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The first Grand Slam event of the year - the Australian Open - is set to begin on January 20th against a backdrop of bushfires which have resulted in more than 20 deaths and the loss of nearly 2,000 homes.

As a result, Australians Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur, among many others, have vowed to donate money per ace hit as part of the #Aces4BushfireRelief campaign.

Emotions aside, check out potential winners and dark horses for the upcoming Grand Slam:

Men's singles - Projected Winner:

Novak Djokovic

Grand Slam titles: 16

Last five years at Australian Open: W-4R-2R-W-W

Australian Open best odds to win: +162

Look no further than the tournament favorite and world number two Novak Djokovic to place your money on. Djokovic enters the Australian Open as the top seed for the second consecutive year having won the tournament a record seven times which he achieved last year by defeating Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

Djokovic would later win his 16th career Grand Slam title after winning Wimbledon for the second straight season and fifth time in his career.

The Serbian won three times in a row between 2011-13 and 2015-16, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again this time around.

Men’s Singles - Dark Horse:

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Grand Slam titles: 0

Last five years at Australian Open: SF-1R-2Q-A-A

Australian Open best odds to win: +1200

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 21, is the youngest player ranked in the world’s top ten, sitting at #6 after a strong finish to the 2019 season.

Tsitsipas ended the year with his fourth title having qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. Tsitsipas battled through the round-robin groups and reached the semifinals where he defeated Roger Federer to advance to the final where he defeated Dominic Thiem in a third-set tiebreak.

The Greek began the season just as strongly, reaching a first Grand Slam semi-final in the Australian Open before being bounced by Rafael Nadal.

Look for Tsitsipas to bring his excellent 2019 campaign into the new year. He has strong value at +1200 odds, and is a nice long shot play on the men’s side.

Women's singles - Projected Winner

Ashleigh Barty

Grand Slam titles: 1

Last five years at Australian Open: QF-3R-3R-A-A

Australian Open best odds to win: +800

Ashleigh Barty is the top-ranked women’s player and had a coming out party in 2019 after winning her first grand slam title at the French Open - becoming the first Australian to win a grand slam singles title since Sam Stosur’s US Open triumph in 2011.

Barty produced her best performance in Melbourne last year when she reached the quarter-finals only to be taken apart by Peter Kvitova who went on to reach the final. 

The 23-year-old Queenslander will be motivated to bring the feel-good factor to a nation devastated by the bushfires and looks good value at odds of +800 to win a second grand slam

Women’s Singles - Dark Horse

Naomi Osaka

Grand Slam titles: 2

Last five years at Australian Open: W-4R-2R-3R-A

Australian Open best odds to win: +900

Naomi Osaka is the reigning Australian Open champion having beaten Petra Kvitova 12 months ago, becoming the first woman to win consecutive grand slams since Serena Williams in 2015.

Osaka enters the Australian Open as the fourth seed, just like last year, and is being slightly overlooked with her odds sitting at +900. The Japanese star won three titles last year having won the US Open in 2018, so looks a strong play to add to her tally.

By Stephen Rodriguez

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