Australian Open Predictions Today | Mannarino vs Shelton, Korda vs Rublev (Thursday, Jan. 18)

Australian Open Predictions Today | Mannarino vs Shelton, Korda vs Rublev (Thursday, Jan. 18) article feature image

William West/Getty. Pictured: Ben Shelton.

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Here is my analysis and Australian Open predictions on Thursday, Jan. 18, including Mannarino vs Shelton and Korda vs Rublev.

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 a favorite I feel isn't being treated with enough respect and a total that should find its way home.

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 Predictions Today

Ben Shelton (-255) vs Adrian Mannarino (+205)

11 p.m. ET

All eyes will be on Ben Shelton as we approach the night session in Melbourne, as the American is just a win away from setting up what will all but certainly be a rematch of the 2023 US Open semifinal against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. While Shelton is a deserving favorite here, however, I don't think this match will be all that straightforward.

The upstart American will be up against pesky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who centers his game around excellent defensive skills and rally tolerance. We've seen some of the bigger hitters on tour simply blast him off the court, and while Shelton certainly constitutes as one of those I think there are some valid concerns about his game at the moment.

Shelton's skills from the baseline simply haven't been at the level they were at the US Open last year, and his returning ability — which was what really held him back from more success in 2023 — has seemed to revert to what we saw for most of last season.

Mannarino was a player who gave Shelton trouble last year, taking him out in a three-set clash at the Miami Masters, and with Shelton's level just not quite up to snuff I think the over is very much in play here. I just don't think he's sharp enough on return to run away with any of these sets, and if he does win it'll likely be in four tight stanzas featuring at least one tiebreak.

Pick: Over 38.5 games (-115)

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Andrey Rublev (-235) vs Sebastian Korda (+190)

5 a.m. ET

From one American to another, Sebastian Korda still has a lot to prove here in Melbourne. A year ago, we saw the youngster take out Daniil Medvedev and produce some of the best tennis of his career. This season, he's looked flat and disengaged at times, lacking the fighting spirit required to reach the highest levels of the game.

He dropped a 2-0 lead in the first round against qualifier Vit Kopriva and briefly fell behind in the fifth set, continuing to lack the ability to return serve and boss rallies with his backhand. He did get a quick win in three sets over Quentin Halys in the second round, but if you watched that match you'd know Korda needed to do very little once he got the ball back into play. Halys simply wasn't moving out there, relying on his serve-plus-one to get him points, and most ended in pretty uneventful fashion with Korda flipping a short-angle winner into court.

That's not the type of player you want to play to get you ready for Andrey Rublev, particularly given Korda entered the Australian Open off the back of a couple flat matches in Adelaide. Rublev, meanwhile, flew through a good field in Hong Kong and has been incredibly impressive on serve throughout the month of January.

With Korda struggling in return games, I think this is about as bad of a matchup as he could possibly run into. He's never done as much as take a set off of Rublev in their two meetings, and it's fair to say he was playing better tennis heading into those encounters as he is right now.

I don't think Korda's headed for a down year quite yet, but he's started 2024 in concerning fashion and should fall victim to a brutal draw here when he takes on Rublev. I expect a fairly one-sided affair.

Pick: Rublev -3.5 games (-120)

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