Australian tennis organisers are glad to have Serena Williams and Andy Murray back in the Australian Open.

Williams missed the 2018 edition with some lame excuse about recovering from pregnancy, even though she won in 2017 while pregnant with her first child. A note from her doctor explaining her absence was not necessary and she earned and deserved the time away.

Her competitors made the most of her being away and Caroline Wozniacki took the women’s singles trophy.

Williams has won the Australian Open seven times, but does not appear jaundiced in any sense and she was remarkable when she resumed last season, so it is no surprise to see her at the head of the bookies’ list by a considerable margin.

Murray had a cruel 2018 and injuries accounted for his poor showing, but he will return as a top three seed courtesy of a protected ranking. He is a five-time finalist and would like nothing better than to grab the third leg of a career slam to go alongside his two Wimbledon and one U.S. Open wins. That would leave him lacking just the French Open and any optimist would tell you that Rafael Nadal cannot win forever.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer enter with a unique opportunity. Should either win, they will break the tie on six they currently share with Roy Emerson.

Djokovic is the prohibitive favourite on the men’s side, with Nadal and Federer tied on the second line. Murray is in the top five in the Ladbrokes futures market for the 2019 Australian Open and Nick Kyrgios is a couple spots back.

All, most, some of Australia is hoping that Kyrgios will finally get the Grand Slam monkey off his back, if not out of his head.

Ash Barty is the top Aussie prospect on the women’s side and she has beaten some of the women above her on the bookmakers’ tables.

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