World number one Novak Djokovic says he will be returning to Melbourne Park to defend his Australian Open crown, following doubts about his participation.
The Serb legend of the game can be backed at 5/4 to win his tenth title Down Under at as he seeks to break yet another record in his illustrious career.
He, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal are all locked on 20 career Grand Slam singles titles, and with Federer not participating in the upcoming event and injuries slowing Nadal down, the 34-year-old has the chance to write his name in the record books.
He pulled out of the ATP Cup in Sydney where he would have represented his country and that led to speculation over whether he would be playing.
However, those doubts have now vanished as the tournament gets under way on January 17th.
2021 was another wonderful year in the career of Djokovic after he won three of the four Grand Slam events.
He defeated Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets back in January, before winning the French Open for just the second time in his career, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas after coming from two sets down.
Djokovic made it a hat-trick at the All England Club when he beat the Italian Matteo Berrettini.
His consistency and ability to win under pressure is remarkable and he enters the tournament as the man to beat, despite plenty of talent elsewhere.
Of the "Big Three" Nadal is the least successful in the Australian Open, winning his only title way back in 2009, and he is priced at 12/1 to double his tally.
The last 12 months have seen the Spaniard dogged by fitness problems and his 2021 season was cut short as a result.
He suffered only his third ever Paris reverse when losing the French Open semi-final to Djokovic and pulled out of Wimbledon and the Olympics, citing the busy schedule as his reason.
Then, in August, he made the decision to end his 32021 season - pulling out of the US Open in the process - because of an injury to his left foot.
Nadal's aim was to come back and play in the Australian Open and that has come to fruition but it will still take a Herculean effort to dethrone Djokovic.
|Player||Number of titles|
|Novak Djokovic||9 (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 2021)|
|Roy Emerson||6 (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)|
|Roger Federer||6 (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)|
|Jack Crawford||4 (1931, 1932, 1933, 1935)|
|Ken Rosewall||4 (1953, 1955, 1971, 1972)|
|Andre Agassi||4 (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003)|
With Djokovic such a heavy favourite, it is easy to look beyond the other contenders but there are plenty who could run him close.
Russian Medvedev got to the final last year but was unsuccessful in losing to the Serb in straight sets and he can be backed at 5/2 to right those wrongs.
He comes into the tournament having won the previous Grand Slam event in October when defeating Djokovic in the US Open, so he definitely has pedigree when it comes to those big matches.
Elsewhere, world number three Alexander Zverev will be hoping to break his Grand Slam duck in Melbourne with a US Open final in 202 his closest effort to date.
The German won singles gold at the Tokyo Olympics and his best attempt at the Australian Open was a semi-final in 2020 where he was knocked out by Dominic Thiem.
He is 10/3 to claim his first Grand Slam title and add his name to the list of greats.