Assessing the home favourites ahead of the Australian Open.
The 2020 Australian Open is fast approaching, with everyone eager to get their hands on the first Grand Slam title of the new decade. The favourites in the Australian Open odds for both the men’s and women’s singles events are well established, but what about those who will be flying the Australian flag at the Melbourne event?
This year’s tournament will have an extra poignancy for many of the Australian players because of the tragic bush fires that have devastated parts of the country in recent weeks and months. Nick Kyrgios became tearful after the ATP Cup in Brisbane when talking about the bush fires, while Ashleigh Barty pledged to donate all her prize money from the Brisbane International tournament to the bush fire relief fund.
In a country that is hurting, Australian players will be eager to put on a good show as a tribute to those who have lost their homes and livelihoods. Let’s take a look at a few of the home favourites ahead of the competition and assess their chances of success in Melbourne.
Barty is the current world number one in women’s tennis, and one of the heavy favourites to win the Australian Open. The Queensland native announced herself in the game last year with victory at the French Open in Paris, securing her first Grand Slam title. She ended 2019 in fine style by winning the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China.
There will be pressure on Barty to live up to her new-found status as number one, and it will be interesting to see how she handles this pressure in front of a home crowd. Australian tennis fans always give great support, and hopefully Barty will flourish under the spotlight.
Alex de Minaur
De Minaur is the top-ranked male Australian, currently sitting 18th in the ATP world rankings. At 20 years old, the Sydney-born player is one of the best tennis talents Australia has to offer, and will be keen to make an impact at the upcoming Australian Open.
His Grand Slam results in 2019 left a lot to be desired, with a fourth-round exit at the US Open his best finish across the four Grand Slams last year. 2020 could be the year that de Minaur steps up and truly fulfils his potential in the big events. A run to the latter stages of the Australian Open would be a fine start.
You never quite know which Nick Kyrgios is going to show up at a Grand Slam. He has demonstrated arrogant, petulant behaviour at big tournaments in the past, but you would expect that he’ll focus all his efforts on delivering a strong performance given the context of the Australian Open this time around.
On his day, Kyrgios is a fine player, much better than his current ranking of 29 would suggest. If he demonstrates maximum commitment to his game, he could well reach the latter stages of the tournament, but given his relatively low ranking he’ll have to negotiate some tricky seeded players along the way.
While Stosur is something of a fading star in women’s tennis, she remains immensely popular among Australian tennis fans. Despite slipping down the rankings of late, Stosur is a player who has been there and done it in professional tennis, having won the US Open in 2011, and also reaching the French Open final in 2010. Last year, Stosur proved she still has what it takes by winning the women’s doubles title with Zhuang Shuai.
With a home crowd behind her, Stosur will be keen to demonstrate that she can continue to compete at a high level, despite now being 35 years of age. She is a smart, classy player who is not afraid of taking on the game’s top players, and will have plenty of support in Melbourne when the Australian Open gets going.