by Bob Stockton
Women’s tennis is a joy to watch at the minute. The top 10 is jam-packed with fantastic young professionals, in fact the average age of the top ranked females is just 25.3, proving just how exciting the future of the game truly is. However, no one has really taken the WTA Tour by the scruff of the neck in terms of scooping up Grand Slams galore like Serena Williams once did, meaning that the field is wide open when one of the big four major tournaments comes around.
That is once again the case for the upcoming first Grand Slam of the year. There is little separating the big names in women’s tennis in the latest Australian Open odds, and given the fact that nobody at the top of the game has truly been able to put together a run of successive titles, picking a winner really is a stab in the dark.
But, without further ado, let’s take a look at the favourites to lift this year’s Australian Open crown. Read on to find out more!
Naomi Osaka – 7/1
Japanese star Naomi Osaka will be aiming for her fourth Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park next month. The current World No. 3 stunned Serena Williams in straight sets at Flushing Meadows to win the 2018 US Open, and she followed that up with an Australian Open triumph over Petra Kvitová in 2019. In last year’s Down Under-based Grand Slam she was dealt a shock of her own when then 15-year-old Coco Gauff ended her title defence in the third round. But she bounced back later in the year by winning the US Open, and that recent Grand Slam victory gives her the favourite status heading into Melbourne.
Ashleigh Barty – 8/1
Due to concerns for her safety surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic, it has been almost a year since we last saw Aussie Ashleigh Barty take to the court. In fact, her last appearance was at the Australian Open, where she was knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual winner Sofia Kenin. Despite her 11-month hiatus, Barty, who also kept her World No. 1 status, is the second favourite heading into the tournament. With the Grand Slam taking place in her own backyard, there is a lot of pressure on the 24-year-old to win the Australian Open and add to her sole French Open triumph, but could this be the year?
Bianca Andreescu – 17/2
20-year-old Bianca Andreescu had a great year in 2019. She qualified for the Australian, French and US Opens for the first time, even going on to win the latter – beating Williams in straight sets in New York. However, last year her season was plagued with a knee injury that she picked up in the 2019 ATP Finals, and as a result she missed all three of the Grand Slams. The good news is that she has now fully recovered, and it will be great to see the World No. 7 get her career back underway at Melbourne Park, maybe even adding a second Grand Slam to her trophy cabinet.
Serena Williams – 9/1
There’s no doubt that at 39 years of age, Williams is now in the autumn of her career, and the recent upsets, some of which we have mentioned above, could be a good indication that her best days are unfortunately behind her. The 23-time Grand Slam winner didn’t have much to rave about in 2020. She was shown the exit door early in the Australian and French Opens, but her run to the semi-finals of the US Open could be proof that she still has a Grand Slam or two in her locker.
Simona Halep – 9/1
World No. 2 Simona Halep will be hoping to get back into Grand Slam-winning ways in 2021, and what better way to start than with her inaugural Aussie Open. The 29-year-old Romanian won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, but with the English Grand Slam cancelled due to the pandemic she was unable to defend her title, whilst she opted not to take part in the US Open. That left just the Australian and French Opens. She will have been disappointed to have been knocked out of last year’s Melbourne-based tournament by Garbiñe Muguruza in the semi-finals, but even more so with her performance in the French Open, where she was beaten by 19-year-old Iga Świątek in the fourth round – even if the young Polish professional did go on to win the tournament.