With Venus Williams already having pulled out of the 2012 Australian Open, a bigger disappointment has been the withdrawal of Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, one of the rising stars of the game, because of a back problem. Still, it is two weeks of wonderful tennis action to enjoy from Melbourne Park, as we dig into the first Grand Slam of the new season. It was Kim Clijsters who rolled out a win here last season, triumphing over Chinese star Na Li in the final. Here we take an in depth preview look at the tournament history, form and Australian Open tennis betting odds for the women’s draw. We saw four different Grand Slam winners last year, will we have another mixed bag in 2012? Will the experience of former champions Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams, who have had injuries worries ahead of the event stand tall? Will it be a Grand Slam breakthrough for the in form Victoria Azarenka, or world number one Caroline Wozniacki, or will Petra Kvitova live up to her billing as favourite? Plenty of tennis betting questions to be answered over the next couple of weeks.
Petra Kvitova: 11/4 at SportingBet
The number two seed for the Australian Open has a pretty strong shot at going all the way in Melbourne. The draw has been pretty kind to her, avoiding the real big guns in the bottom half of the draw. With the class and form that Kvitova has, it should be plain sailing through to the fourth round, and even at the quarter final stage, the highest ranked player she could meet is Australia’s Samantha Stosur. Stosur won the US Open, but you would still back an in form Kvitova over her nine times out of ten, and the draw makes the Czech star a very appealing prospect in 2012 Australian Open betting. She has the complete game, has the effortless power in her ground strokes and composure to back up her Wimbledon triumph last year with a second Grand Slam title. Fell in Sydney to Na Li in the semi finals after opening up a big lead. She slumped badly after winning Wimbledon but bounced back and looks to have timed her preparations just right for the Slam.
Best Finish: Quarter Finals 2011
Tournament Rerecord: 5-3
Current Form: 2-1
Serena Williams: 4/1 at Bet365
Like Kvitova, Williams will be happy with the draw, going off in the bottom half. Williams is seeded only 12th for Melbourne this year, but you cannot deny the presence she brings. She has won the title in Melbourne five times before and has to be counted as a real threat. She has had her fitness problems before easing her way back into the game last year, but she did miss out on a show at the Australian Open last year. She was still good enough to pick up a couple of Tour titles and then reach the final of the US Open, beating Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki along the way. The big advantage of course is the power game. Williams is probably still more beatable at this stage of her career and after dropping out of Brisbane a couple of weeks ago after rolling her ankle there have been question marks, but her presence will be one that other players will still want to avoid. She has admitted that she is being hampered by her ankle problem, and that it will be her will carrying her through. Is that mind games? She has court presence and of course is a proven Grand Slam champion time and time again. Which is more than can be said for other contenders.
Best Finish: Winner 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010
Tournament Rerecord: 51-6
Current Form: 2-0 (plus one retire)
Victoria Azarenka: 6/1 at Totesport
The world number three was the back story of Sydney last week, where the big headline was the world number one showdown between Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova. With both of them failing to make the final, it was the powerful Azarenka who fought off defending champion Na Li in the final to lift her first title of the season. The questions marks over her consistency and temperament have always been there, but she pretty much came into her own towards the back end of last year. She is a much calmer player, and is channelling her fire and passion into her shots. She is one of the heaviest hitters of ground strokes in the game, very brave, but blew seriously big chances in promising Grand Slam positions last year. Will this be the breakthrough year for her? Should really be at the semi final stage because she has a great draw. The top seed she can meet in the quarter finals is Agnieszka Radwanska, so there should be another big opportunity for her here. Belarusian Azarenka starts off against Britain’s Heather Watson in the first round.
Best Finish: Quarter Finals 2010
Tournament Rerecord: 14-6
Current Form: 5-0 (won Sydney)
Kim Clijsters: 10/1 at Totesport
It looks pretty certain that Kim Clijsters will be fit and ready to go in defence of her Australian Open title. The Belgian star pulled out of Brisbane recently with a hip problem. After having her season disrupted last season with injury it wasn’t a great start to the season for Clijsters. The hip problem will, more than likely hamper her progress at some point, because if she is not 100% then the hard toiling of trying to win a Grand Slam is likely to catch up with her at some point. Clijsters had a rescheduled practice during the week, although that was played down as simply being a change of plans and nothing to do with her injury. She really should have more Grand Slam titles under her belt, she is one of the best players to watch for composure, creating time and landing shots of perfection. There is doubts over whether she is 100% although she claims to be ready and willing to take on the challenge. If there were no doubts over her fitness she would be outright favourite. Seeded eleventh for the Australian Open, means that she may likely have to face last year’s defeated finalist Na Li and Caroline Wozniacki along the way to the semi finals. She could meet up with Na in the fourth round, Wozniacki in the quarter finals and then probably Azarenka in the semi finals. A long way to go with carrying an injury.
