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Australian Open 2018: Could we see new champions in both draws?

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The Australian Open begins on Monday and, with notable absentees in both draws, there are big prices available on promising players, says Max Liu...

"None of the top three in the betting - Svitolina, Simona Halep [9.8], Karolina Pliskova [10.0] - have ever won a Slam, although all are playing well at the moment. This is a great chance for one of the trio to break their Slam duck."

There's only three days to go until the first Grand Slam of the 2018 begins and the betting in the Australian Open women's draw is wide open.

Elina Svitolina [9.0] is the favourite. She arrives in Melbourne in good form, having just won a tournament in Brisbane.

But Svitolina's odds are still pretty long when you compare that to the men's draw where favourite Roger Federer is [3.0]. Federer is the defending champion and a five-time Aussie Open winner. There is nobody with that kind of record in the women's draw, as defending champion and seven time winner Serena Williams is missing the tournament.

None of the top three in the betting - Svitolina, Simona Halep [9.8], Karolina Pliskova [10.0] - have ever won a Slam, although all are playing well at the moment. This is a great chance for one of the trio to break their Slam duck.

Only fourth favourite, Angelique Kerber [13.0], knows what it's like to lift one of tennis's big prizes, as she triumphed in Melbourne in 2016.

Sharapova has a point to prove but is this Konta's big chance?

Maria Sharapova [16.0] will get plenty of attention, after re-entering the top 50 for the first time since her ban. The Russian has a point to prove and is a former-champion, having won in 2008.

Of course, British fans want know if this will be the year when Johanna Konta [25.0] takes a giant leap and wins her first Slam. If she's going to do it anywhere then Melbourbne is as likely a place as any, especially as Konta was born in Australia and reaches the semi-finals here two years ago.

Ninth seed Konta reached the semi-finals in Brisbane, although she was defeated in the first round in Sydney's warm-up event. She begins her Australian Open campaign against American Madison Brengle.

Can the new generation stop Federer?

As for the men, will Federer claim the title for a sixth time in Melbourne this month? Quite possibly. The Swiss lost only five matches in all of 2017, winning two Slams. The other two were won by Rafael Nadal, who's [6.4] second favourite to win what would be his second Australian Open in 2018.

Next in the betting comes Novak Djokovic [9.6]. He's been out injured since Wimbledon but the fact that's he's won here six times, including his first Slam back in 2008, means he cannot be ignored.

But what about further down the market? Grigor Dimitrov [12.0] is still looking for his first title, as is Alex Zverev [19.0] who won five titles in 2017. There will be plenty of home support for enigmatic Nick Krygios [18.0] who won in Brisbane last week and would love to win his first Slam here.


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