Novak Djokovic may be considering retirement so he can spend more time with his children but he’s still the daddy whenever he steps onto a tennis court and he’s the hot favourite to win the Australian Open for an 11th time.
The world No.1 admits he is divided over the thought of calling time on an incredible career and in reality it is unlikely to happen while he chases another grand-slam singles title to take his remarkable tally to 25 – one clear of the record he shares with Margaret Court.
Djokovic is already two clear of Rafael Nadal, who misses Melbourne with a hip injury which may force him to call it a day after his beloved French Open in May, and he’s coming off a season in which he ruled the roost.
The Serbian won three grand-slam titles and was only denied a clean sweep and an eighth Wimbledon triumph by a remarkable performance from Carlos Alcaraz on Centre Court. Even then it took five high-octane sets for the young pretender to beat the old warrior.
Reigning champion Djokovic heads to Melbourne with concerns about a wrist injury which no doubt hindered him as he lost to Alex de Minaur, who has climbed into the top ten in the rankings and is a dark horse for to win the first slam of the year.
The 24-year-old Australian is worth an each-way flutter at a whopping 120/1 with Unibet and BetUK as he has just beaten Alcaraz in straight sets in a charity match after toppling Taylor Fritz, Alexander Zverev and Djokovic in the United Cup.
But top seed Nole remains the man they have to beat and should glide through the first two rounds, whoever the opponent, giving his injury time to heal.
He’s tough, determined and ready to run through brick walls to succeed and is 11/10 to triumph with Ladbrokes, Coral, bet365 and Bet Victor.
Iga Swiatek is the 5/2 favourite with William Hill to lift the women’s trophy but although the brilliant 22-year-old from Poland has won four grand slams she has never advanced beyond the semi-finals in Australia.
Coco Gauff is 7/1 with William Hill after a successful defence of her title in Auckland at the weekend and last year’s US Open champion and French Open finalist will fear no one. The 19-year-old American represents the better value.
• Russell Henley loves playing at the Sony Open in Honolulu and lost a play-off for the trophy just two years ago. An average of just under 66 over his last dozen rounds at Waialae makes him each-way gold at 18/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral. Also go e/w with Matt Fitzpatrick, tied fourth at The Sentry on Sunday, at 18/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair.
We’ll give Eric Cole another chance after his T14 last week, his worst finish in his last six starts, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral while our final each-way is Ludvig Aberg. The Scandinavian’s chances at The Sentry were done after a first round 77 but he finished with a 63, which included six birdies in the last seven holes for a round of ten under. He’s 14/1 with the same two firms.
• A dozen teams are in action in the NFL’s Super Wildcard Weekend as the playoffs commence. Pick of the bets is the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the banged-up Miami Dolphins by more than 4.5 points at evens with Ladbrokes, Coral, Sky Bet and bet365.
Put them in an acca with Buffalo to beat Pittsburgh by over a touchdown and Dallas to power past Green Bay by the same margin. The treble pays just over 5/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral.