It took some time to arrive, but now that it’s here, the 2021 Australian Open is the first tennis Grand Slam of the year and the action has begun Down Under.
With Serbian sledger Novak Djokovic the favourite in the Men’s Singles, we’ve taken a look at the routes to the final and how the opening matches can guide us towards making the right bets.
Big Names Survive Scares in Early Rounds
Rafael Nadal may have made light work of the opening round match he had against Serbian player Laslo Djere, but the ease with which the Majorcan made the 2nd round wasn’t shared by some others.
Nadal won 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to advance in style, and he was joined in Round 2 by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, both Russians advancing without worry, but elsewhere, big names either clung onto their next round berth or were eliminated.
David Goffin was beaten in five sets by homegrown Aussie wildcard Alexei Popyrin, while 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut couldn’t put a Spanish flag in sight of the win as he went down in four sets despite leading to Moldovan outsider Radu Albot.
Swiss star Stan Wawrinka lost in five sets too, shot down 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9) by gutsy opponent from Hungary Marton Fucsovics. The same fate nearly befell Novak Djokovic, whose match against the American Frances Tiafoe went this way and that before seeing the world number one progress in four sets.
Kyrgios the Star of the Show
There was no doubt who the crowds who were allowed into the Melbourne Arena were there to see, with Nick Kyrgios, ranked 47th in the world, took on French 29th seed Ugo Humbert.
In a rollercoaster tie, Kyrgios lost the first set, smashed his racquet to receive a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, moaned about net cords and grumbled his way through five sets.
He also saved four match points during the fourth set, rallied with some amazing winners and eventually, stunningly, outlasted Humbert to triumph 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 in a shade under four hours.
Kyrgios was great to watch in the post-match interview instead:
Impossible to fully dislike, the crowd (and likely Kyrgios) really will go wild in the next round as the brattish Aussie will take on reigning U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, who Kyrgios compared to ‘watching paint dry’ when sharing some time inspired by red wine with Andy Murray in a live Q&A during the original pandemic lockdown.
Thiem taking on home-boy Kyrgios? Like oh-so-many sewing enthusiasts, we’re here for that kind of needle.
Current Australian Open Odds (via Oddschecker):
Novak Djokovic – 6/5
Daniil Medvedev – 4/1
Rafael Nadal – 8/1
Dominic Thiem – 9/1
Stefanos Tsitsipas – 14/1
Alexander Zverev – 20/1
Andrey Rublev – 27/1
Alex De Minaur – 50/1
Nick Kyrgios – 50/1