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Australian Open Picks, Predictions: Previews For Rublev vs Thiem, Shelton vs Zhang

Australian Open Picks, Predictions: Previews For Rublev vs Thiem, Shelton vs Zhang article feature image
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Sopa Images/Getty. Pictured: Dominic Thiem.

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Grand Slam tennis is fully underway. With a few five setters and some thrilling comebacks on Sunday, more thrilling tennis is on the horizon today.

Andrey Rublev battles Dominic Thiem and Ben Shelton takes on Zhizhen Zhang, and I’ll break down why I think these two matches will be eye-catchers.

Read on for my picks and predictions.

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

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Australian Open Picks & Predictions

Andrey Rublev (-360) vs. Dominic Thiem (+275)

7 p.m. ET

Likely the most interesting clash in the first round, the hard-hitting Rublev battles Thiem on his journey back to the top. A matchup that would not be seen until the quarterfinals in the past, both players will not fancy the difficulty of their first round.

Rublev has had a slow start to the year. Bowing out first round in consecutive Adelaide tournaments, the World No. 6 is in need of locating his rhythm. Possessing one of the most powerful forehands on tour, Rublev looks to hit through any opponent.

Thiem’s journey back from injury has been a long one, but his progress is evident. He fought and beat world class opponents towards the end of last season, and the break may be exactly what he needed to fine tune things and bounce back in 2023.

Rublev won the last eight sets between the two, including a 6-4 6-4 win in Gijon, but the stakes are much higher here at a Slam. In a best of five format, it takes all the focus and mental fortitude you have to send Thiem home.

Although Rublev should win this match, Thiem will not go easily. Expect Rublev to have periods where his rhythm is slightly off and for Thiem to take advantage. This hard fought battle should be a good one for the fans.

Pick: Over 37.5 Games (-120 via DraftKings)

Ben Shelton (-225) vs. Zhizhen Zhang (+185)

9 p.m. ET

The exciting American battles part of the Chinese next-gen of tennis. Shelton won the NCAA tennis tournament and quickly transitioned to the Tour.

He’s risen from a ranking in the mid 500’s to currently residing in the top 100. Shelton’s cannon lefty serve has struck fear into opponents and he has proven himself well already. Zhang dominated the Challenger Tour in 2022 and began making an impact on the ATP Tour late last year.

Both these players are looking for their first main draw Slam victory. After both fell in five-set matches at the US Open (one where Zhang watched multiple match points come and go), their hunger for a win here will be at a maximum.

With two big serves on the court, we will see a lot of free points, but their ability to stay cool when the pressure moments come will be the difference.

Shelton has loved the big stage so far in his career, but he finds himself playing outside of the United States, something he has rarely done. This is the perfect recipe for an extended match.

Expect this one to soar over the total, and I believe the fans may get to witness a five-set thriller.

Picks: Over 38.5 Games (-120 via DraftKings) | Over 4.5 sets (+295 via DraftKings)

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