By Britwatch Team

  • Australian Open predictions
  • The Britwatch tennis panel dig into the Champions, early exits, dark horses and the Brits for the first Grand Slam of the year.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA- With the Australian Open right around the corner, the Britwatch Tennis team give you their predictions for the first Grand Slam of the season.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Ros Phil Niall Naomi Glenys
Champion (M) Murray Djokovic Djokovic Djokovic Murray
Champion (W) Halep Serena Serena Serena Serena
Dark Horse (M) Nishikori Raonic Raonic Raonic Tsonga
Dark Horse (W) Azarenka Kuznetsova Azarenka Azarenka Radwanska
Early Exit (M) Nadal Fognini Nishikori Tomic Lopez
Early Exit (W) Ivanovic Halep Muguruza Ivanovic Ivanovic

 

Ros Phil Niall Naomi Glenys
Murray Winner Quarter-final Semi-final Final Winner
Bedene Round 3 Round 1 Round 3 Round 1 Round 1
Edmund Round 2 Round 2 Round 2 Round 3 Round 2
Evans Round 1 Round 1 Round 1 Round 1 Round 3
Konta Round 1 Round 1 Round 1 Round 1 Round 1
Watson Round 2 Round 2 Round 2 Round 2 Round 3

 

Ros Satar

Men’s Champion: Andy Murray

If there is ever a time for the Brit to stake his claim in a Slam he enjoys playing in, and has reached the final of four out of the last five years, it is now. Playing as consistently as he ever has with admittedly a few blips here and there, and coasting along on the wave of GB’s Davis Cup victory, the time is now for Murray to strike.

Of course his main opposition in the ‘Happy Slam’ could well be Novak Djokovic who will come into 2016 with a truly dominant year to defend. Of course the impending arrival of Murray junior could well intervene, but this is a Slam he could and sometime should win.

Women’s Champion: Simona Halep

Time to shake things up a little. Halep really impressed me with her talking the talk this year but it is really time to walk the walk. The first time I encountered the scrappy Romanian she was like a bunny in the headlights in the Stuttgart All Access sessions with the media – this year a far more accomplished figure in front of the press. She even had all the answers when she suffered some surprising losses.

But now the time is ripe to get those results in and she needs a fast and confident start in 2016. So let’s kick things off with a Slam title!

Dark Horse (M): Kei Nishikori

He’s probably not much of a dark horse as the seventh seed, but he still remains the only one of the chasing pack likely to spring a surprise. His exit in Brisbane was a surprise, but this could be his time to shine, although he will need to play the potential quarter of his life to get past Djokovic

Dark Horse (W): Victoria Azarenka

The former two-time champion looked mighty impressive in Brisbane and might just be back on the way to her best. This place gives her positive vibes and I see her making a final run.

Early Exit (M): Rafael Nadal

Fernando Verdasco may not be people’s first choice to deliver the upset but he as upended his compatriot before. Even if he comes through the first round ok I don’t see Nadal as a contender in the very late stages.

Early Exit (W): Ana Ivanovic

Dear oh dear, Ana has not started well, and while she will probably get past the wildcard in her opener, Aussie Jarmila Wolfe could use the crowd to her advantage and send Ivanovic off early.

The Brits:

Andy Murray – Title: I still think he could do it, but it will be an exhausting and gruelling path to the title that has eluded him four times so far. Fifth time’s the charm (so long as he doesn’t have to rush home for the birth of his first child).

Aljaz Bedene – R3: Draws 31st seed Steve Johnson in the opening round but this could well be winnable for the Brit if he is fit. However with a potential third round encounter with David Ferrer, that is where he will stop.

Kyle Edmund – R2: He starts with a close match-up against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur and could well have the momentum to win, but a potential match up against David Goffin in the second round could be tough. This time the Belgian will know that Edmund could tire at the end of a five-setter and just patiently wait it out.

Dan Evans – R1: It was a monumental effort from Evans to get this far, but Feliciano Lopez has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence of late. Round one in a Slam to start the year off should hopefully kick Evans on to working his way back up the rankings.

Johanna Konta – R1: Oh this is a heart-breaking draw for the British number one. She acquitted herself well against the elder Williams in the Wuhan quarter-final at the end of her fantastic late summer run, forcing Williams to three sets, and despite a shaky start in Auckland for the American, she will bring her best to the Slams.

Heather Watson R2: It is definitely a winnable first round match up for Watson against Hungary’s Timea Babos, but she comes up next against 12th seed Belinda Bencic. That just might be a power-hitter too far and Watson may have to wait a while to surpass her best showing of the third round Down Under.

 

Phil James

Men’s Champion: Novak Djokovic

So I’ve picked Djokovic for both the last two Slams and it feels like there was never any doubt that he would prove me right. This time round, I’m less confident, and came very close to putting Andy Murray’s name on the trophy – making him a three time Grand Slam winner as he also becomes a first time father.

