AO Men's Predictions

The 2017 Australian Open draw is out. To put some numbers to the prospects for the 128 players on each side of the draw who will make their bid for the title, Tennis Australia Game Insight Group has put together predictions for the tournament outcomes.

GIG predictions are based on player Elo ratings, a power rating system that incorporates a player’s career results, the difficulty of their opponents, and weighs more recent results more heavily. Our specific Elo method is very similar to the approaches used by TennisAbstract and FiveThirtyEight. One difference, which we have introduced this year, is to adjust for returning players. Our historical analyses suggest that even top players take time to regain their strength after coming back for a long break. So our ratings will be a bit more pessimistic for players like Serena Williams and Roger Federer than others.

This post presents our predictions for the men’s draw, which will update as rounds complete. In what follows, you will find a breakdown of predictions for the first round as well as simulated predictions for the tournament. Tomorrow, I will post the same set of predictions for the women’s draw.

So let’s get into it…

Top Contenders

The question that is probably on everyone’s mind is who has the better chances for the title: Sir Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic? Despite Murray dethroning Djokovic at the end of 2016, the loss to Djokovic in Brisbane and the bad luck of drawing Roger Federer in his quarter have made Djokovic. The Elo-based prediction is giving Djokovic a 51% chance of defending his title. Murray is number two at 25%. Now that might seem high given Djokovic’s struggles in 2016. BUt the reality is that his results were still strong and his start of the season make us optimistic about his odds.

The chances for other possible contenders drop off precipitously from there. Nishikori and Federer take the number 3 and 4 spots, each with chances around 4%. Milos Raonic, with no Majors yet to his name, comes it at number 5, edging out Aussie-hopeful Nick Kyrgios. We give Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic all around 1% probability of winning 7 straight for the title.

First Quarter

Looking over the first round matches in Murray’s quarter, there are several we can expect to be nail biters. With the upward trajectory Mischa Zverev has been on, we are favoring him for advancing, but, with only a 58% chance, it could be close. Ryan Harrison, who has often gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to slam draws, will have a fighting chance this time around when he faces off against Nicholas Mahut. We can also expect the Almagro-Chardy match to be a near toss up.

Second Quarter

Only two of the top 4 seeds has less than a 90% chance of a win in the first round, and one of them is Stan Wawrinka. The probability is against an upset, but, with an 85% chance of a win and an up-and-down record at slams, Wawrinka could be facing one of the tricky first round matches of the top seeds.

Australian Bernard Tomic could have a tough time getting past the first round, with just a 65% chance of defeating Thomaz Belluci. On the other hand, fellow countrymen Nick Kyrgios shouldn’t have any trouble getting thru the first match over Gastao Elias, especially as Elias will be coming off a disappointing loss to Dominic Thiem in Sydney.

We can also expect a fairly easy time for Jack Sock, Marin Cilic, and Jo Tsonga to advance.

Third Quarter

With Fritz, Coric, and Alexander Zverev all in Milos Raonic’s quarter we could call this the “Next Gen” quarter.

Young hopeful Borna Coric could be one of the stars of the first week if he is able to pull out a close match against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Although the odds are much more in youngster Alexander Zverev’s favor, Robin Haase’s years of experience on the tour could make this an interesting matchup. Fritz has the toughest task of the three, but with 1 in 6 odds over Gilles Muller, it is still worth tuning in.

Milos Raonic has the toughest first round match of the top 4, drawing hard-hitting German Dustin Brown. But Raonic should be going into the match with confidence after strong opening matches this year.

Fourth Quarter

Novak Djokovic might be the favorite for the title, but in the first round, expect a lot of eyes to be on Tommy Haas. After a long absence, 38 year-old Haas is returning to the tour. He will take on Benoit Paire and we are giving the hard-fighting Haas the odds of advancing to the next round.

Who will survive the Fognini-Lopez match is anyone’s guess, but one can be fairly certain that Fognini will make it entertaining. Aussie Jordan Thompson will also be a match worth seeing, as we are giving him 50-50 odds against Joao Sousa.

Although Djokovic has a high probability of winning his first round match against Fernando Verdasco, we all remember how Verdasco knocked Rafael Nadal out of the draw last year, reminding us all that improbable results aren’t impossible.

AO Tournament Predictions Per Round

Below are the full predictions for each round. These show the percentage chance that a player’s will best result will be the round shown. The last column is the chance of winning the AO title. Predictions will be updated on this site as rounds complete.

Stephanie Kovalchik avatar
About Stephanie Kovalchik
Blog Founder, Senior Data Scientist at the Game Insight Group at Tennis Australia, and researcher at the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University.
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