Australian Open Predictions, Odds | Ruud vs Purcell, Shang vs Nagal

Australian Open Predictions, Odds | Ruud vs Purcell, Shang vs Nagal article feature image

Cameron Spencer/Getty. Pictured: Casper Ruud.

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Casper Ruud looks for revenge of his Cincinnati loss to Max Purcell while aiming for redemption in 2024. Juncheng Shang, after a resilient first-round victory and a promising start to 2024, faces Sumit Nagal, fresh from the biggest win of his career.

One day remains for players to book their spot in the third round at the Australian Open, and the stakes are growing.

Read on for my Australian Open predictions.

Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing Australian Open matches.

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Casper Ruud (-575) vs Max Purcell (+425)

8 p.m. ET

Ruud had a major drop off in 2023 and became a frequent candidate to be upset by lower ranked opponents. Beginning 2023 ranked third in the world, Ruud went an abysmal 18-13 against players ranked outside of the top 50. One of these losses came at the hands of Purcell in Cincinnati. However, I think 2024 is going to look much different for the Norwegian.

The serve and forehand combo is one that Ruud lives and dies by. When they are firing, it is near impossible to find your way back into the point against him. His forehand comes with such heavy topspin and depth and it can consistently keep his opponents on their back foot. His groundstrokes are some of the most powerful on tour, but they abandoned him last season. Now, Ruud has played nine sets and won each of them quite comfortably. He is looking like him old self despite playing on courts that do not suit his preference – faster and lower bouncing.

Purcell, on the other hand, is known for his excellent serve, return and volley skills, honed through his experience in doubles. He made an extraordinary run in singles last season and established himself as more than just a doubles player. The skills he brings over from the doubles court make him a unique and difficult opponent to face in singles. He is less of a baseline player and forces his opponents to find plenty of passing shots to make their way through his net game. Backed by the Australian crowd, facing Purcell will require adjustments in uncomfortable situations while dealing with relentless rooting against you to get by him here in Melbourne.

I will back Ruud to reestablish himself with the world's best this year and I think it will begin with a strong run at the Australian Open. After losing in the second round last year, he has no more points to defend at this tournament and will be stock piling each round from here on out. Ruud will turn the tables of their matchup last year and get through this in dominating fashion.

Pick: Ruud -2.5 sets (+140 via DraftKings)

Juncheng Shang (-260) vs Sumit Nagal (+210)

9:30 p.m. ET

Shang's win over Mackenzie McDonald in the first round was extremely impressive. Coming from a 1-2 set score, he adjusted phenomenally and held up strong in the fitness department. This adds to his terrific start to 2024 following a semi-final appearance in Hong Kong, where he pushed Rublev to a third set. The young star from China moves around the court fluidly and makes sure to use his lefty forehand to an advantage. He plays consistent tennis but packs the pop needed to hit winners.

Nagal comes into this match having achieved a remarkable win over the seeded player, Alexander Bublik. This victory not only was huge for Indian tennis, but also highlights Nagal's potential as a contender. However, there's a potential risk of a "hangover effect" following such a high-profile win, especially considering Bublik's inconsistent style that can sometimes result in gifting matches to opponents. Shang will play a polar opposite style of tennis than Bublik.

Shang's consistent and solid brand of tennis will ask all the questions of Nagal. He will have to find ways to either outmaneuver or hit though Shang and I simply don't see that happening. I think the Chinese player is better in all facets and pairing that with the need to follow up a career-changing win, Nagal will find himself in a tough position.

I believe Shang will move on without many issues.

Pick: Shang -4.5 games (-110 via DraftKings)

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