The first Grand Slam of the 2015 season is just a few days away now, so it’s probably the right time for taking a look at the draw and getting a few outright bets on. With Rafael Nadal back in action, the expectations will be high.

Who Can Win?

Maria Sharapova

Source: Christian Mesiano @ Flickr

Once again, the schedule of play won’t be very kind for those of us who aren’t located in Asia, but the quality of tennis that should be on offer will surely keep us awake over the next two weeks. Who’s going to impress everyone the most, however? And does Stanislas Wawrinka have a chance of successfully defending his title? Well, probably not. He played decent tennis in Chennai and that should give him some confidence, but the most likely scenario is that the pressure will get to him at some point and that he’ll be unable to deal with it.

Novak Djokovic, the world’s number one, is therefore the obvious favourite for the title and we wouldn’t hesitate to back him if it weren’t for the odds, which are really too low for any serious consideration, especially since his loss against Ivo Karlovic needs to be kept in mind. Roger Federer is the player to back if you want to have an outright play on the men’s draw and go for one of the big names, as he’s been really consistent in the recent months and seems to have lost nothing during the off-season.

It’s not surprising that Serena Williams is the favorite for the women’s title yet again, but those who saw her Hopman Cup matches will know that she’s going to face an extremely tough task in Melbourne this year. That said, it isn’t that easy to say who should win instead of her. Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova both come into consideration, but we’ll go with the former, since Kvitova tends to struggle in the Australian conditions fitness-wise.

Potential Surprises

Milos Raonic

Source: globalite @ Flickr

The comeback of Rafael Nadal might mean a lot in the grand scheme of things, but his chances of getting the big trophy in Melbourne seem to be really slim. He appears to be very determined to prove his worth and chances are that he’s going to win a few matches, but someone like Tomas Berdych could stop him in the end, as Nadal just doesn’t seem to be in a particularly good spot at the moment. Those who’d like to oppose Novak Djokovic in some form could consider backing Milos Raonic to win his quarter, especially since Djokovic doesn’t seem to be particularly good against these guys with big serves – his records against Karlovic and Isner prove that point rather nicely. Moreover, the Canadian has done a lot of work in the off-season and nearly upset Federer in the Brisbane finals.

Finally, David Ferrer could prove to be a good pick in the third quarter of the draw, as he has a pretty good record in the Australian Open and showed some good tennis in Doha, beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the finals. Nishikori and Wawrinka haven’t done that much recently, after all.

As far as the women’s draw is concerned, Karolina Pliskova could prove to be a shrewd bet in her quarter of the draw, as she was excellent in Sydney and should therefore be able to convert that form into some good performances in Melbourne. Her quarter might include Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic, but both seem to be beatable at the moment, so the price that is on offer for the Czech looks way too high.

Finally, Venus Williams could also do a lot of damage in her part of the draw, as she’s started the new season on a surprisingly high note, beating Caroline Wozniacki in Auckland and therefore securing an early title. She’s naturally incredibly experienced and her draw doesn’t look all that tough either, so perhaps she could prove that she’s still good enough even for the biggest stage by making it through to the semi-finals. The weather conditions look set to be quite unpleasant and that might hinder her chances, but there is compensation for that in the form of juicy odds.

The Recommendations

Roger Federer to win Australian Open 2015 (Best Odds: 7.00 @ Unibet)

Maria Sharapova to win Australian Open 2015 (Best Odds: 6.00 @ Bet365)

Tomas Berdych to win his quarter (Best Odds: 3.60 @ Paddy Power)

Milos Raonic to win his quarter (Best Odds: 9.00 @ Pinnacle)

David Ferrer to win his quarter (Best Odds: 5.00 @ Pinnacle)

Karolina Pliskova to win her quarter (Best Odds: 11.00 @ Paddy Power)

Venus Williams to win her quarter (Best Odds: 9.00 @ Paddy Power)