The Australian Open is back, and this year’s tournament on the women’s side of the draw is shaping up to be a blockbuster. Although we won’t see the usual names of Ash Barty and Serena Williams gracing Rod Laver Arena this time around, there are a number of supremely talented up-and-coming prospects and seasoned veterans who will prove tough to beat at Melbourne Park.
With that in mind, read on as we dissect the three favourites in the Australian Open odds to lift the famed Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
At just 21 years of age, three-time singles Grand Slam winner Iga Swiatek has the potential to go down as one of the greatest female players in the sport’s history when all is said and done. Her French Open triumphs in 2020 and 2022 and US Open victory in September of last year was a fine display of picture-book tennis – with her effortless stroke play and decision-making arguably the best in the game today.
The world number one enters this year’s Australian Open as the favourite at 7/4 – despite a less than stellar preparation since arriving Down Under. The Pole lost in straight sets to American Jessica Pegula in the United Cup – an opponent she had beaten on four previous occasions.
Visibly upset in the aftermath of her loss, Swiatek spoke about the disappointing performance she put forth.
“She’s one of the best players in the world so you have to be really on top of your game to win,” Swiatek said.
“It was always like that, even last season, so I’m not surprised, because I know what she can do. I’m more surprised I wasn’t able to step up to her game today.”
She will need to put the poor performance behind her and gear up for what will be a gruelling Australian Open campaign – and if she can return to the form that saw her go on a 37-match winning streak last year – she should go all the way.
The joint-second favourite is Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, who will be hoping to secure her first single’s Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park. The 24-year-old is currently ranked number five in the world, and could pose her opponents a number of problems with her style of play. Standing just shy of six-feet-tall, Sabalenka plays with an aggressive mindset and a level of brute force that can oftentimes overwhelm her opposition.
However, Sabalenka’s issues in recent seasons has been her consistency – therefore – if she can prove to be more reliable on serve and cut down on her unforced errors at the Open – she’s a good chance of overcoming the odds and upsetting Swiatek if they were to meet later in the tournament.
Sabalenka will take plenty of confidence from her most recent outing against her Polish rival, defeating the number one ranked player at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas in November.
The other joint-second favourite alongside Sabalenka to reign supreme on January 28 is world number four Caroline Garcia. Although the Frenchwoman hasn’t particularly lit the world on fire at Grand Slams in year’s past – having only made the semi-final once at a major at the US Open last year – the 29-year-old is coming off the back of some strong performances towards the end of 2022.
In addition to reaching the aforementioned semi-final at Flushing Meadows in September, Garcia also defeated Sabalenka in straight sets in the WTA Finals at Fort Worth in Texas, catapulting her to a career-high in rankings.
Given Garcia’s experience and incredible six months of tennis – for those after Australian Open tips – she could be a value bet at 12/1.