Best Bets for Aussie Open Qualifiers and ATP Sydney (Jan. 11)
Daniel Pockett/Getty Images. Pictured: Sebastian Baez hits a backhand at the ATP Melbourne Summer Set.
The tennis rolls on as the main draw of the Australian Open nears, but the focus on Tuesday is the continuation of the qualifying draw as well as the tour event in Sydney.
There are a number of enticing matchups, but I’m going to be focusing on a couple this evening, including the Fabio Fognini-Brandon Nakashima contest.
Read on for betting analysis of three matches, including my pick for each.
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Timofey Skatov (-135) vs. Dane Sweeny (+106)
6 p.m. ET, Australian Open Qualifier
After each player picked up an upset win in their first qualifying match, this second round presents a big opportunity for both Skatov and Sweeny.
It’s hard to hit from the ground better than the Kazakh did on Sunday. Facing a very solid hard court player in Hugo Grenier, Skatov was able to hit through the Frenchman to a high level. Though he didn’t play with much margin, he didn’t need it, as he was painting lines in a relentless manner.
Skatov isn’t known for his hard court prowess, playing just nine matches on the surface last year versus his 44 on clay. Nonetheless, he looked smooth as he could be on Sunday, and it’s difficult to imagine a severe drop in form to the point where Skatov isn’t comfortable.
He won’t have an easy task in Sweeny, who is a rising Aussie that is familiar and capable in his home conditions. The 20-year old doesn’t have the most imposing game, similar to Skatov, but he can grind and keep himself active in matches that aren’t progressing very well.
This match is likely to be decided at the baseline, and with the experience that Skatov has developed on the Challenger Tour, I’m comfortable going with him at a reasonable price. Skatov is composed under pressure, and I trust him playing the same tennis in a tiebreaker as he would at 40-0.
Cautiously back the Kazakh to get a play-in for the main draw.
Pick: Timofey Skatov -135 (bet to -140) via Caesars
Brandon Nakashima (-175) vs. Fabio Fognini (+138)
7 p.m. ET, Sydney International
The uber-talented Italian and the young American produced a high quality match towards the end of last season in San Diego, with Nakashima pulling out a 7-5 third set victory.
However, the stats behind the match as well as each player’s overall numbers on hard courts throughout the season paint a different picture in terms of this matchup.
On the year, Fognini had a .625 ace-to-double fault ratio, which pales in comparison to the 3.4 proportion that Nakashima enjoyed. In the match itself, Nakashima generated 14 break points while Fognini amassed just three. Nakashima also out-performed Fognini in hold percentage by over 11 percent in 2021.
There’s a solid chance that Fognini is in better form to open this year than he was in towards the end of the past season, but when you look at the metrics on the matchup, the opportunity to back Nakashima here really can’t be passed up.
Pick: Brandon Nakashima -2.5 games (-115) via Caesars
Lorenzo Sonego (-175) vs. Sebastian Baez (+140)
7 p.m. ET, Sydney International
The feisty Italian Sonego is a tough one to read at times. There have been occasions where he’s looked like he was about to break into being a household name (see: Rome 2021), and times where he’s looked really poor (see: Toronto 2021).
Sonego actually had a sub-.500 record on hard courts in 2021, but he picked up some impressive wins. What concerns me most about his result against Hugo Gaston, a three-set win, was that he actually served really well and still had to battle at the end.
Eight aces, a lone double fault and an 81 percent first serve win rate should power him past someone like Gaston, who isn’t too far off from Baez, but tight play in big moments limited him.
Though the Frenchman wasn’t able to punish Sonego, I get the feeling that Baez will. He’s another player that hasn’t played his best tennis on hard courts historically, but that’s partly because he’s spent a majority of his career, and especially 2021, dominating clay court Challenger events.
He’s displayed an impressive ability to transition his game to much faster courts at the Next Gen Finals in 2021 and thus far in 2022, competing well with every single player he’s faced, maybe outside of the mercurial talent Carlos Alcaraz.
If Baez can manage to consistently get Sonego’s first serve back into play, it’s going to force the Italian to really rely on his power, which can be erratic at times off of the ground.
At this number, I believe that there is enough margin to give Baez solid value.
Pick: Sebastian Baez (+140) via DraftKings
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