Johanna Konta's march to the semi-final in Melbourne last year was a surprise, but she must be treated as a serious contender this time around, according to Ralph Ellis...
"Konta performed impressively at this time last year when she reached the semi-final of the Australian Open, but the 2017 model looks leaner, fitter, stronger and better in every facet of the game. She is the 2.486/4 outsider to beat Agnieszka Radwanska in tomorrow’s Sydney final and that looks well worth backing."
I know that "legacy" is one of the buzzwords in sport right now, but there's little doubt that Andy Murray's rise to be number one in the world rankings has had a profound effect on British tennis.
I was going to call it a meteoric rise, but thinking about it, Murray's assault on the top has been anything but that. It has been a slow, painstaking climb. The hard way; the North face of the Eiger; Everest via the North-East ridge.
Yet oddly it has been that very facet of his success which has provided the inspiration for the likes of Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Marcus Willis to succeed. They have seen at close quarters how hard he works and tried to copy him.
And watching this morning as Johanna Konta wiped away Eugenie Bouchard in two sets to reach the final of the APIA International in Sydney it was impossible not to think that the influence has spread into the women's game too.
They were part of the same Olympics team in Rio last summer and you have to think that the work ethic has rubbed off.
Konta performed impressively at this time last year when she reached the semi-final of the Australian Open, but the 2017 model looks leaner, fitter, stronger and better in every facet of the game. She is the 2.486/4 outsider to beat Agnieszka Radwanska in tomorrow's Sydney final and that looks well worth backing.
Konta has gone through a significant change in the last couple of months and appears to be emerging stronger for it.
After suffering the shock of the sudden death of her mental coach Juan Coto, she then announced a split with Spanish coach Esteban Carril who had guided her two-year rise from 147 in June 2015 to the top 10 of the world rankings.
In his place has been appointed Wim Fissette, the Belgian who took Kim Clijsters to two US Open titles and the Australian Open, then helped Sabine Lisicki to a Wimbledon final and Simona Halep to be runner up at Roland Garros.
Konta will rise to a career high number nine in the new rankings when they are released on Monday, the first day of this year's Australian Open, and at 28.027/1 looks a fantastic value bet.
There's a sense that the tournament in Melbourne will be set up for a new name to emerge. Angelique Kerber, who in September ended the 186 week reign of Serena Williams as world number one, looks a big risk to back at 4.94/1 having gone out early in events in both Brisbane and Sydney.
Serena herself may be the 4.3100/30 favourite but you never know what to expect these days when her only public appearance before a Grand Slam is a dance workout to promote an underwear brand.
Meanwhile, at the age of 25, Konta seems to be coming absolutely to her peak, and looks far more comfortable dealing with pressure. She's hitting the ball hard, and has the power serve to be able to take on the top players.
I just checked and a £10 double on Murray to win the men's and Konta the women's would pay out £892.50 on the Sportsbook. Now that really would be a legacy!