Can Ashleigh Barty Win the Australian Open?

Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty. Ed Jones/ AFP

World number one Ashleigh Barty has been named the +500 favorite with BetMGM to win the Australian Open in January. Can she pull it off? 

Bidding for Glory 

Barty was named WTA Player of the Year for 2021 after enjoying a stellar season. She landed five WTA titles and secured her second Grand Slam triumph when she won Wimbledon in the summer. 

However, the Australian has not yet won a Grand Slam on hard court. She won the French Open in 2019, and Wimbledon this year, but she has never made it past the semi-finals of the Australian Open, and her best performance at the US Open was a fourth-round finish. 

Yet many fans expect her to put that right in Melbourne next month. She will be playing on home soil, backed by partisan crowds after the state of Victoria permitted the tournament to operate at full capacity. 

Unibet, PlaySugarHouse, BetRivers, and Bet365 all make Barty the clear favorite at just +450 to win the tournament. BetMGM, Caesars, and PointsBet are offering +500 on her lifting the trophy. Can she maintain the form she displayed in 2021? 

A Superb Season 

Barty chose to skip most of the 2020 season due to concerns relating to the pandemic. She remained world number one thanks to the protected rankings system at the time, but some feared she would struggle after an 11-month hiatus. 

Those fears were totally unfounded. She won the Yarra Valley Classic in the run-up to the Australian Open, and she was impressive in Melbourne despite losing to Karolína Muchová in the quarter-finals

Barty went on to win the Miami Open, which ensured she remained above Naomi Osaka in the world rankings, and then she won the Stuttgart Open on clay. She was among the favorites for French Open glory, but she had to withdraw due to injury. 

Barty returned to full fitness in time for Wimbledon, and she beat Barbora Krejčíková and Angelique Kerber en route to seizing the title. She was the first top-seeded woman to triumph at Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016. 

She won the Cincinnati Open without dropping a set, but she then cut her season short after a shock third-round defeat to Shelby Rodgers at the US Open, missing the Indian Wells Open and the WTA Finals. 

Despite missing those events, Barty still ended the season with more ranking points than any other player. She has now rested and recuperated, and she has a great chance to win a first hardcourt major on home soil

Rivals Assemble 

Osaka is the second favorite at +600 for this tournament. You then have a sizeable gap to the joint third favorites, where Aryna Sabalenka and Garbiñe Muguruza are both priced at +1400 with FanDuel, Anett Kontaveit is +1500 and Iga Swiatek is +1600. 

Serena Williams is still out injured, so Osaka could prove the greatest threat to Barty’s chances of success. The Japanese superstar won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, along with the US Open in 2018 and 2020, making her the dominant hard court player of the past few years

However, it is difficult to justify betting on Osaka after she pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon following her refusal to conduct post-match interviews. She lacked composure in losing to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open after making her return, and Barty seems mentally stronger than Osaka right now. 

British teenager Emma Raducanu, who beat Fernandez to win the US Open, could perhaps represent an interesting outside bet at +1800 with FanDuel, but Barty has the experience, the talent, and home advantage, so odds of +500 on her lifting the trophy look very tempting.