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Australian Open: Top 10 contenders to win in Melbourne

The Australian Open gets under way on January 15 and we have all the latest tennis betting odds for the first Grand Slam of the year.

Roger Federer is the defending champion and his chances of retaining his title are improving all the time with Andy Murray pulling out and doubts surrounding the fitness of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. With so many injuries to top-class players, Federer has now been installed as favourite to win the tournament, but could someone else spring a surprise?

If you love a bet on tennis, take a look below at 10 contenders to win in Melbourne. We've also included tennis betting tips to give you a flavour of what to expect from some of the favourites and you can also click on the link to check out the rest of the players competing at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer

Odds: 15/8
Age: 36
Grand Slam titles: 19
Australian Open titles: 5

Federer was a true renaissance man in 2017, winning his first Grand Slam in five years at the Australian Open which he followed by winning Wimbledon for the ninth time, but ran out of puff bidding for a seventh World Finals title in November when he squandered a one-set lead in losing to David Goffin in the last four.

The 36-year-old Swiss already holds more Grand Slam titles than any other player in history and time is running out to hit the magic number of 20, but he will manage his schedule carefully in order to make it a reality. With Nadal, Dkokovic and Murray not certain to play in Melbourne, Federer is the new favourite to win the first Grand Slam of the year.

Chances: If he's fit, Federer has a great chance.

Rafael Nadal

Odds: 7/2
Age: 31
Grand Slam titles: 16
Australian Open titles: 1

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The world number one joined Djokovic in pulling out of the season-opening Brisbane International, but has a much better chance than the Serb of being fit for the Australian Open.

Nadal had been slight favourite to win the tournament but the knee injury which forced him to withdraw during the end-of-season World Finals in November remains a problem and has left Federer as the man to beat in Melbourne.

Nadal said on Twitter: "My intention was to play but I am still not ready after last year's long season and the late start of my preparation. I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open.''

The Spaniard has won this event just once but has been a losing finalist three times. Federer avenged his 2009 defeat by winning a thrilling five-set encounter against Nadal 12 months ago.

Chances: Looks a risk at the moment.

Novak Djokovic

Odds: 11/2
Age: 30
Grand Slam titles: 12
Australian Open titles: 6

The Serb has more Australian Open titles to his name than any other player during the open era, beating Murray in four of those six finals. However, he has not played for six months since an elbow injury forced him to pull out of Wimbledon during his quarter-final with Tomas Berdych and is doubtful to play in Melbourne.

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Djokovic pulled out of the Qatar Open after his elbow flared up which prevented him from playing in an exhibitiion match in Abu Dhabi.

Chances: Will struggle to make an impact if he makes it at all.

Grigor Dimitrov

Odds: 9/1
Age: 26
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open titles: 0

The tennis odds on our dark horse to win the Australian Open have tumbled since we tipped him at 35/1 before his sensational triumph at the ATP World Finals on his tournament debut. The three-set victory over David Goffin capped a brilliant season for the Bulgarian, who won four tournaments including Brisbane and his first Masters 1000 title, in Cincinnati.

Dimitrov finished the year as world number three and although his Grand Slam record is disappointing for such a talented player, he reached the semi-finals of the 2017 Australian Open which he lost in five sets to Nadal.

Chances: With question marks over the fitness levels of the world's elite, Dimitrov could spring a surprise.

Alexander Zverev

Odds: 9/1
Age: 20
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open titles: 0

The young German had his best season in 2017, winning five titles and making his debut at the end-of-season finals in London where he was knocked out in the round-robin stage. Zverev caused several tennis betting upsets during the season, beating Federer and Djokovic in the finals in Montreal and Rome respectively.

This will be only his sixth appearance at a Grand Slam and he has yet to get beyond the fourth round, but big things are expected of him. Zverev announced himself by reaching round three on his Australian Open debut 12 months ago, losing a five-setter to Nadal.

Chances: With top players on the sidelines for so long, he can go deep into the tournament.

Juan Martin del Potro

Odds: 14/1
Age: 29
Grand Slam titles: 1
Australian Open titles: 0

The Argentinian enjoyed a great final six months in 2017, securing a last-four spot at the US Open, winning the Stockholm Open for the second year in a row and reaching the final of the Swiss Indoors where he inevitably lost to Federer. Del Potro's season was one of the great success stories of the year after considering quitting the sport in 2015 because of a troublesome left wrist which has required three operations.

Injury has prevented Del Potro from playing at the Australian Open for the last three years but he ended the year as the world number 11, his highest ranking since 2014. He has a 68% win record here, but has never gone beyond the quarter-finals.

Chances: If he stays fit and gets a nice draw, a semi-final place is possible.

David Goffin

Odds: 17/1
Age: 27
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open titles: 0

Goffin has started to enter the fray in the Australian Open betting with Murray's withdrawal and more expected. The Belgian made the quarter-finals last year, equalling his best ever performance in a Grand Slam, and finished 2017 impressively by reaching the final of the ATP Finals in London, where he lost to Dimitrov in straight sets.

Goffin played in the Hopman Cup as part of his Australian Open preparations where he beat Zverev, who is half the price to win the title in Melbourne.

Chances: In form and fit, so hopes are improving.

Milos Raonic

Odds: 22/1
Age: 27
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open titles: 0

The big-serving Canadian got 2017 off to a great start by reaching the last eight of the Australian Open which he immediately followed by booking a place in the Delray Beach final. However, Raonic was forced to withdraw before the showpiece with a torn hamstring, the catalyst for an injury-riddled season which had few highlights, one of which was a quarter-final spot at Wimbledon.

Raonic has a good record in Melbourne, reaching the last eight for the last three years, and he was only denied a spot in the 2016 final by a brilliant comeback from Murray. Made his return from injury at the Japan Open in October after a seven-week lay-off following wrist surgery, but withdrew with a calf strain after just one game and hasn't been seen since. Had been due to appear with Wawrinka at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2017 but, like the Swiss, pulled out.

Chances: Has been chopping and changing his coach since 2016, plus his fitness is a concern.

Nick Kyrgios

Odds: 22/1
Age: 22
Grand Slam titles: 0
Australian Open titles: 0

The bad boy of tennis attracts more attention for his on-court behaviour than he does for his prodigious talent. The young Aussie reached two finals in a title-less season which meant he finished the year outside the top 20 in the world rankings.

His reputation wasn't helped by his retirement or withdrawal from five matches in 2017 - some of which came from genuine injuries, the last of which came in October when he shook hands with Steve Johnson at the Citi Open after losing a first-set tie-breaker and was booed off court, later claiming he was suffering from a stomach bug. With a Melbourne record that has been getting worse every year since his QF appearance in 2015, Aussie hopes are not in good hands.

Chances: A suspect temperament makes him one to avoid.

Stan Wawrinka

Odds: 28/1
Age: 32
Grand Slam titles: 3
Australian Open titles: 1

The 2014 champion is another of the top-six fancies to be out of action since Wimbledon and the one with the least chance of being a force in Melbourne. The Swiss has undergone two operations on his left knee which has been causing him problems since the Swiss Indoors in October 2016 and which was made worse by playing the grass-court season the year after.

Wawrinka, who split with coach Magnus Norman in October, was due to play in an Abu Dhabi exhibition in late December but withdrew, although he is still scheduled to appear at the Tie Break Tens in Melbourne along with Nadal and Djokovic.

Chances: If he makes it, unlikely to go far.

#CALLIT
Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Tennis