Many top players capable of beating each other
While the outright market for the men's tournament is rather top-heavy, with an implied win percentage in excess of 80% for the top three in the rankings, as usual there's a rather different dynamic in the women's tour, which continues to be very competitive and features 20-30 leading players who are very capable of beating each other on any given day.
Barty a justified pre-draw favourite
Prior to tomorrow's draw, leading the way on the outrights is Ash Barty, whose 4.03/1 current price is still bigger than the top two men's favourites, adequately illustrating the open nature of this tournament by having a favourite who has an implied 25% chance of lifting the trophy in just over two weeks time.
Barty's status as favourite isn't a particular surprise. Not only does the Australian - of course playing in her home tournament - lead the tour for combined service/return points won percentage on hard court in the last year by some distance, but she's also started the season superbly, winning both singles and doubles on the opening week in Adelaide.
This was Barty's first tournament since the US Open last year, when she lost to Shelby Rogers in round three, and her four wins in Adelaide over four quality opponents - all ranked inside the top 25 - should fill her with confidence ahead of her home Grand Slam. She looks a deserved favourite, in my view.
Osaka looking to win third Australian Open title
My numbers also agree that Naomi Osaka 7.06/1 should be second favourite, and of course she's defending champion here at Melbourne Park after beating Jennifer Brady in the final in February last year. Osaka has also won here in 2019, and all four of her Grand Slam titles have been on hard court. Despite some off-court issues, anyone who under-rates Osaka looks to do so at their peril.
Swiatek among potential value in the next tier of players
Those two players are the only ones currently priced in single-digit pricing at the time of writing, and it's the next tier of players priced around 10.09/1 to 30.029/1 where I think there could be some value.
One player springing to mind here is Iga Swiatek. The Pole is sixth favourite in the market at 21.020/1, but I have her rated 3rd best based on 12 month hard court numbers, so the world number eight could well feature prominently in my outright market thoughts following tomorrow's draw. She picked up some decent wins in that tournament in Adelaide, eventually losing to winner Barty in the semi-final but pretty routinely beating both Victoria Azarenka and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez en route to that stage.
Several others worth keeping an eye on in tomorrow's draw
I'd also be interested in the draw for Barbora Krejcikova. The French Open winner is usually more renowned for her work on clay courts but reached the quarter-final of the US Open last year, and the final of Dubai 1000 as well on hard court. Her surface numbers are pretty good compared to the majority of the field and there could well be some value in the 29.028/1 about the Czech.
Those are several players I have in mind currently, but it wouldn't be surprising if I added to that list when I return on Friday with my post-draw thoughts. Amanda Anisimova, who won the Melbourne warm-up event recently, could be one to add to that list, and also Ons Jabeur who joins Krejcikova in the quarter-finals of the Sydney warm-up event tonight.
In a strange way, we might almost want to get those players defeated pretty quickly in Sydney, so they don't over-play and also so the market doesn't over-react on any success, but we shall see how the next few days play out first before making any decisions.
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