Tuesday Hitters: Australian Open Day 3 Betting Value
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Well, Alex de Minaur didn’t have as much in the tank as we hoped last night. I thought he swung the match after winning the second set, but it just wasn’t in the cards (or legs) for the young Aussie. Nevertheless, gotta shake it off and look ahead to action on Day 3 at the Australian Open. Four matches on the men’s side kick off the action at 7:00 pm EST. Let’s dive in.
I don’t really see much of an edge in the match between Nikoloz Basilashvili (-107) and Ruben Bemelmans. Statistically, Basilashvili boasts superior hard court numbers in terms of combined hold/preak percentage (100.3% vs. Bemelmans’ 92.8%) and Tour level record (16-15 in 2017 vs. Bemelmans’ 4-4 in ‘17) — so perhaps you could make a case for Nikoloz, but I’ll pass.
Also at 7:00, big-serving Gilles Müller (-700) takes on Malek Jaziri. Muller has looked iffy since Wimbledon. I’m not sure his 10-11 main draw level deserves a -700 price tag, but I’m not rushing to back Jaziri.
Yoshi Nishioka (+127) caught my eye as an underdog against Andreas Seppi. If he feels up to it physically — an ACL injury sidelined him for most of 2017 — he will give the Italian headaches from behind the baseline. Nishioka looked solid in his 1R match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, and the aging Seppi could have heavy legs after winning a Challenger tournament last week. Seppi’s done well at the AO in the past, though, beating Nick Kyrgios in the second round last year, and knocking out Roger Federer and Marin Čilić here in 2015 and 2013, respectively. Still, the value sits with the underdog here in a coin flip match.
Two matches are scheduled for 8:30: Kyle Edmund (-222) vs. Denis Istomin and Jo Tsonga (-167) vs. Denis Shapovalov. Edmund’s level impressed me in his 1R match against Kevin Anderson, but it took a grueling five sets, and Istomin can produce high-level tennis on quicker surfaces. And in the Shap-Tsonga match, I lean the over (39.5 games) more than either side (I do like Tsonga), as I expect a marathon.
Following the Nishioka-Seppi contest, Dr. Ivo Karlovic will take on Yuichi Sugita (-167) on Court 8 — which Americans Jack Sock and John Isner described as “the fastest court they’ve ever played on” last year. This should benefit the massive first serve of Dr. Ivo. However, it could also aid Sugita, who has posted some of his best results on the quick-playing conditions of grass courts. Ivo had his serve working in his first round match against Laslo Đere, downing the Serb in straight sets. It wouldn’t shock me to see him advance another round with the help of Court 8.
Not before 9:00, we’ll find All American Journeyman Ryan Harrison (-154) battle Pablo Cuevas, and — at the moment — I lean Cuevas. Harrison has the better first (and second) serve, but Cuevas, who is more known for his clay game, should push Harrison around from the baseline. Harrison doesn’t hit his groundstrokes with much pace, so I doubt court conditions will play too quick for Cuevas. After seeing Harrison struggle for five sets against the baseline game of Dudi Sela, I think the Uruguayan has value at around +130.
Two players who shouldn’t have any issues tonight are Rafael Nadal (-3000) against Uncle Leo Mayer and Marin Čilić (-1000) against Joao Sousa. As for John Millman (-165) against Damir Džumhur, I think Džumhur is the better player, but his game has just looked… off… so far in 2018. This will be a “no-bet” for me, dawg (Randy Jackson voice). Džumhur tends to run white hot and ice cold — and if Millman can get the Aussie crowd behind him (which shouldn’t take much), Džumhur’s mental game could quickly deteriorate. Lean Millman, but if Džumhur comes with a focused effort, all bets are off, no pun intended.
In the late matches scheduled for after midnight, I have a slight inkling that Alexandr Dolgopolov (-208) may be due for a stinker against local favorite Matty Ebden, but that’s merely a hunch. Also, given the way little Diego Schwartzman (-356) has looked thus far in 2018, I wouldn’t be overly shocked if young gun Casper Ruud pulls off another upset. I’m keen on young Russian firecracker Andrey Rublev (-260) to advance another round in Melbourne, against the crafty Marcos Baghdatis. Elsewhere, I expect the two heavily priced favorites (Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios) to advance another round tonight.
Gilles Simon -126
Defensive baseliners Gillou Simon and Pablo Carreño-Busta clash for a spot in the third round. I favor the Frenchman Simon to come through, although it may take a while. I wouldn’t be surprised to see five sets.
Carreño-Busta hasn’t been in good form since his semifinal run at the US Open last year, and his unimpressive first-round victory over Jason Kubler was just his second victory since the USO. Simon, on the other hand, who came through his first-round match against Marius Copil in straight sets, has started off his 2018 season in fantastic form. Simon captured the title in Pune a few weeks back, marking his first ATP title since 2015. He took out the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut (with a very similar game to PCB), Marin Cilic, and Kevin Anderson en route to the crown.
The Australian Open has historically been Simon’s best Grand Slam. And given PCB’s 2-4 record lifetime here, I trust Gillou to advance to the 3R here for the ninth time in his career. Simon, who has compiled a 22-11 lifetime record in Melbourne, plays some of his best tennis in Australia. We’ll surely see a plethora of grueling rallies from behind the baseline, with each player picking their spots to counterpunch. However, I expect Simon — with the help of quick conditions in Melbourne — to have more success finding winners.
Even when Simon slumped over the past two years, he mainly struggled against players with bigger games who could hit through him. PCB, who also plays a defensive counterpunching game, simply does not possess the offensive weapons to consistently hurt Simon from behind the baseline. Additionally, Simon won the last hard court match they played (rather convincingly) on a similar fast-hard court in 2016 at Shanghai Masters by a score of 6-0 and 6-3.
I expect a battle, but give me the Frenchman, who I make closer to -150 against an out of form PCB.
Elise Mertens -111
Gavrilova will fight until the very last point in front of the Aussie crowd, but “Money Mertens” is just in too good of form. Elise, who just won a title in Hobart, simply gets results on hard courts; she’s 132-51 (72.13%) on the surface in her career. Mertens has too many tools for the pesky Aussie, who has only compiled a 10-13 career record at Slams. Elise should also take confidence from her victory over Gavrilova at the French Open last year on a surface that favors Dasha. Give me the more talented player in better form on a favorable surface at this cheap of a price.
Hitters: Gilles Simon -126, Elise Mertens -111