Australian Open Picks: Previews For Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Rinky Hijikata, Lloyd Harris vs Marton Fucsovics
Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Stefanos Tsitsipas.
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We are down to 64 at the Australian Open. For those who have battled through the devastating heat, they are rewarded with day-high temperatures over 20 degrees below the previous days.
Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on the young Australian Rinky Hijikata, while Lloyd Harris and Marton Fucsovics look to kick start healthier seasons.
Here are my picks and plays for these two intriguing matchups.
Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing Australian Open matches.
Australian Open Picks
Stefanos Tsitsipas (-2000) vs. Rinky Hijikata (+1000)
4:15 a.m. ET
Tsitsipas heads into the second round as a bigger favorite than he was in his opening match. Dispatching of Quentin Halys in straight sets, he took less than half of the time to advance in comparison to Hijikata’s 0-2 deficit comeback.
However, the Greek would be foolish to overlook his opponent tonight. Tsitsipas has developed a knack of struggling against opponents he should simply dominate in Slams. Look no further than his first round at the US Open last year where he lost to Daniel Elahi Galan in embarrassing fashion.
On the other side of the net, Hijikata picked up some invaluable experience at the same tournament. Facing Rafael Nadal in Arthur Ashe stadium, Hijikata did not shy away from the spotlight and even grabbed the first set over the all time great. Although he ranks outside of the top 150, he put both Nadal and Daniil Medvedev to the test in 2022.
Hijikata has the talent and firepower to apply some pressure on Tsitsipas. Join that with the encouragement from the crowd, and Hijikata will have an extra boost while Tsitsipas will have to attempt to drown out the noise.
The Australian should keep this match somewhat close and give the fans hope of a potential astronomical upset.
Picks: Hijikata +8.5 games (-130 via DraftKings) | Hijikata +2.5 sets (+150 via DraftKings)
Lloyd Harris (-125) vs. Marton Fucsovics (+105)
9:25 p.m. ET
Both players face similar narratives as they meet in round two. Harris played his first match this January since the French Open. After undergoing wrist surgery, he seems to have found his footing quickly. Fucsovics suffered an injury as well in 2022, but began his return just before the US Open.
Although at the Challenger level, Harris appeared in a final last week before outplaying Lorenzo Musetti in the opening round. Backed by his all-around solid game, Harris is a dangerous opponent. After allowing Musetti to level the ground from a 2-0 set lead, the underdog Harris showcased physical stamina and mental fortitude to pull through in a match tiebreaker.
Unlike Harris, Fucsovics was heavily favored to breeze through his opening match. But, the marathon man once again found himself in a grueling five-set battle before powering through. The Hungarian has been underwhelming to say the least since his return from injury.
He finally found some form after dropping to the Challenger Tour and picking up two titles there since November. Fucsovics’ physicality and mindset make him a nightmare opponent in the best-of-five format.
I have been much more impressed with the form of Harris post-injury, even with significantly less time on the court. Since we are only in the second round, I expect him to physically hold up after his lengthy battle and final appearance last week. If he does, I think his current level is superior to Fucsovics.
Pick: Lloyd Harris ML (-125 via DraftKings)