Betting Value on Day 6 at the Australian Open
Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports
Eight more matches are on tap at the Australian Open, kicking off around 8:30 EST. Fortunately for players, the weather should cool down considerably, with the forecast calling for upper 70s and low 80s for the rest of the week. After a couple days full of upsets, last night played out rather straightforward, as seven of eight favorites won. The lone favorite to lose, of course, was the mercurial Alexandr Dolgopolov — who I mentioned could struggle against the relentless defensive effort of Diego Schwartzman. Tonight, I expect a return to the unexpected. Let’s get into the card.
Sascha Zverev (-190) vs. Hyeon Chung
At first glance, the line screams “upset” — with Sascha Zverev (the World No. 4) less than a two-dollar favorite against Hyeon Chung. But I still fancy Zverev in a classic “show and prove” match against an inferior talent.
Zverev — well aware of his Grand Slam struggles — should sense the urgency and raise his level tonight. The South Korean Chung was lucky to draw the elder Zverev, Mischa, in the first round (who retired due to injury) and a fatigued Daniil Medvedev in the second round (who couldn’t stand the heat). Tonight will be an entirely different type of test for Chung. With the winner of this match most likely getting Novak Djokovic — Zverev, the better player, will smell the opportunity and show his class tonight.
Head to Head: Chung owns the H2H 1-0, but that match came on clay last year in Barcelona (under entirely different conditions).
At under two-dollars, Zverev holds value — but this match does feel rather … “trappy.” Tread with caution.
Maximilian Marterer (-154) vs. Tennys Sandgren
After entering this tournament 0-5 on hard courts at the Tour level, Max Marterer now finds himself as a pretty solidly priced favorite in R3. Tennys Sandgren will test the young German, but I lean Marterer to come through.
Mind you, Sandgren upset former Australian Open champ Stan Wawrinka in his last match. It’s a big ask for a player with the experience of Sandgren (or lack thereof) to back up a win of that caliber. And while Stan was undoubtedly lethargic against Sandgren in R2, there’s no doubt that Marterer will raise his level with his eyes set on the second week of a Grand Slam.
Head to Head: N/A
Price fairly, but be wary of the Sandgren “letdown match” after upsetting Wawrinka in the last round.
Fabio Fognini (-250) vs. Julien Benneteau
Tricky match, this. I think layers are being a tad too generous toward the volatile Italian, Fabio Fognini, at -250 against Julien Benneteau. The veteran Benneteau has exactly the type of game that gives Fognini fits — with his methodical point construction and overall consistency off the ground. Unless Fognini comes out and hits Benneteau off the court, I think this will be a difficult matchup for Fognini — who is certainly due for a vintage “stinker” match.
On the flip side, Benneteau has been rolling of late. His strokes from behind the baseline have looked sound, and he’s been serving well, too. In his first round against Taro Daniel, Juli won 76% of his first serve points; and he won 70% of first serve points against David Goffin in the second round. If he serves this efficiently against Fognini, he’ll have a great chance. Even at 36, Juli has been able to sustain his stretches of fine play for matches at a time. Think back to last year at the Paris Masters when Benny made a semifinal run after beating Denis Shapovalov, Jo Tsonga, Goffin and Marin Čilić.
Head to Head: For what it’s worth (perhaps not much), Benneteau won the only match between the two — 2010 Wimbledon, by a score of 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
VALUE with the motivated Benneteau against a super inconsistent player who has been known to self destruct.
Domi Thiem (-333) vs. Adrian Mannarino
Domi Thiem continued to struggle with hardcourt point construction in his last match against Denis Kudla. Thiem escaped that one from down two sets, but if he starts slow against Adrian Mannarino, he will pack his bags.
I think the game spread looks like a good bet here, with the Frenchman getting 5.5 games. Thiem still looked really shaky on this surface last round, and the defensive pressure of Mannarino — and his ability to cover the court — will frustrate Domi. If Thiem expects to cover the 5.5 game spread, he’ll certainly have to up his second serve numbers. In his last match against Kudla, he won just 38%.
