Which defending champion has a better chance of retaining their Australian Open title in 2016 – Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams?

It’s a divisive question but Australian Open analytics team has been busy crunching the numbers to provide objective projections for the outcome of this year’s Open.

As for the Novak or Serena question? It’s a close-run thing – but first, an explanation of how the predictions were made.

We have estimated each player’s current win ability using an Elo rating, created by Hungarian-born American physics professor and chess master Arpad Elo. The Elo ratings measure a player’s (or team’s) strength using all their career performance data, while weighting more recent performance outcomes more heavily.

It also weights each result according to the strength of the opponent, so that a bigger win gives a bigger Elo ratings boost.

After determining the pre-tournament Elo rating for each player, we use it to calculate the respective win probability of the two opponents in every match. As we determine the outcomes through to the final, the player with the greater win probability in each match progresses through the tournament.

How the men’s draw shapes up

No.1 seed Novak Djokovic is rated a 54.4 per cent chance of continuing his dominance at the majors. A sixth AO title is also expected to boost his Elo rating to 2514.6 – 160 points ahead of Roger Federer, another indication of the extent to which Djokovic has separated himself from the rest of the field.

Federer, the third seed, has a slight edge over second seed Andy Murray, for the title, which would make the first Grand Slam win for Federer since his Wimbledon title in 2012. Nevertheless, Federer is projected to have a somewhat tougher time getting to the final than Murray (47.3 per cent vs 52.7 per cent), suggesting that Federer has the tougher draw but would have better odds against Djokovic should he reach the final.

Only six other players have been predicted to have a one per cent chance or greater of a title win. The most surprising win of that group, according to seeding, would be the maiden Grand Slam of No.13 seed Milos Raonic.

BEST BET – N Djokovic – $1.65

VALUE BET – R Federer $10 & Raonic $25

Djokovic 54.4 77.5 1399.6 2514.6 0.09
Federer 15.6 47.3 772.2 2353.9 -0.02
 Murray 12.4 52.7 791.1 2292.1 0.05
 Nadal 6.9 36.9 570.6 2252.2 0.07
Wawrinka 3.3 25.4 415.7 2197.8 0.01
 Nishikori 1.8 15.8 278.2 2181.2 -0.13
 Ferrer 1.3 20.9 347.4 2120.9 0.07
Berdych 1.1 16.7 303.3 2122.1 0.03
 Raonic 1.0 13.2 255.3 2120.0 -0.12


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