Best Bets Today | Australian Open Picks For Alcaraz vs Shang, Dimitrov vs Borges

Best Bets Today | Australian Open Picks For Alcaraz vs Shang, Dimitrov vs Borges article feature image

Shi Tang/Getty. Pictured: Carlos Alcaraz.

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Round three is coming to a close at the Australian Open and two heavy favorites are looking to book their expected spot in the fourth round.

Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz takes on China's rising star Juncheng Shang. Alcaraz's power meets Shang's baseline agility in a compelling duel. Meanwhile, Grigor Dimitrov faces Nuno Borges, where Dimitrov's experience and fiery start to the year challenge Borges' quest to establish himself in the ATP tour.

Read on for my analysis on these matches in my best bets today.

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Carlos Alcaraz (-5000) vs Juncheng Shang(+1400)

9:15 p.m. ET

It is the third round of a Grand Slam and we are looking at a matchup where the combined ages of these opponents is 38. Not much needs to be written about the 20-year old Spaniard as everyone knows his game by now. His powerful groundstrokes, lightning speed and Nadal-esque mentality combine to give him possibly the most complete package on tour. However, if you are not familiar with the 18-year old from China, you will be soon enough.

Shang has yet to break the top 100 and currently sits at a career high rank of 140. The lefty and former world number one junior is just beginning his breakout on tour and he is bound to be a top player soon enough. He plays a consistent yet powerful game from the baseline and moves around the court with remarkable fluidity. However, at just 18-years old and under 6 feet tall, he lacks a bit in the serve department.

Not seeing many free points when facing an opponent like Alcaraz makes things all the more difficult. It means that Shang is going to have to find ways to hang with the world number two from the baseline and do so consistently. Shang's baseline game can hang with high caliber opponents – note his three set match versus Rublev already this year – but Alcaraz is a different beast.

Alcaraz has not looked quite at his best so far this year. He dismissed Gasquet easily but that was not until after an extremely tight first set which appeared to leave Gasquet physically beat. Then Sonego put up an incredible fight, but to the Italian's credit, he was serving extremely well and keeping Alcaraz from dictating. Picking a side in this match is extremely difficult as Shang already has shown to ability to hang with the best, but without real weapons it is no easy feat to maintain over multiple sets.

But, I am going to trust Shang to keep a set close, finding a way to push Alcaraz possibly to a tiebreak and maybe even sneak out a set. Shang has a real chance to show the tennis world the goods he possesses and I believe he will in the spotlight. For that reason, I will lean towards the over.

Pick: Over 29.5 games (-120 via DraftKings)

Grigor Dimitrov (-1400) vs Nuno Borges (+750)

11:30 p.m. ET

Dimitrov is on fire. 7-0 to start 2024, the former world number three is not only looking like his old self, but a contender to lift the trophy in Melbourne. He has dropped a set in both of his first two matches here, but they were to a relentless Fucsovics and an Aussie supported Kokkinakis. Coming through both of those matches in four sets is very impressive. Dimitrov's neutralizing backhand slice paired with his powerful forehand is a nasty combination to face. The Bulgarian will be a dreaded opponent for anyone during this fortnight.

Borges picked up his career best win – by ranking standards – in dominant fashion over Davidovich Fokina. As a player who spent more time on the Challenger Tour last year, Borges is looking to become a mainstay on the ATP tour. To do so, he is going to have to improve his competition against higher ranked opponents, and last round was a great start. Even with that win, he is now only 4-15 in his career against top 50 opponents, and each of the wins came against your typical clay court players – Fokina being the most adept on hard courts. Diving a bit deeper, Borges has claimed one set over five matches to top 20 ranked opponents, and the rest of the sets were not particularly close.

Overall, Borges has struggled against the world's best and Dimitrov falls into that category with the way he opened up the new year. Fokina is a player susceptible to off days and I will say a combination of that and unfavorable court conditions for the Spaniard let to the surprising result.

Dimitrov is looking a lot more sturdy than Fokina.

This should be the easiest match yet for Dimitrov and I expect him to pick his way through it comfortably.

Pick: Dimitrov -6.5 games (-135 via DraftKings)

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