Heavy favourites advance with minimal fuss
The likes of Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem made round two with minimum fuss on the opening day at Melbourne Park, as heavy favourites got the job done in general. There were a couple of cracking clashes as well though, with Denis Shapovalov edging Jannik Sinner in a decider in their Next-Gen battle, after somehow saving 17 of 20 break points in the match, and converting five of his ten chances. Emil Ruusuvuori also battled through against Gael Monfils in five – again saving more break chances than his opponent – and I’m really excited to see how the Finnish talent progresses this year. I have pretty high hopes for him.
Following the big names at short prices yesterday, plenty more are in action on Tuesday to get their tournament started. Andrey Rublev, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafa Nadal are all priced as having a virtual bye against their opponents, and it would be a real shock if any of them were defeated.
If Gilles Simon can roll back the years against Tsitsipas, this would probably be the biggest chance of an upset, in my view.
Ivashka and Andujar with underdog potential on day two
The Tuesday card is quite tricky, with there being question marks about a number of players who my model found to be some value. Numbers like Ilya Ivashka in a big way at 2.186/5 for his match with qualifier Roman Safiullin, but the Belarussian hasn’t played this season after winning 13 of his last 14 matches at Challenger level last season, including titles in Ortisei and Istanbul. If he’s in decent condition, I think the price is wrong.
Pablo Andujar also looks big at 3.002/1 against Quentin Halys. Halys, another qualifier, has a mediocre record on hard courts in Challenger events over the last couple of years – he’s won less than 50% of matches outdoors and indoors at that level in the last two years – with poor return data as well which translates poorly to the main tour. Andujar is also mediocre on hard courts, but has far more experience on the main tour and although his loss last week in the Great Ocean Road Open against Pablo Cuevas was poor, I just don’t see any logical reason as to why Halys is a strong favourite for this.
Seppi can win veterans battle
The aforementioned Cuevas is another player who looks short, in the battle of declining veterans against Andreas Seppi. The Uruguayan is currently trading at 1.715/7, which is a price that I can’t work out either given his very poor hard court numbers both in recent years and throughout his career. Both players look below-average at this level, based on my data, but Seppi has the edge and I think he’s a false underdog for their match.
In other matches, Christopher O’Connell and Atilla Balazs could well have scope for a long-price upset against Jan-Lennard Struff and Roberto Carballes Baena, respectively, while there’s some fascinating match-ups as well. Kevin Anderson versus Matteo Berrettini looks the tie of the day – Berrettini is 1.4840/85 to get the win against the former top 10 veteran – while there’s an all-British clash between Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie.
We saw several finalists from last week lose today on the opening day, and fatigue could be a problem for Evans as well – Norrie looks a bit big at 3.2011/5.
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