Novak Djokovic‘s victory over Andy Murray in the final of the Australian Open, the Serb’s third straight win in Melbourne, has more or less confirmed what many already suspected – there’s a new world order in men’s tennis.
Djokovic and Murray now appear a step further up the ladder than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, and the Spaniard is going to have to prove himself all over again after his latest injury. Incredibly, Nadal is still market leader for the French Open in May (Skybet‘s 6/5 being the best price on offer) but there are real concerns that his era of clay-court domination may be about to come to an end. It’s seven months since the seven-times French Open winner saw meaningful action (he’s recently been demoted from the top four in the rankings) and advisors are suggesting that he might only play the Grand Slams from now on. That suggests recent knee surgery wasn’t a total success and, even if he turns up at Roland Garros, things have moved on since the Majorcan last played and his style of play will always leave him open to further injury. Of course, clay is not the favourite surface of either Djokovic or Murray (and Federer’s only win in the French Open came in 2009 when Nadal was injured) but the former did make the final in Paris last year and is eyeing up a clean sweep on Grand Slams this year.
Using an outdated and probably politically incorrect simile, I don’t believe that there’s much more than a cigarette paper between Djokovic and Murray nowadays however. The Scot undoubtedly wasn’t helped in the Melbourne final by the fact that he’d had a hard-fought five-set semi-final against Federer just 48 hours earlier. Djokovic had had an extra day’s rest after breezing past David Ferrer in his semi-final and that was enough to tip the balance in the final. I’d expect the hard-hitting base-liner Ferrer to be a much bigger danger in Paris (he is 22/1 with Boylesports) while local favourites Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (85/1 on Betfair) and Gilles Simon (500/1 with Ladbrokes) will both be expected to progress to the latter rounds. But the slow surface will work against big-servers Juan Martin del Potro (a general 16/1), Tomas Berdych (80/1 on Betfair) and Milos Raonic (125/1 with Coral).
Djokovic is 4/9 with Betfred and Coral to remain world number one at the end of the year with Betfred and Coral while Andy Murray is 5/2 with the latter. Last year’s US Open champion is Evens to win another Grand Slam in 2013 with Stan James.