The build-up to the Australian Open starts in Adelaide where home favourite Alex de Minaur starts as the top seed following the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic from the event.
This is the first year the Adelaide International has been held with the tournament replacing the Sydney International on the schedule for 2020. De Minaur reached the final in each of the past two years at that event and will have the backing of the Australian fans again here.
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He will not have it all his own way, though. Talented young stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev are the second and third seeds respectively, with the top four rounded out by the experience of Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. Taylor Fritz, Cristian Garin, Jan-Lennard Struff and Reilly Opelka, who are all in the top 40 in the world rankings, round out the seedings.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Alexander Bublik have been added to the draw for the 2020 Adelaide International after the withdrawal of Djokovic and French star Lucas Pouille.
With the ATP Cup the only competition to have been played this year, it is hard to judge the form of players for this tournament, but where is the best value to be found among the top tennis bookmakers?
Organisers Disappointed by Djokovic Withdrawal
With many top name stars taking this week off to prepare for the Australian Open later in the month, securing Djokovic to the bill was something of a coup for the Adelaide International.
So, it is not a surprise that the organisers of the tournament have been left frustrated by the Serbian superstar’s decision to pull out of entering the draw, with no explanation given for his absence from the event.
“We know how disappointed Novak is about not being able to play in Adelaide this year and we hope to welcome him to the tournament next year,” the Adelaide International’s tournament director Alistair MacDonald said.
Djokovic has been playing for Serbia at the newly launched ATP Cup this month so may feel he has got enough matches and court time under his belt ahead of the Australian Open.
The tournament will also be hosting the Adelaide International Rally for Resilience, which features various elite stars such as Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber in order to raise funds for bushfire relief in Australia.
“We encourage South Australians to get behind this initiative and we will continue to support the Aces for Bushfire Relief program operating throughout the summer of tennis,” added tournament director MacDonald of the initiative, which is set to take place on January 12.
De Minaur Steps up in Djokovic’s Absence
The lack of Djokovic in the draw means that De Minaur starts as both the top seed and the favourite in the betting odds for the inaugural Adelaide International event.
The 20-year-old starts the year in the top 20 of the world rankings – the only player present in the draw to be in the top 20 – and will be hoping to continue his progress from the 2019 season.
De Minaur tends to perform well on home soil and he had a very good record at the Sydney International, which previously occupied this week’s slot on the ATP calendar.
He reached the 2018 final in what was a breakthrough display, collapsing to a defeat against Daniil Medvedev after taking the first set 6-1. A year later he made amends by proving too good for the Italian Andreas Seppi, easing to victory in straight sets.
A change in venue means De Minaur will not be in a familiar location but his previous performances in home events suggest he is a fair favourite around the 4/1 mark here, especially as his performances at the ATP Cup for Australia have been very solid indeed.
De Minaur starts with a bye and may face compatriot Jordan Thompson – who has been given a wildcard into the draw – in the second round.
Rublev to Make His Mark?
De Minaur’s main competition for the title could come from Rublev, who has already picked up a trophy since the turn of the year. The Russian beat Frenchman Corentin Moutet to claim glory in Doha, collecting the second ATP title of his promising career.
“It’s amazing. I’m always really happy to play here. I always enjoy my time here and to finally win the title is something special for me,” Rublev said. “It’s an amazing start to the season for me and I hope I can keep this level.”
At 5/1 in the betting, Rublev – who may make his top-20 debut when the world rankings are updated at the start of the week – is a viable alternative to De Minaur for those who want to back one of the favourites to win the Adelaide International.
Another name in the frame is Auger-Aliassime, who is yet to win a title on the ATP tour but is surely set to break that duck during a 2020 that may end up having his name stamped all over it.
Auger-Aliassime, who can be backed at 12/1 in the betting for the Adelaide International, will face either a qualifier or home player James Duckworth in the second round after a bye.
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Picking a winner this early in the season is more challenging than usual, but the ATP Cup has offered some hints as to who could be set to start 2020 in fine form.
De Minaur has thrived in that event for Australia and he tends to start seasons well, having reached the final of the Adelaide International’s predecessor event in Sydney in each of the last two years.
The 20-year-old looks to be the man to beat at a price of 4/1, but a couple of other players may prove to be better value alternatives in the draw to De Minaur.
One of them could be Carreno Busta, who often seems to go under the radar despite his consistent performances and high level of experience. He can be backed at 11/1 this week.
Fritz at 25/1 is another interesting option for those willing to take an even larger price on.