Tennis expert Sean Calvert casts his eye over the men's draw for the Australian Open, which he believes has merely strengthened Novak Djokovic's chances of retaining his title...
"My play on this will be to back the winning double of Djokovic and Serena Williams..."
The draw has been made for the 2013 Australian Open and we're all set for the opening Grand Slam of the season.
And that draw has made defending champion Novak Djokovic even more likely to win, as he has avoided the second, third and fourth favourites in the outright betting and consequently the Serb is in to around 2.111/10 to retain his title.
The early opposition to Djokovic looks relatively weak, with first round opponent Paul-Henri Mathieu unlikely to sustain much of a challenge over five sets.
I can't see one of the trio of Radek Stepanek, Viktor Troicki or Feli Lopez causing too may problems either, unless Steps has the match of his life and following that Djokovic will probably face Sam Querrey or Stan Wawrinka.
The latter seems the most likely opponent given Querrey's awful record in Australia but the only realistic hurdles that Djokovic will face are Tomas Berdych in the last eight and perhaps David Ferrer in the semi finals.
Nole must be delighted with that draw given his 11-1 record against the Czech and 8-0 on hard courts mark over the Spaniard.
Ferrer's quarter is the most likely section where a big priced player could come through and many will look to Jerzy Janowicz to be that man, but it seems fanciful to think that one great tournament, indoors, at the end of the season can then equate to a run at a Grand Slam. And he seems short at 190.0189/1.
If it weren't for the fact that he's a bit of a 'sicknote' I would rather be on Kei Nishikori at 250.0249/1 or Janko Tipsarevic at 370.0369/1 if he can avoid 'sudden fatigue' or other such ailments. Both have the game to beat Ferrer and the Japanese particularly could be a contender if he didn't break down injured every five minutes.
Grigor Dimitrov will have his backers, but 170.0169/1 seems short for a player who has reached one ATP 250 final in his career so far.
The bottom half of the draw is loaded with talent, with Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro the main contenders, along with notables such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic, and Richard Gasquet.
Murray's section, which begins with a first round match against the flashy but inconsistent Dutchman Robin Haase, looks pretty comfortable for the Scot early on.
Only an inspired Alex Dolgopolov looks capable of denting Murray's hopes, but in the heat I can't see that happening and he should progress to a quarter-final with probably Del Potro.
The Argentine has never been past the quarters in Melbourne and I'm not a huge fan of him not playing a warm-up tournament other than Kooyong. I would expect Murray to win that match if it happens.
Of course, Federer and Djokovic haven't played on the tour in 2013 either and will be an early highlight to watch the Swiss maestro take on Benoit Paire, Nikolay Davydenko and Bernard Tomic in quick succession.
Federer hasn't won a hard court slam since here in Melbourne three years ago, which was also the last time he reached a final on hard and with his section also containing Tsonga, Raonic, Gasquet, Tommy Haas and Philip Kohlschreiber he could have wished for something a bit easier.
Raonic should be bigger than 170.0169/1 based on his very average efforts in Australia thus far and he's yet to prove that he's much of a force on anything other than quick indoor hard and certain types of clay.
And Tomic is very short at 60.059/1 based on an exhibition win over Djokovic and a decent performance in an ATP 250 in Sydney this week. I'd be very surprised if he managed to get past Federer.
Tsonga will be pleased with his mini-section, which looks to be a straight fight between himself, Gasquet and Haas for a quarter final spot. On form you would look to Gasquet, but he's never been past the last-16 in Melbourne and still plays much too far back behind the baseline to trouble the very top players.
So, Murray will probably have to go through Del Potro and perhaps Federer to reach the final where he would almost certainly play Djokovic and that easier draw that the Serb has makes him a strong favourite and hard to oppose.
As he is quite short at 2.111/10 my play on this will be to back the winning double of Djokovic and Serena Williams, as it's equally hard to see the American being beaten in the women's singles.
For back ups, only really Berdych appeals at 85.084/1 but not massively and the possible alternatives to Ferrer are the only big prices that are worth considering.