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Nic Ladds 17th Jan 2009 - 18:39

Strewth! It's the Aussie Open!

The first tennis Grand Slam of the year gets underway in Australia and unbelievably the favourite for the tournament is British.

You can forget about dingos, Harold Bishop and shrimps on 'barbies' as we prepare for two weeks of pure tennis action with six courts featured on our very own betliveTV.

To add to the joy a Britain is sharing favouritism for the tournament and really does have a genuine chance of winning.

Andy Murray is the joint 5/2 favourite with Roger Federer and his hopes of winning the tournament are not forlorn.

He has beaten Federer no less than twice this year already and there is no reason why the Scot should fear anybody in this tournament.

The Swiss ace has won this tournament three times and will expect to take his place in the final once again after missing out last year.

Current world number three Novak Djokovic won last year and is available at 6/1 in the betting for a repeat.

His opponent in the final last year Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a generous looking 25/1 to go one better this time.

Rafael Nadal will no doubt be popular in the betting at 4/1 but the feeling is the Spaniard doesn't get going until later in the year and he will do well to better his best finish of a semi-final place.

Perhaps the most interesting prospect at the prices is David Nalbandian who at odds of 16/1 looks to have a cracking chance.

He majorly disappointed last year but it has been reported he has been training in the off-season and is hitting the ball fantastically well at the moment. If he can get his serve back to the best it's been he will be there come the final day with a fantastic chance.

All eyes will be on Andy Murray though as he carries Britain's first real hope of Grand Slam glory since Fred Perry last won one in 1936.

In the women's tournament unfortunately last year's winner Maria Sharapova is not taking part due to a shoulder injury.

This leaves three-time winner Serena Williams favourite in the betting at 11/4 with her sister Venus at 7/2.

World number one seed and a favourite in the Murray household Jelena Jankovic is available at 5/1 with beauties Elena Dementieva and Ana Ivanovic at 8/1 and 10/1 respectively in the betting.

Previous winner Amelie Mauresmo despite her poor form may interest some at a massive 80/1 while Victoria Azarenka has been supported into 25/1 and should make a good run of it.

The most interesting contender looks like Dinara Safina at odds of 8/1. She has an excellent run to the latter stages of the tournament where her most likely quarter final opponent is Ivanovic who has not been in the best of form.

Should she then encounter Jankovic in the semi-finals it is interesting to note that she has never beaten Safina on a hard court, making her the most appealing bet for Grand Slam glory.

That's our opinion but hear what Andrew Castle has to say about all aspects of the Australian Open by listening to this podcast.

Click here to hear Andrew Castle's podcast

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