The end of 2017 in tennis was marked by the number of injuries at the very top of the game. As we head into the first Grand Slam of 2018, the Australian Open, it’s injuries that once again dominate the headlines.

Andy Murray has been ruled out until at least the grass court season, Kei Nishikori is out with a wrist problem while injury concerns surround Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.

With so many of his major rivals seemingly in bits, Roger Federer is the bookies’ favourite to defend his Australian Open title. He made the most of fast conditions last year and at 36 still seems to have plenty left in the tank for an incredible 20th Grand Slam.

Can Anybody Stop Federer on Fast Courts?

Away from the individuals competing, the big news from last year’s Australian Open was the speed of the courts at Melbourne Park. The Plexicushion surfaces caught out several players, especially the younger competitors who have grown up playing on significantly slower hard courts.

For Roger Federer, the increase in speed was manna from heaven. “I remember my indoor courts that I used to play on in Switzerland. They were lightning … then everything changed,” was his take on the courts last year.

The quicker surfaces allowed Federer to attack at the net and defend with deep slices from the baseline. There is no indication that anything has changed this time around and having warmed up with victory at the Hopman Cup alongside Belinda Bencic, Federer is in good shape for his title defence at 7/4 with Ladbrokes.

Can Zverev Hack the Pace?

Alexander Zverev is one of those younger players who had to adjust to the quicker courts last year but the main problem for the young German was the physical challenge posed by the Australian Open.

While Federer was fortunate enough to play most of his tennis at night, away from the searing Melbourne heat, Zverev was forced to deal with some of the hottest conditions and it became too much for him in the third round against Rafa Nadal. He went down with cramps in that third round five setter, showing him just how fit it is necessary to be to compete at the very top level of tennis.

With more fitness work under his belt and the confidence that comes with winning his first Masters 1000 event in Rome, Zverev could be a real threat in the coming fortnight. Few people doubt that Zverev will win multiple Grand Slams in his career, could the 2018 Australian Open prove to be his breakthrough? Coral are offering 10/1 about his chances which looks tempting enough.

Kyrgios to Wow the Home Crowd

Like Zverev, Nick Kyrgios is another young player with all the ability required to win a Grand Slam. It takes much more than raw ability to reach the heights of world tennis though and Kyrgios has plenty of room to improve in terms of mentality and conditioning.

Although Kyrgios’ game is perhaps best suited to grass court tennis, he’d love to win in front of his home crowd and just last week he won his first ATP tournament in Australia at the Brisbane International. Providing his body doesn’t break down and he remains focused, Kyrgios could upset the odds at 16/1 with Betfred.


Bet €10
Get €15
18+, Welcome Bonus: New Players only, 1st Deposit, Min Deposit: £10, max £10 free bet valid for 14 days, bets must be placed at odds of 1/1 or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. System bets no eligible.T&Cs apply.