his best showing in a Grand Slam thus far.
The Greek ace is building an extensive haul of ATP Tour wins, and it seems only a matter of time before his big forehand drive translates onto the major stage.
It’s amazing that Alexander Zverev is still only 23 years old – it feels like he has been around for a decade!
But it’s only recently that the German has begun to cash in on his undoubted potential, and in 2020 he has reached the final of the US Open and the semis of the Australian as well.
Something seems to have clicked for Zverev this year, and there’s no doubt he has the all-round game to win multiple majors – and certainly the Australian Open in 2021.
Is the door of opportunity starting to close for Milos Raonic? At 29, and increasingly injury-plagued, the huge serving Canadian may only have a couple of years left at the top of the game.
If he’s going to win a major, the Canadian’s day in the sun will surely come on a hard court, the surface on which all of his ATP Tour title haul has been won.
Raonic has reached the quarter-finals, at least, in five of his last six trips to the Rod Laver Arena. He’ll be hoping to at least replicate that fine record in 2021.
When you watch Nick Krygios, sometimes you feel as those his hardest opponent in Kyrgios himself.
In a parallel universe, where the Aussie doesn’t have such destructive tendencies, he is surely a multiple-major winner thanks to his huge serve and dominant power on either flank. Back in the real world, his questionable temperament continues to let him down.
If Kyrgios can just hold it together for a whole fortnight, he would be a genuine contender for the Australian Open. But then, so is every other player on this list, which explains why the tournament will be so good to watch!