Australian Open men’s singles round one: Djokovic, Federer feature
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | January 17, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Men’s singles round one
- Monday, January 18th
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport 1 and 2
Djokovic kicks of campaign against rising star
Top seed and 4/6 tournament odds-on favourite with Coral Novak Djokovic kicks off his Australian Open title defence on the opening day in Melbourne, as he aims to equal the great Roy Emerson’s record trophy haul of six at this event.
The super Serb faces young South Korean Hyeon Chung in the first session in the Rod Laver Arena, following women’s singles champion counterpart Serena Williams’ clash with Camila Giorgi, and is heavily odds-on at 1/100 for victory.
Djokovic is a more enticing 1/6 price to win, but he may not have it all his way throughout with 19-year-old Chung being one of the most promising stars on tour.
The world number 51 (20/1 to triumph) is already taking part in his third Grand Slam main draw, and has beaten established players on the circuit such as Sam Groth, Benoit Paire, Ivan Dodig and British duo Aljaz Bedene and James Ward in recent months.
On top of that, Chung only narrowly lost to Stan Wawrinka 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 at the last US Open in the second round and came close to upsetting Marin Cilic twice since. Therefore, tempting odds of 11/4 are available for the score to be 3-3 after six games in the first set.
Plenty left in the tank for evergreen Federer
All-time great and four-time champion Roger Federer has been handed a more straightforward opening tie with Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who is ranked outside the top 100 and was granted a main draw spot only because Tommy Haas withdrew.
Swiss number one Federer is also odds-on at 1/100 for victory, as he begins his quest for an 18th Grand Slam title and first since Wimbledon in 2012 – his last Australian Open crown was in 2010, meanwhile. He is the 12/1 tournament joint-fourth favourite, along with old rival Rafael Nadal.
Basilashvili is a 20/1 shout to cause a first round upset in the later session but, despite Federer being 34, is still among the best in the world and warmed up for this event by reaching the final at the Brisbane International.
Crunch clashes on day one
Perhaps the most intriguing and potentially exciting battle on day one in the men’s draw is between two former Australian Open finalists, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis.
While the Frenchman is the odds-on 1/9 favourite to beat his fellow 30-year-old (11/2), the duo are true crowd pleasers and could put on a real show in front of the expectant Margaret Court Arena crowd at around 09:15 GMT on Monday. Back Tsonga to win 3-2 at 11/2.
Elsewhere, French compatriot and 14th seed Gilles Simon (8/15 for victory) takes on world number 39 Canadian Vasek Pospisil (6/4), who has the potential to cause a shock.
Seventh seed Kei Nishikori (1/5), meanwhile, faces a tough test against veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber (7/2), who has never lost in the first round here in 10 previous attempts, and comes into this clash in shaky form and heavily underperforming in the last two Grand Slams.
Other top seeds in action
A number of top talent also feature on the first day, with the likes of Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov and home hope Nick Kyrgios in action against respective lesser opposition Yuki Bhambri, Thiemo de Bakker, Paolo Lorenzi and Pablo Carreno Busta.
Recent Davis Cup finalist with Belgium David Goffin, ace specialist Ivo Karlovic, exciting teenager Borna Coric, Benoit Paire, Sam Querrey and Dominic Thiem are other standout names to look out for.
Can Edmund build on promising 2015?
Finally, we take a look at 21-year-old Briton Kyle Edmund’s chances in his maiden Australian Open main draw match, as he goes up first on court 10.
The South African-born Yorkshireman automatically qualified thanks to the withdrawal of Richard Gasquet, and has a great chance of equalling his best Grand Slam appearance that he achieved in the French Open second round last year as he duels with Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.
Edmund has never faced his 23-year-old counterpart before, but boasted a commendable 2015 as he broke into the top 100 (now 88, just seven below Dzumhur) and put in a fantastic display in the Davis Cup final, coming close to shocking world number 16 Goffin.
British number three Edmund – behind Andy Murray and Slovenian-born Bedene – is the 1/3 odds-on to beat the Bosnian (12/5), and a more enticing 5/2 to win 3-1 to potentially set up an intriguing rematch with Goffin.
Coral’s top tip: With former Australian Open finalists and crowd entertainers Tsonga and Baghdatis pitted against each other, back the Frenchman at 11/2 to win 3-2.