Andy Murray starts another campaign to add to his honours at the Australian Open this evening, and we’re willing to put our necks on the line and tip the Scot as the smartest bet to claim his first major title in Oz.
On the face of it, tipping the current world no.1 to lift the trophy on January 29 isn’t much of a surprise, but according to the 888sport tennis betting odds, Murray’s long-term rival Novak Djokovic is actually the favourite to retain his title and probably reclaim the top spot in the rankings at the same time.
888sport price Djokovic at 6/4 to see off the rest of the men’s draw, whilst Murray comes in at a generous 7/4 to finally end his hoodoo in Melbourne.
Remarkably, despite winning Wimbledon twice, and the US Open once, Murray has managed to reach five (yes, FIVE) Australian Open finals and has lost every single won – most recently to Djokovic in straight sets.
But that win in January last year was probably the last time Djokovic really lauded it over Murray; since then, Murray has been pretty much unstoppable in the men’s game and looks so content with his game.
For so long, the monkey on Murray’s back was the challenge of actually becoming the first Brit in more than 70 years to win a major. Once he’d achieved that, his next task was to take down Wimbledon.
He’s now done both, and on top of all that, he’s managed to usurp Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Djokovic to become the official no.1 in a truly golden era of men’s tennis – it seems Murray has nothing left to prove.
And it’s precisely because he has nothing left to prove that Murray is surely the strongest bet at 7/4. Murray will be able to play without pressure, and free from any internal demons.
Another factor that can’t be ignored is that the 29-year-old has never been happier off the court, having became a dad for the first time and surprisingly reuniting with former coach Ivan Lendel.
Conversely, favourite Djokovic has never really fully explained his stunning exit at Wimbledon and he continues to look ratty, tense and argumentative during press conferences.
Moreover, the Serb split from his coach, the legendary Boris Becker, a little over a month ago and it remains to be seen just how much of an affect that could have on several aspects of Djokovic’s game.
Becker helped steer Djokovic to a whopping 25 titles in their three years together, including a brilliant six Grand Slam crowns. In fact, it could be argued that Becker’s experience, influence and nous helped Djokovic go on one of the greatest and most successful runs in the history of the men’s game.
When you’re weighing up your bets for the Australian Open, the split should feature high in your thinking.
Murray begins his campaign against world no.95 Illya Marchenkoof Ukraine at around midnight on Monday night, and assuming there are no upsets along the way, Murray is scheduled to meet Djokovic in the final.
At odds of 7/4 – almost double your money – Murray has to be where your money’s going; there’s no way he’s going to lose a sixth final, no chance.
However, if you do fancy a bit of a shock, Rafa Nadal is priced at 12/1 with 888sport to add to his solitary Australian Open title back in 2009, whilst the enigmatic Nick Kyrgios represents decent value at 37/1 to finally fulfill his talent and claim his first-ever Grand Slam in front of a passionate home crowd.
There’s definitely a few quid to be made over the next three weeks – it’s just up to you to put your money where your mouth is!