The draw for the 2020 Australian Open is out! What are the chances among the Big 3 for the first Grand Slam of the year? And is anyone else a strong prospect this year?
The Australian Open will get underway in a few days. On the men’s side, everyone will be wondering who of the Big 3 will get their first to get a Grand Slam title of the 2020s. Based on my player ratings, the chances are best for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Djokovic having a slight edge after his strong performance at the ATP Cup.
With Djokovic close to a 1 in 3 and Nadal closer to a 1 in 4 chance at the title, a Djokovic-Nadal final is the most probable. Many tennis fans who enjoyed the second set of their meeting at the ATP Cup would certainly wish for more of the same in Melbourne.
Roger Federer lands in the 3rd spot, which won’t come as a surprise to most. But it might be surprising that the gap between Federer and Nadal/Djokovic is as large as it is, both having more than double the odds of Federer for the title. Federer’s current player rating is only partly to blame. Being in Djokovic’s half of the draw and getting tricky young players like Filip Krajinovic, Hubert Hurkacz, Denis Shapovalov, Matteo Berrettini in the way of a title run makes his draw an especially challenging one.
The odds for the rest of the field drop off steeply when we go beyond the Big 3. But we can’t ignore the chances for a group of up-and-coming players who made big moves in 2019. The top of the list is Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who are the two players without a slam title that are most likely to knock one of the Big 3 off their thrown.
We can also see from the top title picks that several other young stars can’t be counted out of an incredible result in Melbourne in 2020. From top to bottom, these are Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov, and Matteo Berrettini. Although Dominic Thiem and Roberto Bautista Agut are also in the mix, I think the younger ages of the other maiden-slam prospects in this list gives them an edge.
|Roberto Bautista Agut||1.2|
While Djokovic and Nadal have a combined chance of nearly 1 in 2 for another Australian Open title, it is incredible that these odds are actually low compared to where they were last year. And it isn’t because their form has fallen off so much as others have raised their level, quite dramatically in a number of cases.
We can see this in the chart of the ratings of the top 10 prospects from this time last year until now. The thing that stands out most starkly is the incredible surge of the youngest players outside of the Big 3, the majority of whom have gained 100 points or more over the past year.
If momentum does exist, this chart would suggest we should have even higher expectations for Medvedev, Shapovalov, Berrettini and Rublev than their title prediction would suggest. These are the players that have seen the most improvement on hard courts in 2019 among the top 10. Tsitsipas has also improved, of course, it is just his rise has been more steady and this makes him unusually compared to the other Next Gen in this group.
Despite being at a combined age of 105 years, the Big 3 continue to defy belief and remain at the top of men’s tennis. They are, again, the best bets for the AO title but this is the first Major in some time where someone’s chance at their first slam title is more than a remote possibility.