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Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek open Australian Open as big favorites

Jan 12, 2023; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a backhand during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena with his coach Goran Ivanisevic at Melbourne Park. Mandatory Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek are massive favorites to win their respective draws ahead of the start of the Australian Open on Sunday night.

Djokovic makes his return to Melbourne after being deported ahead of last year’s tournament because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. He is seeking a 10th Australian Open title, which would also pull him into a tie with Rafael Nadal for the most major titles of all time with 22.

Djokovic picked up No. 21 at Wimbledon last year and finished 2022 with a victory at the Nitto ATP Finals, completing a run of 18 wins over a 19-match span. His path at Melbourne was made easier when world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz was forced to withdraw due to a leg injury.

The 35-year-old Serbian is the -120 favorite at BetMGM to win the men’s title. His closest competitor is Daniil Medvedev (+600), who fell to Nadal in last year’s final. Nadal is being offered at +1400, but the 36-year-old is just 4-7 since withdrawing from the semifinals of Wimbledon due to injury.

Nadal, who opens with a tough match against 40th-ranked Jack Draper, potentially could meet Medvedev in the quarterfinals.

Also being offered at +1400 is Stefanos Tsitsipas, with Nick Kyrgios opening the tournament at +1600.

The top American is Taylor Fritz, who is being offered at +2000 along with Jannik Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Fritz, 25, is seeking his first major title and faces a potential semifinal match against Djokovic if he can get that far.

On the women’s side, Swiatek is the heavy +240 favorite, with her closest competition being Aryna Sabalenka at +700. In addition to a record 37-match win streak, Swiatek’s 2022 included major titles at the French and U.S. Opens.

The 21-year-old from Poland lost in last year’s semifinals to Danielle Collins (+3300), who went on to lose to Ashleigh Barty in the finals. Barty has since retired, as has Serena Williams, and four-time major champion Naomi Osaka is pregnant and taking 2023 off.

The women’s draw was further depleted with the withdrawals of Ajla Tomljanovic and Paula Badosa due to injury.

Sabalenka, 24, reached three semifinals last year but has yet to reach a grand slam final. American Jessica Pegula begins the tournament at +1000 despite never advancing past the quarterfinals of a major. She has reached the final eight in Melbourne each of the past two years and was a quarterfinalist at three majors in 2022.

Ons Jabeur was turned back in the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year. She is being offered at +1400 along with American Coco Gauff and Caroline Garcia.

–Field Level Media

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