The first grand slam tennis tournament of the 2021 tennis season gets underway in early February in Melbourne as the Australian Open begins on Feb. 8.
A strong contingent of American women will vie for a second consecutive U.S. winner. Last year, 22-year-old Sofia Kenin defeated Garbine Muguruza rallying from a set down to capture her first Grand Slam event title.
The U.S. has not won a men’s title since Andre Agassi captured the last of his four Australian Open crowns in 2003. No American male has even made it to the finals in Melbourne since Agassi’s victory. If you are looking to bet on Americans at the 2021 Australian Open, here are your best bets.
Australian Queen - Serena Williams
No woman has more Australian Open titles in the Open era than Serena Williams (7). She hasn’t won in Melbourne since 2017 and that Australian Open win was Williams’s last Grand Slam title as well. At 39 years of age, Williams is still ranked No. 11 in the world and is listed at +800 to win this year.
She lost in the third round of last year’s tournament and the second round of last year’s French Open in October. Williams made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September. This year’s Australian Open will be her first action of the 2021 season.
Kenin is listed at +1000 and is an up-and-coming star. After winning in Melbourne last year, Kenin went on to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open and she played for the French Open title losing to Iga Swiatek 6-1, 6-4.
Kenin is now ranked fourth in the world and is the best value bet among all American women. Unlike Williams, Kenin has played one tournament in 2021. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open in early January.
Of the remaining American women, Madison Keys is ranked 16th in the world and is listed at +2000 to win this year’s Australian Open. Coco Gauff, No. 48 in the world, is also given +2000 odds to win and 24th -ranked Jennifer Brady is listed at +2500.
On the Fritz
The highest-ranked American male tennis player in the world is 6-foot-10-inch John Isner who checks in at No. 25. Isner has decided to skip this year’s Australian Open due to COVID-19. That leaves 24-year-old Taylor Fritz as the highest-ranked (29th ) U.S. player in Melbourne this year.
Fritz is young, but he is the US’s top men’s tennis prospect. He advanced to the third round in each of the Australian, U.S., and French Opens last year. He is trending upward and given his odds to win this year - +40000 – he may be worth a small wager. A $20 bet on Fritz will pay out $8,000 should he pull the upset.
If not Fritz, you may consider the imposing 6-11 Reilly Opelka who is also listed at +40000. Opelka has not played yet in 2021, but had a solid 2020 season. He won his second tournament – the Delray Beach Open – last February. Opelka is 45-43 in career Grand Slam matches since turning pro in 2015.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.