Jay Jarrahi, founder of an excellent tennis handicapping site called “The Overrule,” has graciously agreed to share his wisdom with BTB readers before—and possibly during—the 2013 Australian Open, which begins on Sunday.
In this post, Jarrahi breaks down the men’s side, where Novak Djokovic is favored to win a third straight Aussie Open. Be sure to check out Jarrahi’s site, and also give him a follow on Twitter.
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Novak Djokovic (+100)
The world No. 1 is as short as 4/6 to win his third successive Australian Open title and what would be his fourth in six years. That price move can be attributed to a favorable draw and it’s very difficult to see how Djokovic doesn’t at least reach the final. Last year, the Serbian defeated Rafael Nadal in a grueling final that tested their athletic ability and endurance to breaking point. There is no Nadal this year and at worst Djokovic will only have to face one of Andy Murray or Roger Federer.
Andy Murray (+365)
Now that the monkey is well and truly off Murray’s back after his successes at the London Olympics—and, most notably, his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open—it will be interesting to see if a more relaxed Murray translates into an even more dangerous player. The pressure the British public and media exert on Murray may have eased, but that’s not to say the pressure and expectations he demands of himself won’t remain the same. Murray drew Juan Martin del Potro in his quarter and that makes life complicated, as he’ll likely have to go through del Potro, Federer and Djokovic to lift the title.
Roger Federer (+605)
The greatest player in the history of men’s tennis is as big a price to win the Australian Open as he has been in many a year at 6/1. Federer is aiming for his fifth title in Melbourne and he’s been tasked with a steady diet of potentially competitive matches to do so. There has been much talk of how testing Federer’s first few matches could be, but there is no reason to believe he won’t negotiate them. Federer will hope to conserve as much energy as possible in the first week ahead of what will be some titanic battles to come in the second week.
ON THE BUBBLE
David Ferrer (+3000)
No matter what happens at the Australian Open, Ferrer will become the Spanish No. 1 once it’s over, as Nadal takes a ranking points drop since he is unable to defend or improve upon the points he gained in Melbourne last year. Despite that notable achievement, it’s a Grand Slam title that Ferrer would dearly love to add to his list of achievements. Ferrer is constantly spoken of as one of, if not the most, underrated player on tour. However, at this point it should be obvious to all how well, consistent and tough Ferrer plays on a weekly basis. You have to beat Ferrer; he doesn’t beat himself.
Juan Martin del Potro (+2375)
The Argentine lies fourth in the betting and rightfully so as the only other man in the draw along with the three main contenders who knows what it’s like to taste Grand Slam success. Del Potro won the US Open in 2009, beating Nadal and Federer in the last four and final, and looked set to make a serious run at possibly being a world No. 1. Injury cost him a year out of the game in 2010 and del Potro needed 2011 to regain his footing on tour. Last year saw more and more glimpses of del Potro at his best, culminating in a bronze medal at the Olympics after coming ever so close to defeating Federer in the semi-finals. If he remains healthy, del Potro could make a lot of noise in 2013, but he was given the stiffest test possible with his draw, where he’ll probably need to knock off the top three contenders.
Bernard Tomic (+5000)
January is that time of year where the Tomic hype machine begins to hit top gear while the rest of the season is usually spent with him being in reverse. At only 20 years of age, Tomic has much to learn and improve on but there is no denying he has talent. Immaturity has been the hallmark of his career thus far, but there have been signs in the build-up to this Australian Open that he may have, at least momentarily, had his head screwed on straight. Tomic is scheduled for a third-round meeting with Federer, which has ‘night-match’ on Rod Laver Arena written all over it. We might have found out how far Tomic has come if that match comes to fruition and how much further he still needs to go if he is to fulfill his own claim of becoming “the greatest player to ever play this sport.” The kind of outlandish proclamation that even Muhammad Ali would be proud of.
Grigor Dimitrov (+17500)
The 21-year-old Bulgarian has certainly been making headlines lately with rumors gathering pace that he and Maria Sharapova are now a couple. If that is indeed true, Dimitrov’s off-court game clearly doesn’t need much work. However, on the court, Dimitrov hasn’t, in my view, earned the ‘Baby Fed(erer)’ nickname that many attribute to him. Dimitrov has a draw at the Australian Open where you can make a legitimate case for him reaching the last eight and yet at the same time, he may just as easily lose to Julien Benneteau in the first round.