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Australian Open: Favourite Barty hoping to make most of home advantage

All eyes will be on top seed and home talent Ashleigh Barty at this year's Australian Open as the two-time Grand Slam winner goes in search of her first Melbourne title.

Home crowd could make the difference

Barty is rated 3/1 to go all the way and will be determined in front of a home crowd to become the first Australian woman to win the event since 1978. You can follow the action via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Her game features plenty of variety and an accurate serve, while she also led the WTA tour with five titles in 2021 and secured the Wimbledon title last summer.

Barty warmed up nicely for the Australian Open with victory in the recent Adelaide International, dropping only one set on her way to the title triumph.

It is difficult to look past the 25-year-old in Melbourne but those looking to oppose her will highlight the draw as a potential stumbling block.

Osaka going for third Aussie crown

While Barty will start the tournament against a qualifier, she faces the prospect of a clash with Naomi Osaka as early as the fourth round.

Osaka thrives in Melbourne, having won the Australian Open in both 2019 and 2021.

The reigning champion's aggressive approach suits the hard courts down under and she is 13/2 to win the season's first Grand Slam.

She progressed to the last four of the 2022 Melbourne Summer Set One earlier this month but withdrew in the semi-finals as a precautionary measure.

Osaka nonetheless seems in good shape to go again in the Australian Open but of course missed a significant part of the 2021 campaign, withdrawing from the French Open last summer to tend to her mental health.

Muguruza determined to go one better

Third seed Garbine Muguruza is also high in the betting at 14/1 and is a former Australian finalist, having fallen at the final hurdle against American Sofia Kenin in 2020.

She went all the way at the WTA Finals back in November, defeating Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who is 14/1 to win the Australian Open, in the final of that tournament.

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Her performance at the Sydney International, however, was less inspiring as she was undone in straight sets by unseeded Russian Daria Kasatkina.

And youngster Iga Swiatek will also be looking to make an impression.

The 20-year-old Pole, who is the youngest player in the top 10 of the WTA rankings, won her first and only Grand Slam in the form of the French Open in 2020 but followed that with another solid campaign last year.

Swiatek was the only women's player to reach the fourth round of all of last year's Grand Slam events and that consistency should stand her in good stead.

She has already felt the wrath of Barty building up to this tournament, losing to the Australian in the semi-finals of the Adelaide International, and she can be backed at 12/1 to win the tournament.

Melbourne Summer Set champion Halep, meanwhile, is 14/1, improving Spaniard Paula Badosa is 18/1 and last year's French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova is 20/1.

And while all of the aforementioned players look the most likely to cause a stir in Melbourne, the most recent women's Grand Slam showed these major tournaments are far from foregone conclusions.

Raducanu with point to prove

Further down the betting at 50/1, Emma Raducanu will be on the radar of many after she defied expectations to win last year's US Open in New York.

The British teenager did so without dropping a single set and became the first ever qualifier in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title.

Raducanu is seeded 17th this time around, though, and still faces some potentially tough encounters in her section, which also features two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep and veteran Spaniard Muguruza.

Another outsider to be wary of is Belinda Bencic, who is priced at 80/1 to win the tournament.

The Swiss star's highlight in 2021 was undoubtedly taking the gold medal in the women's tennis in Tokyo, having seen off Marketa Vondrousova in the final.

She is still young at 24 and what is arguably most appealing about her as a candidate is her strength on hard courts.

Four of her five titles have come on the surface and her best ever Grand Slam performance came at the US Open in 2019, when she reached the semi-finals.

At a big price, she could be worth consideration to go deep in the tournament.

And the same goes for Greek talent Maria Sakkari, who is available at 40/1.

She reached a career-high sixth in the WTA rankings back in November and has consequently been handed a fairly soft draw as fifth seed in Melbourne.

The biggest threat to Sakkari in her section is arguably Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who she cannot even meet until the fourth round of the tournament.

Sakkari reached two Grand Slam semi-finals last year, also made the last four of the WTA finals and is an outside threat.

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