Murray has a good draw, with the only real hurdle between him and the final, a potential semi against Wawrinka or Nadal. Andy showed in the Davis Cup how good he was when he really focused on a prize. But he also showed at the ATP World Tour Finals that if his mind is elsewhere, he is vulnerable. And that’s ignoring the fact that Andy may take himself out of the running if Kim goes into labour.

So my actual pick, the winner of the likely Djokovic-Federer semi-final, and I just can’t see Federer getting over that hump.

Women’s Champion: Serena Williams

It’s a braver man than me that picks against Serena in a slam…

Dark horse (M): Milos Raonic

If he can get past Wawrinka in the fourth round, this could be the big serving Canadian’s first Grand Slam final.

Dark Horse (W): Svetlana Kuznetsova

Anyone other than Serena is a dark horse in my book, but I think Svetlana Kuznetsova has a good chance of going far if she continues her good form from last week in Sydney.

Early Exit (M): Fabio Fognini

Given his quarter of the draw and Murray’s potential withdrawal, Fognini could go far. But up first is the big serving doubles expert Gilles Muller who could cause an upset.

Early Exit (W): Simona Halep

Could face an in-form Alize Cornet in round two (and my usual pick of Eugenie Bouchard is showing signs of a pick-up in form).

The Brits:

Andy Murray – Quarter-final

Aljaz Bedene – Round 1

Kyle Edmund – Round 2

Dan Evans – Round 1

Heather Watson – Round 2

Johanna Konta – Round 1

I like Murray to get to the final if not for the baby distraction, and so I’m predicting a distracted loss or labour-induced withdrawal from the British number one. Both Aljaz Bedene and Dan Evans drew seeds in the first round, Steve Johnson and Feliciano Lopez respectively. I think either one of them could cause an upset, but I think both will fall just short, possibly in a five-setter. Edmund hopefully will continue his good form before falling to David Goffin in round two, a more straight forward victory for the Belgian than we saw in the Davis Cup final.

Though Johanna Konta is now the higher ranked player, I think Heather Watson has the better chance in Melbourne. Konta showed excellent form at the back end of 2015 but has not carried that over into 2016 thus far, and is up against Venus Williams in round one. Though not the power house she once was, I think Williams will have enough power, experience and fight to win through. Watson was looking good in Hobart last week until her quarterfinal loss. I’d predict a deeper run for Watson if not for her likely round two opponent Belinda Bencic.

 

 

Niall Clarke

Men’s Champion: Novak Djokovic

Nobody is on the same level as the world number one at the present time. Djokovic is the dominant force on the ATP tour and expect that to continue. Barring a big performance by the likes of Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka or Andy Murray, it is almost impossible to see the defending champion lose here. The Australian Open is his best slam and he is the best player, Djokovic to win

Women’s Champion: Serena Williams

Keen to get herself back on track after the shock US Open defeat, Serena will start the season with victory at the Australian Open, tying Steff Graf in the process. Her main rival will be whoever meets her in he final, could be Azarenka, Halep or Muguruza. Either way I see the champion defending her title.

Dark Horse (M): Milos Raonic

The Canadian was impressive in his title win at Brisbane where he defeated Federer in straight sets. Raonic’s serve has always been amongst the elite but his overall game is improving all the time. With the right form he can do serious damage here.

Dark Horse (W): Victoria Azarenka

I am not sure you can call Azarenka a dark horse but given her seeding it seems like the best position to place her. The former two time Australian Open champion showed she is close to returning to her best form in Brisbane and she loves these courts. The Belarusian can go all the way to the title if she brings her Brisbane form into Melbourne.

Early Exit (M): Kei Nishikori

The Japanese star is also a contender for dark horse, but he has been drawn against a dangerous player in Phillip Kohlschreiber in the opening round. The German is certainly more than capable of an upset and I predict we might just get it.

Early Exit (W): Garbine Muguruza

The Spaniard could go all the way, but when looking at the draw there is a potential banana skin in round three. Caroline Garcia is a player who is capable of beating anyone on her day, and match-up wise she could give Muguruza a lot of problems. The third seed has struggled with power players in the past and if Garcia is in good form, there is a potential upset on the cards.

The Brits:

Andy Murray- Semi Finals: The British number one has a fairly comfortable road to the semi finals with David Ferrer in his quarter. From there it will be likely Wawrinka, Nadal or Raonic and it is where his tournament will end. If either of the former two make the semi finals, it means they are in good form. The Swiss has won his past three meetings with Murray in straight sets whilst Nadal dominated him in their last meeting. That is not to say Murray does not stand a chance, but with a child on the way his mind might be elsewhere.

Aljaz Bedene– R3: The British number two has drawn 31st seed Steve Johnson of the USA in round one- it could be worse. Bedene is a solid player and he can take the American if playing well. Thomaz Bellucci or Jordan Thompson in round two is actually on paper a less complicated task. Round three is where his run will likely end against David Ferrer.

