THE PARS have pretty much held station through the Christmas period and are in seventh place in the standings ahead of their visit to Tannadice on Saturday.

However, with the majority of the division boasting no better than average records, the last play-off spot is still up for grabs. Dundee United are presently in a clear third place but their current form is no better than Dunfermline’s and the bookmakers are understandably guarded about their prospects of beating the Pars by offering 13/10; a draw being 12/5 (Bet365/Betfred) and an away win 11/5 (Hills).

Both sides are not crying out to be backed and this has the makings of being a struggle.

Prediction: Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 0.

Tennis’ first grand slam, the Australian Open, begins next week and with Andy Murray still trying to get back on track after injury, other names have jumped ahead of him as more probable winners of the event. The first three names are the familiar foes of Novak Djokovic at 5/4, Roger Federer 11/2 (Unibet) and Rafael Nadal 8/1 but Alexander Zverev 9/1, Marin Cilic 28/1 (Skybet) plus Kei Nishikori and Karen Khachanov at 33/1 are also rated higher than Murray, who is an unconsidered 40/1 chance.

The ladies' event is wide open: Serena Williams is favourite at 9/2 and every other player can be backed at double-figure prices. Angelique Kerber is at 10/1 (Betway), Naomi Osaka (with Betfred), Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep 12/1, Elina Svitolina 14/1, Sloane Stephens 16/1 and Garbine Muguruza rounds off the leading fancies at 20/1.

The Masters is one of snooker’s most prestigious events of the season and the BBC will be providing live coverage when the tournament starts on Sunday. Ronnie O’Sullivan heads the outright market at 9/4; Mark Selby and Judd Trump are both 8/1, Mark Allen 11/1, Mark Williams 12/1, John Higgins 14/1, Neil Robertson and Kyren Wilson both 16/1 (Betfred), Ding Junhui 18/1 (Ladbrokes), Barry Hawkins 20/1, Shaun Murphy 25/1, Jack Lisowski and Stuart Bingham both 33/1, Ryan Day 40/1, Stephen Maguire 66/1 and Luca Brecel 100/1.