Betting Value on Day 9 at the Australian Open
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And, like that — with Hyeon Chung’s (+300) straight set victory over Novak Djokovic — we turn the page on the first week of the 2018 Australian Open.
It’s been a wacky tournament thus far, and a tricky one to cap. Most thought this tournament would be wide open (compared to years past) — but I’m not sure anybody expected a “Tennys–Sandgren-in-the-quarterfinals” type of wide open.
On the bright side, Grand Slams tend to play out like a tale of two different tournaments. And I expect some semblance of normalcy as we move toward the “business portion” of the tournament. Then again, as long as Tennys’ name is still floating around the field, I won’t rule anything out.
With two quarterfinal matches on the men’s side slated for tonight, let’s poke around for some value.
Grigor Dimitrov (-323) vs. Kyle Edmund
In our first QF match of the night, the World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov takes on Kyle “Nice Guy” Edmund — and I’m leaning Dimi pretty firmly.
As impressive as Edmund has looked this tournament, it would take his best effort (and then some) to get through Dimitrov in the quarterfinals. After two five-setters (against Kevin Anderson and Niko Basilashvili) and a physical 4R match against Andreas Seppi, I simply don’t think Edmund has enough left in the tank to test Dimitrov.
Aside from his 2R “hiccup” against Mackie McDonald, Dimitrov has asserted himself as one of the top dogs in this tournament; seemingly getting better by the match. In order for Edmund to come through this one, it would require some type of mental implosion from Dimitrov. And the Bulgarian is playing way too confidently for that right now.
From a style perspective, Edmund plays his best tennis when out in front dictating play with his big forehand and keeping points short. Dimitrov, a much better defender than he gets credit for, should get back enough balls to repeatedly ask Edmund questions from the baseline. While Edmund has a huge game off the ground, he tends to fatigue deeper in rallies (leading to unforced errors). Against a player as athletic (and skilled) as Dimitrov, these can pile up.
Ultimately — if Edmund is going to win this match — starting fast will be crucial. If the Brit finds himself down a set or two sets, I don’t think he’ll have the physical energy required to grind out a long match against the fitter, fresher, Dimitrov. The Bulgarian is playing at a super motivated (and confident) level right now. There’s no doubt he has a second consecutive Aussie Open SF in sight. He should get there in style.
Head to Head: Dimitrov leads the H2H 2-0. But both matches have gone the distance. Dimitrov beat Edmund earlier this year in Brisbane (similar conditions) 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 and last year in Washington DC (also similar quick outdoor-hard conditions) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Not much value at this price, but Dimitrov looks like a strong moneyline parlay piece. I just don’t see Grigor going down. If you fancy Edmund, I would look at a first set bet, as I could possibly see him stealing the first.
Rafa Nadal (-455) vs. Marin Čilić
There’s something about how “under the radar” Marin Čilić has gone throughout this tournament that should worry Rafa Nadal (and his backers).
Throughout the first four rounds, Čilić has served at an extremely efficient level. He has won 83.5% of his first serve points and fired 20-plus aces in three of his first four matches. In his last match against Pablo Carreño — one of the best defensive baseliners on tour — Čilić thrashed 73 winners. There are all positive signs for the big Croat.
Čilić has impressed me this tournament. He is moving forward and squeezing the court down instead of stagnating from a deep position (something I’ve criticized him for not doing in the past). If he can avoid getting into many long, strenuous, rallies with Nadal from the baseline — and cut down points at the net — he can play this match on his own terms. And when Čilić plays his best tennis — on his own terms — he’s virtually unbeatable.
In contrast, Nadal’s serve looked a bit vulnerable in his last match. Against little Diego Schwartzman (albeit, one of the best returners on tour), Nadal faced 18 break points, saving 15 of them. If he gives Čilić that many chances tonight, the Croat will make him pay. At the very least, I expect Čilić to take at least one set tonight, making the over (37 games) a tasty option if you don’t feel comfortable backing Čilić.
Head to Head: Nadal leads the H2H 5-1 and won their most recent match — last year in Shanghai (similar fast outdoor HC). While Rafa took that one in straights, it could’ve easily gone the other way. Nadal saved Čilić set points in that first set and took the second set in a tiebreaker.
Definite value on Čilić, here despite the fact that Nadal has dominated him in the past. Conditions on Laver should give Čilić a boost to his offensive game. I like Čilić +5.5 games.
Caroline Wozniacki (-480) should outclass Carla Suárez Navarro and move to 4-0 on hard courts in their head to head (5-2 overall currently). Although the last two on this surface have gone the distance. Given Elise Mertens’ form and Elina Svitolina’s past Slam struggles, Mertens definitely holds value at +310. However, I’m not in a rush to bet either match. We’ll just hope Wozniacki can keep advancing for our future. Pass.
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