Kyle Edmund- R2: Edmund’s first main raw appearance in Melbourne has been met with a fairly nice round one draw against Dzumhur. The Bosnian is not an easy player to face but it is a winnable match for the Brit. Round two will be tougher against Goffin but Edmund proved in the Davis Cup he has the tools to defeat him. The safer money however is on a round two exit.

Dan Evans- R1: Evans did well to qualify for the main draw but he has drawn a seeded player in Felicano Lopez. The man from Birmingham can test the Spaniard but it is likely he will exit the first round. Still a good effort from him to qualify however.

Johanna Konta– R1: Unless Konta can find her summer 2015 form, she will lose in the opening round to Venus Williams. Venus has been on a resurgence and has secured an eighth seed here. It is likely she will be too powerful and experienced for the Brit.

Heather Watson- R2: Babos in the opening round is fairly tricky but it is a test she should pass. Belinda Bencic in round two is where he tournament is likely to end however. The Swiss is overall the superior player and it would be an upset if Watson could pull out a win.

 

Naomi Cavaday

Men’s champion: Novak Djokovic

This tournament always inspires Djokovic to be at his best and after his performance in London I can’t see how this year is going to be any different. His physicality is his strength and after a rest and pre season training no one will be able to beat him in the best of 5. Andy will be the runner up but it will set up a good season for him.

Women’s champion: Serena Williams

Not much to say really. Serena is the best by a long way and if she is playing at 70% or more of her capabilities she will have this one wrapped up comfortably.

Dark Horse (M): Milos Raonic

Dark Horse (W): Victoria Azarenka

Early Exit (M): Bernard Tomic

Early Exit (W): Ana Ivanovic

The Brits:

Andy Murray– Final: On paper Murray has the best possible draw so I am convinced he will make the final but yet again be thwarted by Djokovic. The toughest match for Andy will most likley be his Semi final which will be the winner of a brutal last 16 encounter between Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic. I don’t see many other threats in Andy’s section.

Alijaz Bedene– R1: It is a deceptively tough draw for Bedene against Steve Johnson and I would have to put my money on the American for this one. However, Johnson has only had one match going in to the Open so you never know and it could be a close one.

Kyle Edmund– R3: After a great year last year I have high expectations for Edmund’s 2016. He kicks off with a tough but manageable draw in Melbourne and I would not be surprised if this ends up being his best Slam to date. My call is he will beat Dzumhur, get his revenge on Goffin (he should bring his mini Davis Cup trophy along as a mascot), win an epic five setter against Thiem and lose to Federer. Ok, maybe I am getting one step ahead of myself and he won’t beat Thiem. It will be a good match though and probably lose it in five.

Dan Evans– R1: A good job qualifying but he will lose to a much more experienced Lopez.

Johanna Konta– R1: am so gutted that she has such a tough draw! Unfortunately I see her crashing out to Venus in the first round, but I am looking forward to watching what could be one of the best first round matches of the tournament.

Heather Watson– R2: Not the best but not the worst for Watson here. After beating Babos comfortably she will lose to the mighty force which is Bencic in the second round.

 

Glenys Furness

Men’s champion: Andy Murray

Murray has been close before with only Djokovic in his way in last year’s final. He will likely faceDjokovic again in the final, but with the Davis Cup win behind him the focus is now on the first slam of the year. If he can get a good run at Djokovic and take the first set Murray will take this one.

Women’s Champion: Serena Williams

Hard to see past anyone other than the world number one in this. The Australian Open will be a good place for Williams to start her 2016 quest. Having had a good period of time off at the end of the season Williams will be fresh and raring to go.

Dark Horse (M): Jo Wilfried Tsonga

For my Dark Horse I’m going with Tsonga. A good run here and some luck in the draw and the Frenchman could win his maiden slam. Tsonga performs very well on clay, and although this is a hard court, the confidence he will have gained from his season last year, reaching the later stages of the French Open and his overall performances, should stand him in good stead if the luck is on his side.

Dark Horse (W): Agnieszka Radwanska

Radwanska, she is getting close to Slam potential and there is no reason why it won’t be here. Getting to the final will be a tough challenge but if she gets there I see her defeating whoever she plays there.

Early exit (M): Feliciano Lopez

Lopez loses to Evans in first round.

The Brits:

Andy MurrayChampion: He will do it this time.

Aljaz Bedene– Round 1: First Round Loses to Steve Johnson.

Kyle Edmund– Round 2: Second Round loses to David Goffin.

Dan Evans– Round 3: I am going with an upset of Lopez by Evans, and then he takes the next match before losing in the third round.

Johanna Konta– Round 1: Unfortunately I don’t see her defeating Venus Williams in round one.

Heather Watson– Round 3: Her first round is winnable and from there it depends who she faces, but I believe she can get to at least round three.

The Australian Open kicks off at 0:00 GMT Monday morning

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