First things first: the following plays are called long shots for a reason.
On the men's side, 56 of the past 67 Grand Slam tournaments—dating back to 2004—have been won by either Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. The Swiss' injury notwithstanding, it's hard to pick against one of the Big Three coming out on top again. (Djokovic, the oddsmakers' prohibitive favorite—who has won the Australian Open seven times in the last 10 years—is listed at +135 to win the title.)
On the women's side, 12 of the last 20 Grand Slam tournaments were won by first-time major champions. But many of the multiple-time major champs in that stretch have experienced perplexing bouts of inconsistency, even at the Slams. (Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber, for example.) There's no telling who might come out on top.
Over time, the Big Three’s dominance at the majors has ballooned the outright winner’s odds for the rest of the field to numbers that seem too good to be true. But at some point in the very near future, there will be a surprise Grand Slam champion on the men’s side—and someone could capitalize on these incredibly inflated numbers.
As for the women's side, what's to say our long-shot selection can't win it all?
Here are four the most promising, and potentially rewarding. long-shot bets for the 2021 Australian Open.
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change.
Stan Wawrinka (+10000, or 100 to 1)
The three-time major champion knows that his career is winding down, but according to the Swiss, “I also believe I have one last push that I really want to, again, one more time push myself to the limit, make the sacrifice that you need to make to be at my top.”
Let’s not complicate this one. Of the last 27 Slams, the Big Three have won 21, Marin Cilic, Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem have won one apiece—and Wawrinka has won three. He triumphed in Melbourne in 2014, and reached the quarterfinal last year. At 100 to 1, he is a solid longshot bet to fulfill his prophecy and end his career on a high note.
Ugo Humbert (+40000, or 400 to 1)
Just a few days ago, Humbert was listed as a 700 to 1 favorite to win the Australian Open. Players like Benoit Paire, Richard Gasquet, Jeremy Chardy and Dominik Koepfer were favored ahead of Humbert. That has dropped all the way to 400 to 1, but that’s still tremendous value for the exceptionally talented Frenchman. To finish the 2020 season, Humbert defeated Daniil Medvedev, Pablo Carreno Busta, Alex de Minaur, Cilic and Stefanos Tsitsipas—all players more heavily favored to win the Australian Open, by at least 20,000 points.
In addition to his phenomenal end to the season, Humbert was lucky enough to dodge the 14-day mandatory quarantine that so negatively affected 72 other competitors. If that’s not enough, UTR’s three-month trending rating pegs Humbert as the ninth toughest competitor in the tournament, while DraftKings odds have him as the 26th favorite.
I believe Humbert has major championship potential, and the two-time 2020 title winner appears to be on the verge of yet another breakout season.
Vasek Pospisil (+70000, or 700 to 1)
After struggling with a back injury for nearly three years, the 30-year-old Canadian is completely healthy and playing some of the best tennis of his career. Pospisil will need a friendly draw in order to do some damage Down Under, but he proved he’s more than capable of springing some serious upsets at the 2020 US Open, where he defeated Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut in consecutive matches.
According to a coach in Melbourne, “the courts are playing quicker than last year and the balls are going bald instead of fluffing up.” If you’ve played enough tennis, you should know that a fuzz-less tennis ball in 100+ degree heat is a big-hitters paradise.
The quick courts and lively Dunlop balls will only help Pospisil’s flat strokes and aggressive game. But most importantly, UTR’s three-month rating lists Pospisil as the 10th best player in the tournament, while the DraftKings odds place him as the 39th overall favorite. That kind of discrepancy is exactly what you are looking for in long-shot bets.
Ons Jabeur (+10000, or 100 to 1)
The odds for the outright winner on the women’s side offer much less return than long shots on the men’s side. But Jabeur—who reached the quarterfinal last year before falling to eventual champion Sofia Kenin— stands out the most.
“The goal for this year, I want to go for titles, enough of quarter-finals,” Jabeur told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “I know I have the level to be at this ranking and I know I can achieve this, I’ve put in the hard work needed to reach these goals and win more and more.”
Jabeur’s talent level is undeniable; her combination of raw power and finesse is unlike any other player on tour. Her trending UTR rates her at the ninth-best competitor in the tournament, while DraftKings lists her as the 32nd overall favorite. Jabeur clearly loves the conditions in Australia, and even though she worked hard on her fitness in the off-season, will benefit from the extra days rest allotted at Grand Slams.
In the past six months, Jabeur’s only hard court losses have come to Victoria Azarenka, Kenin, Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka. She’s only losing to the very best players in the game, and at 100 to 1, the Tunisian is one of the only true long shot bets worth placing on the women’s side.