World Cups capture the imagination of the public like few other events. Even the most casual football observer can be swept up in the excitement of a national team when the tournament only comes around once every four years.
Australian Open 2018 Preview
As many tennis fans will already be well aware, Grand Slam tournaments present great opportunities to see the world's tennis greats duke it out for the ultimate prize.
Each year sees four Grand Slam competitions; naturally, however, it's the Australian Open annually scheduled for mid-January that is currently attracting feverish excitement.
It's a good time, then, to take a closer look at the tournament, its history, and the players who are tipped to take the main Australian Open honours in 2018 before you find the best site for tennis betting.
What is the Australian Open?
The Australian Open, managed by the governing body Tennis Australia, is held during every last fortnight of January in the city of Melbourne, Victoria.
This makes it the first Grand Slam event of every calendar year; the French Open follows in May and June before Wimbledon in July and the US Open during August and September. The Open is also well-attended, closely rivalling the US Open on this score.
Many of the world's most established sports broadcasters air the tournament - including the Seven Network in Australia, where the men's singles final is usually among the most viewed sports events.
The men's singles winner takes the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, while the player who triumphs in the women's singles final receives the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. The tournament also includes three doubles competitions: men's, women's and mixed.
The Australian Open is currently held at Melbourne Park, a venue forming part of the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct, where other sports events are also held. Games can still be played here during rainy or extremely hot weather, as the tournament uses three courts that feature retractable roofs.
The Australian Open will, however, eventually make use of a new 5,000-seat capacity stadium, construction of which is set to begin in 2019.
The History of the Australian Open
The Australian Open is the newest of the Grand Slams; it was founded in 1905, making it the sole Grand Slam to have started after the 19th century.
The first Australian Open took place in November 1905, when it was called the Australasian Championships. It was not, however, deemed a leading championship until the International Lawn Tennis Federation designated it as such for its 1924 outing. Three years later, the tournament was renamed the Australian Championships.
Moving to Melbourne
Various Australian and New Zealand cities have hosted the Australian Open during its history – the most frequent including Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. However, in 1972, Melbourne was made the permanent host city, as it attracted more patronage than any other city in Australia.
From 1972, the tournament was held annually at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club until 1988, when the competition was shifted to Melbourne Park, a sports complex where it has since been hosted every year.
Early in its history, the tournament struggled to attract many foreign players. This was because, in the early 20th century, simply journeying to Australia could be very time-consuming for overseas players.
The tournament was also in tough competition with other Australian tournaments; however, the number of players eligible to play in the tennis tournament was greatly expanded in 1969, which was the same year the tournament was given its modern name.
Since the move to Melbourne Park, attendance has quickly grown from just 244,859 in 1988 to 728,763 in 2017. Men's, women's and mixed doubles competitions take place within the tournament, the biggest stars of which are nonetheless the players who reach the later stages of the men's and women's singles.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the respective reigning champions, although the man with the most titles in the Open era is Novak Djokovic. In the women's singles, it's a five-way tie between Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis.
So, Which Players are Tipped to Triumph in 2018?
It’s important to employ different tennis betting strategies as you look to this year’s Australian Open. Although there are several strong contenders for the men's singles title, it's hard to look past Roger Federer. Last year, the Swiss titan overcame Rafael Nadal in five sets and will go into the 2018 tournament with five Australian Open titles to his name.
It's understandable that Australian tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt has doubted that 36-year-old Federer is "normal". The former world number one declared that last year, despite his advanced age, Federer did “the best he’s ever done against Rafa”.
Still, Hewitt conceded that he would "never write off" two fallen giants of the game, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Injuries have recently left both out of playing, but could a comeback be on the cards for either?
Hewitt, who won both the US Open and Wimbledon during his tennis career, has said that both Djokovic and Murray "play so well in the hot conditions". He declared: "If they can get through that first week and give themselves a chance then they're going to be tough to beat."
Similarly, an icon of the female game, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, expects Serena Williams to successfully defend the women's singles title she clinched last January. It was only in September that Williams gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, and Serena could soon become only the fourth mother in five decades of professional tennis to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Goolagong Cawley, an erstwhile world number one herself, opined that Williams has "so much talent and so much in her to win more tournaments." Furthermore, her new child could give her a feel-good factor that sends her right through to victory in the final.
Goolagong Cawley told The Sydney Morning Herald: "I know that from my own experience, after I had my daughter Kelly, I felt great. I just wanted to get back on that court. I'm sure she's feeling the same way."
With all this in mind and some general knowledge of tennis betting odds, you could place some winning bets for this year’s Australian Open.
What is the Tournament's 2018 Schedule Looking Like?
The 2018 Australian Open will begin on 10 January, when qualifying commences. The first match of the championship proper, however, won't be until 15 January. First-round matches will take place in the morning in the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, Hisense Arena and Outside Courts, while the first two of these spaces will also have evening fixtures. This will remain the schedule for first, second, third and fourth-round matches running through to 22 January.
The quarter-final matches will be held on 23 and 24 January – a Tuesday and Wednesday. Both the women's and men's singles semi-finals will be on 25 and 26 January. The women's singles final will start at 7:30pm in the Rod Laver Arena on 27 January, and the men's singles final is set to begin at the same time and venue the following day.
That will wrap up the entire tournament – which will, of course, also feature various doubles matches along the way.
The Last Word Before the 2018 Australian Open
Okay, so perhaps not literally the last word... but we have reason to be confident about how the tennis tournament will unfold.
Although proceedings could be somewhat unpredictable in the run-up to the singles finals, we don't doubt that Federer will further cement his reputation as he maintains his momentum from winning two 2017 Grand Slam titles. Furthermore, the elation that Serena likely feels from recently giving birth could help her to prevent nervousness from setting in as she approaches a truly historic Grand Slam victory. Once you take the time to understand tennis betting and use the research in this article, you can place some educated bets on this year’s Open.
Who do you reckon will taste glory at the 2018 Australian Open? Compare our ratings and reviews for the leading sports betting portals to ensure that you place your bet at the very best site for your requirements. Good luck!