The world’s finest tennis stars have assembled in Melbourne and they will spend the next two weeks battling it out for Australian Open glory. It could be the last hurrah for Britain’s Andy Murray, who revealed in a tearful press conference that he must retire imminently as a result of a hip injury. He faces a tough first round match against 22nd seed Roberto Batista Augut and he is likely to crash out. Expect top seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to surge into the second week while barely dropping a set. Djokovic is 5/4 with Boyle Sports to win it and that looks like a really tempting option. The women’s game is extremely unpredictable and upsets galore are to be expected, so never write off the underdog. But Serena Williams is the favourite, priced at 9/2 with Bet365 and various others, and she will take some stopping now that she is over her pregnancy and firing on all cylinders once more.
The onus is on Man City to secure a thumping win after Liverpool beat Brighton at the weekend to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premiership table. They have blown away lower league opposition in their last two games, beating Rotherham 7-0 and Burton Albion 9-0, but they will need to be at the top of their game against a plucky Wolves side. They are just 2/11 to win it, which doesn’t offer much value, so you might consider Man City and over 2.5 goals at 8/13 with Ladbrokes and Coral. Both teams to score also looks interesting at 13/10 with Ladbrokes, as City’s defence is somewhat porous and Wolves have some dangerous forwards.
The world’s top 16 players will contest the 2019 Masters in London from January 13-20. Ronnie O’Sullivan is the 2/1 favourite with Bet365, Betfred, Paddy Power and various others, and he is 2/7 to win his opener against Stuart Bingham on Monday. Judd Trump is 8/11 to beat Kyren Wilson on Wednesday and that looks like a solid bet as he is in good form and he has emerged as the second favourite to win the tournament.
The NBA is heading to London this week as the Washington Wizards lock horns with the New York Knicks at the O2 Arena. Both teams are struggling this season, but it should prove to be a routine win for the Wizards. The Knicks have lost nine of their last 10 games to slump to 10-32 for the season, which is a horrendous record. Were it not for Cleveland’s woes, they might be on course to end up as the worst team in the league this year. The Wizards are also enduring a losing season, but two wins in a row moved them to 18-25. They lost star player John Wall to a season-ending injury at the end of December, but the likes of Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza are battling bravely on and they should have more than enough firepower to overwhelm the Knicks.
The big game on Saturday sees fourth placed Arsenal host fifth placed Chelsea in a six-pointer that could have a huge impact on the race to earn Champions League qualification for next season. The Gunners are in dire straights at the moment and lost 1-0 to West Ham last time out, sparking further disgruntlement from supporters. Chelsea battled to a 2-1 win against Newcastle to move six points clear of Arsenal, and victory here would all but kill off Arsenal’s chances of overtaking them this season. They beat the Gunners 3-2 in the second game of the season, a thriller lit up by Eden Hazard’s brilliance, and a Chelsea win on Saturday might tempt some punters at 29/20 with Bet Victor. Over in Spain, Real Madrid take on Sevilla in another huge game. Barcelona are running away with the title, but Sevilla and Real are jostling for position below them, and Real will be keen to assert their domestic superiority once more, so a home win with a slight Asian handicap might interest some fans.
Legendary Filipino boxer Pacquiao is the 2/5 favourite with Ladbrokes, Sky Bet and Coral when he takes on the world’s eighth best welterweight on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao should be full of confidence after securing an impressive seventh round knockout victory over Lucas Matthysse in April. He threw 344 punches during that contest and impressed with his aggression and conditioning. Pac Man has won six of his last eight fights, and he is expected to topple an inconsistent Broner in this fight. Broner has never been knocked out, so the even money that Bet365 has on Pacquaio to win via a decision looks interesting.