After almost a year’s break from tennis, Ashleigh Barty shoulders a lot of pressure ahead of her Grand Slam return at the 2021 Australian Open.
One wouldn’t guess it judging from her standing with the sportsbooks, however, with the native entering this year’s tournament behind +550 frontrunner Naomi Osaka with most. Unibet USA offers a princely price of +900 that Barty will win on home soil, putting her level with fellow contenders Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka.
However, the top seed’s chances stand out in value considering how well she stood up in an exhibition match against world No. 2 Simona Halep in January. There, the world’s top two players finished level on one set apiece before Halep won via tiebreaker, but the result was hugely promising for a player who’s been away from the game for an extended period.
Barty, who won her maiden Grand Slam at the 2019 French Open, has made it to at least the quarter-final stage of the last two Australian Opens, hoping to reach her first final in 2021:
Unlike most players in attendance, Barty has the added advantage of being able to train as normal in her own country without the need for such a strict quarantine. The positive effect of that preparation promises to pay dividends over the course of a two-week tournament, and Barty’s +900 odds look well worthy of a punt considering she’s the No. 1 seed.