Best Finish: Winner 2011
Tournament Rerecord: 38-8
Current Form: 3-1 (plus one retire)
The Chasing Pack
Li Na, who lost last year’s final against Kim Clijsters, has a great record on Australian soil. She has won the last 20 out of 23 matches Down Under and she looks to have come out firing. She is such a powerful hitter and such a grinder that she will cause problems throughout the tournament. Biggest threat to Victoria Azarenka’s run at the final. A decent shot, but you are always feeling that she is punching above her weight, but one of the prime suspects when backing an upset of a top player. Caroline Wozniacki picked up a wrist injury in Sydney last week which threatened to exclude her from the tournament altogether. She is entered though and is number one seed. She is not in any great form though, and in fact looked altogether tired physically and mentally at the end of last year. The Grand Slam title eludes her still, and it’s likely still to be after Melbourne. Maria Sharapova we haven’t seen this season yet, but looking a little out of sorts at the season ender at the WTA Championships last year, the Russian may well have missed her best chance at another Grand Slam last year. She was in the best form she has been in for years during 2011 and couldn’t get over the line. With the return of Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters to fitness throughout the year, the Grand Slam titles will be harder to come by. Still, she will go in fresh after picking up her training this week. Could be one of the greatest dark horse bets to back in Australian Open tennis betting. A fighter, has won the Australian Open before, and maybe, just maybe her final appearance at Wimbledon last year will spur on her belief that she has more in her. Not the easiest of draws for her, could have to go through Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sabine Lisicki and Serena Williams to make an impact. We will suggest a look at Marion Bartoli who is playing some of the best tennis of her career. Had a great year last season, and starting the year fresh and even bubblier than she normally is, will carry a threat.
The Outside Shots
Sam Stosur, the home town favourite really is too unpredictable to back strongly. Svetlana Kuznetsova will be an awkward threat, but seeing her go all the way in a tournament which may be one or two rounds beyond her is not likely. Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi pulled out one of the best entire tournament performances in Auckland recently. Full of power, confidence and sheer brilliance. Hopefully this is her bounce back year after failing to push forward much last season. So too Flavia Pennetta who oozes class, but lacks finishing power at the worst times. Sabine Lisicki will thrill the crowds and entertain, and with the solid ability of a top ten player will serve up power and a treat. Not the durability to go all the way, same as Vera Zvonareva who really seems to have lost her way in the game.
The British Contingent
Britain’s number one Elena Baltacha starts her campaign in 2012 Australian Open betting against Stephanie Foretz Gacon, and the reward of winning that would be a second round match up against none other than Kim Clijsters. Anne Keothavong will have a tough battle against Mona Barthel from Germany in the first round. Youngster Heather Watson has a wonderful first round experience against Victoria Azarenka, while Laura Robson is one step away from qualifying for the main draw.
2012 Australian Open Tennis Betting Odds
Petra Kvitova: 11/4 at Stan James
Serena Williams: 4/1 at Bet365
Victoria Azarenka: 6/1 at Totesport
Kim Clijsters: 10/1 at BetFred
Li Na: 12/1 at SportingBet
Caroline Wozniacki: 20/1 at VC Bet
Sam Stosur: 22/1 at VC Bet
Agnieszka Radwanska: 22/1 at Bwin
Kaia Kanepi: 25/1 at Bet365
Maria Sharapova: 25/1 at Paddy Power
Marion Bartoli and others: 50/1 at Totesport
2012 Australian Open Tennis Betting Tips
Would look for the form and power of Victoria Azarenka to break through. It is a tricky call this year with the injury questions over Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, so the sensible betting heads would avoid them to start with. That leaves Petra Kvitova who is the one with all the expectations on her shoulders. Would look for those too therefore, and also good runs for Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova. Kaia Kanepi, if she turns up with the form she carried from the early season, and the focus, could cause some damage.
Will be worth looking at online bookmaker Victor Chandler for your 2012 Australian Open Tennis betting. The highly popular online bookmaker runs a superb tennis betting promotion for the main draw of all ATP and WTA events. Back a player in match betting, and if your selection loses the match in a final set tie break, then the bookie will refund your lost stake as a free bet. So pretty good coverage there if your selection misses out on match success at the very death. Victor Chandler offer a free £25 bet for new customers registering an account. The bookie will match the value of your first stake on a new account with a free bet, up to the maximum value of £25.