Head to Head: Thiem has owned Mannarino over the years, boasting a 6-0 H2H record with five of those wins coming on hard courts. However, three of those five HC wins came on SLOW hard courts: (last year’s) US Open, Acapulco and Miami. Fast conditions (which suit Mannarino) will give the Frenchman a prime opportunity to get off the snide.
Value with Mannarino, but I prefer the +5.5.
Martón Fucsovics (-625) vs. Nicolas Kicker
Prior to this tournament, Nick Kicker was ghastly on hard courts at the Tour level — claiming an 0-5 record and a combined hold/break percentage of just 58.9% (43.9% hold/15% break). I like Martón Fucsovics, who has looked formidable all week, to get through this match relatively stress free.
Head to Head: The two have met just once over the years, last week in Pune. It was one-way traffic for the Hungarian Fucsovics (6-0, 6-3).
Not much value here. If Kicker takes the first, it might present a decent spot to launch onto Fucsovics live at a price closer to even money.
Juan Martín del Potro (-133) vs. Tomáš Berdych
I’d expect Juan Martín del Potro to be priced a lot closer to -200 or -250 ahead of this match against Tomáš Berdych, but oddsmakers may be concerned with how tired JMDP looked toward the end of his last match.
If Delpo has enough left in his tank, he should get through the current version of Berdych. At this point in his career, Berdych doesn’t penetrate through the ball nearly as well as he once did — and del Potro should play this match on his own terms (dictating with the forehand). Something tells me this match won’t be as cut and dry as it appears to be on paper, though.
Head to Head: Del Potro leads the H2H 5-3, with a 2-2 record on hard courts. Del Potro won their last match convincingly, last year in Cincinnati under similar conditions.
Value with the favorite, Delpo, who I price closer to -225. I’m staying away from this one, though, as fatigue is a genuine concern.
Novak Djokovic (-833) vs. Albert Ramos
After struggling somewhat to get across the finish line in triple-digit heat last round vs. Gaël Monfils, former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic might have his hands full yet again in the third round. At points in his last match, Djokovic’s timing looked off. He made backhand errors that lacked his usual “feel,” and his overall body language appeared to show the effects of months off tour.
Unless Novak raises his level tonight (in a big way), he might struggle against the pusher Albert Ramos. Although Ramos doesn’t really have any offensive tools that will hurt Novak, his consistency (and ability to get a ton of balls back) will undoubtedly ask a number of questions from the still-rusty Djokovic. While I’m not ready to call for an upset of the six-time Australian Open-Champ, I think the +7.5 games looks lively.
Head to Head: Djokovic is 4-0 against Ramos and has never dropped a set against the Spaniard. Yet.
Value in the game spread for the underdog Ramos (+7.5), who I think finally takes a set against a rusty Novak.
Roger Federer (-1250) vs. Richard Gasquet
Head to Head: Roger Federer is 16-2 over the years against Richard Gasquet and has never lost to the Frenchman on a hard court (10-0)
The H2H tells a very telling tale, here. It’s priced right and I expect Fed to advance.
Angelique Kerber (-133) vs. Maria Sharapova
I like Angie Kerber in this one, mainly due to her fitness and form. In six matches since beating Lucie Šafářová in Sydney, Kerber has won 12 of 13 sets by an average score of 6-2.85 games. And she did so against stiff competition, too. In those six matches, she defeated the likes of Venus Williams, Dominika Cibulková, an IN-FORM Camila (GOATmila) Giorgi, Ashleigh Barty, A-L Friedsam and Donna Vekić.
Head to Head: Maria Sharapova leads the H2H 4-3, although Kerber has won the most recent two (2015 Stuttgart; 2014 Wimbledon). Sharapova leads the H2H on hard courts, too, 2-1, though Kerber had to retire from one of those matches with an injury (and they were all played over five years ago).
Hitters: Benneteau +215, Mannarino +5.5 games, Kerber -133
Feelin’ Lucky: Ramos +7.5 games
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