Australian Open Picks & Predictions | Machac vs Khachanov, Van Assche vs Tsitsipas (Thursday, Jan. 18)

Australian Open Picks & Predictions | Machac vs Khachanov, Van Assche vs Tsitsipas (Thursday, Jan. 18) article feature image

Martin Keep/Getty. Pictured: Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Here is my analysis and Australian Open picks and predictions on Thursday, Jan. 18, including Machac vs Khachanov and Van Assche vs Tsitsipas.

We begin the third round of play in Melbourne, and with that the decisions become tougher as to where the best value on the card lies. I've picked out two live underdogs who I expect to have big days down under.

Let's get into how to bet these matches in my Australian Open predictions today.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing Australian Open matches.

Australian Open Picks & Predictions

Karen Khachanov (-160) vs Tomas Machac (+130)

7 p.m. ET

Fresh off the win of his career, it'd be fair to expect Tomas Machac to be in trouble in what's a clear let-down spot. With that being said, I don't think his third-round opponent is bringing nearly enough to the table to warrant all the love he's getting from oddsmakers.

I've long been a defender of Karen Khachanov, a player who seemed to get in his own way by having instant success on the ATP Tour and setting expectations very high for himself. While he's yet to reach the heights he did when he won the Paris Masters back in 2018 by taking down Novak Djokovic in the final, he's proven to be a very consistent threat in the Grand Slams and enters this one defending a wealth of points from last year's semifinal run at the Australian Open.

What followed next was a stellar season that was ultimately derailed by an injury in the summer. He returned to produce some decent results in the fall, but his level wasn't quite as high as what we'd grown accustomed to seeing over the past couple of years.

Khachanov's trajectory has continued into 2024, where he's looked very shaky in all three of his matches. He was totally out-played by Emil Ruusuvuori in Hong Kong, he dropped a set and nearly a lot more than that in the first round here against Daniel Altmaier, and he was pretty flat in what was a disappointing performance against qualifier Aleksandar Kovacevic last round.

I see Khachanov as a very vulnerable player at the moment, and on the other side of the net Machac is at the peak of his powers. He ended a breakthrough 2023 season in excellent fashion and has produced the very same tennis here in Australia that got him into the top 100 to begin with. His ability to create angles off the forehand wing should have Khachanov scrambling, and he should be able to successfully take time away from the Russian in rallies — something he loves to have.

I'd almost be inclined to make Machac the favorite in this match given the form of the two, so getting anything at plus money here is an excellent bet.

Pick: Machac ML (+150 via FanDuel)

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (-475) vs Luca Van Assche (+350)

11 p.m. ET

The French are making headlines at this year's Australian Open, and one of their best young prospects will step into the spotlight on Thursday against one of the best in the world in Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Greek's been dealing with some back issues that have limited his ability on serve so far this season, though last round against Jordan Thompson he seemed to find his form again in an impressive victory. Given the time on court, however, and the physical nature of the points, it's fair to question how he'll be feeling coming into this contest.

Luca Van Assche, meanwhile, is a player with magic in his racquet to go along with all-world cardio. The teenager has battled through back-to-back five-set matches, but his composure playing from behind along with his stamina has been admirable. He finished off World No. 28 Lorenzo Musetti with a final set bagel in the second round, and while at that stage of the match many may question how fit the opponent who lost was, the Italian produced a high level throughout. Van Assche simply dominated him from the back of the court, redirecting his backhand and playing unbelievable defense to flip points and make his opponent move around the court.

I think Tsitsipas is in for a real challenge here, and while I'll refrain from calling an outright upset with how good he looked to finish off Thompson, I don't believe this one will be totally straightforward.

Pick: Van Assche +5.5 games (-110)

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