By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
Defending champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has established himself as the best player in the world and is even money with Paddy Power to win his third Australian Open on the bounce – his fourth in total.
Britain’s Andy Murray – fresh from his season-opening win in the ATP Brisbane International a fortnight ago is Paddy Power’s second favourite at 11/4 as the Scot looks for his second Grand Slam after last year’s US open heroics.
Djokovic comes under orders against World No. 60 Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round on Monday while Murray faces World No. 53 Robin Hasse later that night. Murray now has 23 ATP events to go alongside his London 2012 Olympic gold medal and US Open title and has a new-found confidence and serenity now that the Major monkey is off his back.
World No.3 Murray spent the off-season training in Miami and said:
I probably just feel a little bit more relaxed maybe the last few weeks than I normally do a few weeks out from a Grand Slam. I prepared very well in Miami and trained hard to get myself ready for the new season, and I hope can be successful here.
Australian Open: Men’s draw
Despite 2009 winner Rafa Nadal (26) crying off with a virus – the competition in Melbourne is going to be fierce and the evergreen Roger Federer will have his supporters at 5/1 with Paddy Power given his record at this event. A semi-finalist or better since 2004 and rediscovered his best form last season.
China’s biggest tennis export Kei ‘Special Kei’ Nishikori could be the surprise package this season. The Japanese youngster got to the quarter-finals of the Aussie Open last season after beating – Jo Wilfried Tsonga – a 40/1 poke this time around – in the third round that was watched by 55 million in Japan.
The 23-year-old already has Djokovic’s scalp to his name and is targeting the Top 10 this year – from World No 19 – and is 125/1 with Paddy Power to go two rounds better and deliver the each-way money.