Australian Open Betting Preview: Djokovic, Murray, Serena favorites

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The two men who met for the 2016 Australian Open singles title are the co-favorites to win this year in Melbourne, as defending champion Novak Djokovic and runner-up Andy Murray are both listed at +150 (bet $100 to win $150) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Murray beat Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Finals last November to take over the title as the top-ranked player in the world from his rival for the first time. Last year, Murray won Wimbledon and the gold medal in men’s singles at the Rio Olympics while Djokovic won the Australian Open and the French Open.

Stan Wawrinka upset Djokovic for the 2016 U.S. Open title, and he is the third choice to win the 2017 Australian Open at +1100 ahead of other contenders like Rafael Nadal (+1200), Milos Raonic (+1600) and Roger Federer (+1600). Nadal and Federer are former champions.

Wawrinka is the only other player besides Djokovic to win the men’s singles championship at Melbourne since Federer last won it in 2010 over Murray, who has been the runner-up in five of the previous seven years and gone more than three sets twice.

Federer is a four-time Australian Open champ and lost to Djokovic in one semifinal last year as the third seed while Raonic fell to Murray in the other semifinal.

On the women’s side, six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams is the +200 betting favorite, but she has only one title in Melbourne over the past six years, with the last coming in 2015. Williams was upset last year by seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber, who won 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 for her first Grand Slam title.

Kerber followed that up by winning the U.S. Open last September after Williams fell in the semifinals to Karolina Pliskova.

Kerber is the +350 second choice on the tennis betting lines for the Australian Open while Pliskova, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are all +800. Halep reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne each of the last three years and is still seeking her first Grand Slam title. Muguruza won last year’s French Open for her first Grand Slam title, defeating Williams in straight sets.

The lone Grand Slam title for Williams in 2016 came at Wimbledon, which she has won seven times.

Tsonga levels for France in Davis Cup final against Belgium

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LILLE, France (AP) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga swept past Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to put France level with Belgium on the opening day of the Davis Cup final on Friday.

Tsonga’s comfortable win over the 76th-ranked Darcis evened the tie at 1-1 ahead after Belgium’s top player David Goffin had dispatched Lucas Pouille in straight sets.

Tsonga missed several chances to move ahead early in the first set but finally broke for a 5-3 lead with a deep forehand attack on his fourth break point. The Frenchman then claimed five consecutive games and served out the second set at love with a drop shot that hit the net cord and dribbled over for a winner.

Tsonga continued to play consistent and occasionally brilliant tennis in the third, including a series of reflex volleys.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)