Betting Value on Day 11 at the Australian Open
Well, it appears to be “just one of those tournaments” for me!
As Tennys Sandgren took the court up 5-3 in the second set — serving to level the match at a set a piece — I figured our +6 games would be sitting pretty. But Sandgren’s chances came and went after he failed to serve it out at 5-3 and then succumbed in the second set breaker. Of course, Sandgren had to make things even more painful (yet, electric), by squandering break-back points in the final game of the match, which would’ve all but secured the +6 (in heroic fashion). But with the ultimate 4-6, 6-7, 3-6 result — we push sigh. C’est la vie.
Anyway, after last night, we have our 2018 Australian Open semifinal matches set. On the ladies’ side, we have Elise “Money” Mertens vs. Caro Wozniacki and Simona Halep vs. Angelique Kerber. And on the men’s side, Roger Federer vs. Hyeon Chung and Marin Čilić vs. Kyle Edmund.
Being that fellow Action Network tennis expert Stuckey and I each still have one of our two pre-tournament future bets alive — Stuck with Wozniacki(+1250) and myself with Roger (+210) — we will focus on the other two semifinal matches tonight, instead. Let’s get into it.
Marin Čilić (-280) vs. Kyle Edmund
I like Čilić in this one. I love what I’ve seen from him so far in Melbourne. I started buying in on Čilić this tournament during his 4R match against Pablo Carreño, which turned into an absolute bloodbath. In that third set, Čilić went down a break twice — and the match easily could’ve gotten away from him.
But the big Croat really dug in there, and I witnessed him “flip the switch.” He raised his level to that of a Grand Slam champion, ultimately topping PCB in four sets. And then for him to come out and raise his level (yet again) in the following round — this time against Rafa Nadal — was really encouraging to see from Čilić.
Tonight he must raise his level once more against Kyle Edmund, who’s seemingly playing the best tennis of his career. I expect Edmund to have some chances in this one; he has too much talent not to. Edmund’s serve has stood the test all tournament, which should allow him to get some free points against Čilić. And, on Čilić’s serve, I think Edmund possesses the ability as a defender from the baseline to carve out his share of chances.
But the difference-maker tonight, in my opinion, will come between the ears of Čilić. He is less likely to wilt under the pressure of the moment. I have a feeling (as in Čilić’s match against PCB) a few big points will decide the outcome. Given the look in Čilić’s eyes the past week (like a man possessed), I think he will ultimately win a majority of those big pressure moments.
Head to Head: Čilić won the only match these two have played at the tour level last year in Shanghai in straight sets (6-3, 7-6). That result is a pretty accurate representation of how tonight’s match will play out — at least as far as external conditions. Both Shanghai and the AO feature quick outdoor hard courts, which better suit Čilić. Edmund has posted better results on indoor hard court in my view.
I think oddsmakers have priced this match fairly. I fancy Čilić to win this match, although I don’t see much value at -280. He could work as a potential ML parlay piece if you have a spot to fill.
Angelique Kerber (-140) vs. Simona Halep
This is a great spot for Angie Kerber tonight against a player she has dominated in the past (won five of the past six). Kerber has looked supremely confident this tournament, and her entire game comes and goes with her confidence. She has beat up on elite players like Maria Sharapova (6-1, 6-3) and Madi Keys (6-1, 6-2), and only dropped one set in Melbourne (against a very much in-form Su-Wei Hsieh).
Kerber’s defensive pressure will eventually wear down Halep, who still has fitness issues ahead of this one (battling with an ankle injury). Kerber will simply get everything back, forcing Halep to hit ball after ball — and I just can’t trust Halep’s ankle to hold up to that type of defensive pressure.
I like Kerber to advance to the final. It would take Halep’s best effort to get through; with all the tennis she’s played (and stress put on that ankle), I’m just not sure she has the physical tools to win this match. Additionally, Kerber, a two-time Grand Slam winner, will have the mental edge over a notorious choker. Kerber still holds value at the current price, as I think she wins her 11th straight in 2018. Two similar games, with one player (Kerber) in much better form, with a stronger head.
Oh, and go Caro.