(Image credit: Tourism Victoria)
This is part two of our 2-part series covering the 2018 Australian Open. In this part, we preview the women’s singles portion of the tournament. See part one for our preview of the men’s singles.
With no Williams sisters in the second round of the Australian Open, the draw for the first major of the year looks to be as wide open as in any of the tournament’s recent years.
Serena Williams – the seven-time champion of this grand slam tournament – had planned to take part at Melbourne Park but eventually decided her body was not in the right state to compete, having only recently given birth to her first child.
Best 2018 Australian Open Betting Sites
Williams’ decision was completely understandable but it does leave the draw lacking a touch of star power, especially as her sister Venus was beaten in the first round by Belinda Bencic.
Simona Halep is the top seed as she sits in the number one position in the world rankings, but the Romanian is still yet to win her maiden grand slam title. She has shown a lot of nerves on the big stage and her mental fragility could make her vulnerable to a shock defeat.
Other likely contenders for the Australian Open crown include the narrow favourite Elina Svitolina, Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki. That none of these players are available at bigger than 10/1 shows how little there is between the elite.
There is also the enticing proposition of Maria Sharapova going deep into the event. Whether or not Sharapova should be allowed to compete after her doping ban is up for debate, but at her best she will be a big threat despite being unseeded in the draw.
Picking a winner for the Australian Open is a big challenge, but who are the ones to watch? We will discuss our thoughts and look at a couple of quality picks in the rest of this post following a quick comparison of the betting odds.
Women’s Australian Open Betting Odds
The follow odds tables show what each bookmaker is paying for each woman to win the 2018 Australian Open. We begin first with a look at the prices offered by the best international tennis bookmakers.
Halep Must Conquer Mental Demons
Halep might be the top seed but she is not the favourite, with her 8/1 price leaving her slightly behind Svitolina in the prices for this year’s Australian Open.
The Romanian is in a difficult quarter, with the top half of the draw looking the stronger. Camila Giorgi, Elena Vesnina and Lucie Safarova are all in the top quarter, along with the likes of Johanna Konta, Petra Kvitova, Ash Barty and Pliskova.
If Halep emerges as the winner of the top quarter she will have had to play a high standard of tennis, but there are just too many doubts about her ability to produce on the big stage.
Halep has only been in the final of a grand slam twice – both appearances coming at the French Open on her strongest surface, the clay – so it is just impossible to make a case for backing her.
Australian teenager Destanee Aiava is up first for Halep and it is not inconceivable that she crashes out at the first hurdle at Melbourne Park this year – she has done it before, after all.
Svitolina Tops Odds for Australian Open Maiden Crown
Ranked fourth in the world, Svitolina is an intriguing tournament favourite, with her odds to win this year’s Australian Open at around the 7/1 mark with most major bookmakers.
The 23-year-old Ukrainian, like Halep, is yet to perform at her highest level at a grand slam event. In fact, she has never been beyond the quarter-finals of a major and her joint-best result at Melbourne Park was last year, when she got to the third round.
Svitolina has been touted as a potential multiple major champion, but at some point she has to start converting her massive potential into trophies. She has won 10 career singles titles – including one already in 2018 – so her ability is not in doubt.
Kerber is a player with a lot more big-game experience and 10/1 on the German may prove to be a steal. Champion at the Australian Open two years ago, when she beat Serena Williams in the final, few can stop Kerber when she performs to the best of her ability.
After a poor 2017, there have been promising signs for Kerber under her new coach Wim Fissette and she should certainly be in the discussion for a player to back for the title.
Seeded 21st, Kerber faces fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam in the first round. Sharapova could await in the third round and that would be a very tasty encounter indeed.
Pliskova Poised for a Big Year
Last year was a breakthrough season for Karolina Pliskova, who enters the Australian Open ranked sixth in the world.
Pliskova reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open a year ago and went one step further at the French Open, but major title glory continues to elude the 25-year-old.
On her day, Pliskova is a match for anyone and like Kerber, she is working with a new coach – Tomas Krupa. Pliskova has struggled after a shock early loss at Wimbledon last season, but a fresh start for the new year could allow her to shake off the shackles and claim the title.
Ultimately, though, 10/1 is simply too short for a player who is yet to prove she is good enough to win on a major stage, so Pliskova can be overlooked for the Australian Open this year.
Rounding off the batch of players available at around the 10/1 mark is Wozniacki, the Dane likely to thrive on the fast hard courts at Melbourne Park.
The second seed, Wozniacki does not have a lot of lurking threats in her section of the draw and passage through to at least the fourth round really ought to be serene.
From there, 2017 WTA Finals champion Wozniacki has the big-game experience required to collect a first major title, having lost in the final of the US Open on two occasions.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza could appeal at 12/1, but injury concerns hang over the Spaniard. However, with two grand slam titles to her name, the 24-year-old is a proven threat if she is able to stay fit enough to compete.
Australian Open Women’s Best Bets
Grand slams without the Williams sisters always open up the possibility of a shock winner and this is certainly a possibility at the Australian Open this year. US Open champion Sloane Stephens and tenth seed Coco Vandeweghe – who bizarrely ranted at the umpire over a lack of bananas on the court – are already out, helping to open the draw even further.
Jelena Ostapenko came from nowhere to win the French Open and the young Latvian has struggled to follow up that unlikely victory. But assuming she comes through an early tough test against Francesca Schiavone, she may prove to be very good value at 14/1.
Similarly, Muguruza’s price of 12/1 takes into account her fitness but the Spaniard is arguably the best player at the tournament in Serena’s absence, so that price looks to be too big.
Bencic is a threat having already disposed of Venus Williams and the unseeded 20-year-old is a major danger in a draw that is looking to open up for her. The Swiss is still available at 25/1 but after a couple more wins, those odds will soon come down dramatically.
Big servers usually go well at the Australian Open, which makes the talented American Madison Keys potentially one to watch at a price of around the 22/1 mark. Home fans will hope the exciting Ash Barty can go some way to justifying the increasing hype at odds of 33/1.
Available at 25/1, the best value might well be with British number one Konta. While the second half of 2017 was forgettable, she has great form at Melbourne Park, having been to the quarter-finals and the semi-finals on her last two visits. Konta also got to the semi-finals of her home grand slam, Wimbledon, last season and she looks poised to break into the elite in 2018.