Gambler’s Guide to the Australian Open

Where's Teddy putting his money?

Depending on your gambling philosophy, betting on Slams, at least where the men are concerned, is either very safe or utterly boring. The reason? Nobody wins them other than Nadal and Federer. Only two of the last 23 majors – 2008 Australian (Djokovic) and 2009 US Open (Del Potro) – have seen different champions. Short of Rex Ryan needing to draw attention to himself, it’s probably the closest thing there is right now to a “sure thing” in professional sports. But part of the allure of gambling is that it is actually a gamble.

Going into the 2011 Australian the top two seeds are again overwhelming favorites, each getting essentially 2-1 odds. Bookies have practically reduced the odds to a game of Two-card Monte, daring bettors with a 50-50 chance of picking a winner. Of course there’s that annoying problem of having to risk a huge chunk of your bank to see a decent return.

The next betting favorite is Andy Murray at around 6-1. He lost in the finals last year, and isn’t a bad pick for those turned off by the Nadal-Federer monotony. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him throw a hissy fit and bow out in the first week. He’s still British, after all. My thinking is to put the safe money on Nadal; I like that he’s going for his fourth straight Slam and some history. But also take a chance on a crazy crapper long shot. And if I can get him at 40-1, that crazy son-of-a-bitch is Andy Roddick.

Yes, Andy Roddick. Why? He’s made the semifinals in Melbourne every other year since 2003. So he’s due for another final four. Plus, his wife is in that Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston piece of humorless crap that is destined to bomb, and he’s going to want to do something special to rehabilitate the family name.

(By the way, what happened to Vince Vaughn? Isn’t he contractually obligated to be in every unwatchable chick flick? Oh that’s right: he’s trying his hand at bromance. Looks like another triumph.)

With Serena nursing an injured foot (or something), the women’s half of the draw is much harder to predict. In other words, not good bets. Kim Clijsters holds the pole position at around 2.5-1. Since she’s never won a Slam outside of Flushing I’d much rather short her (do those bets exist?) than pick her to win. Following her is Henin and Wozniacki at around 5-1. Neither excite me (ok, maybe Woz on occasion). So I’m going to travel a little further down the board and take Sharapova at 16-1. She did get bounced in the 1st round last year, but according to winning percentage this is her best Slam. Besides, I think Sharapova needs this title: It can’t be easy convincing all those companies she endorses she’s worth the money if she never wins anything.

Here’s some guessing from the world of punditry:

ESPN

Sports Illustrated – Men; Women

Tennis.com

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