Taylor Fritz vs. Frances Tiafoe Odds, Preview & Time: Analysis of the All-American Battle (Jan. 19)
Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty. Pictured: Frances Tiafoe hits a backhand against Marco Trungelliti at the Australian Open.
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Taylor Fritz vs. Frances Tiafoe
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
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At the end of 2021, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe were the two most in-form American men on tour.
They’ll be duking it out for a place in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday evening when they take the court.
Fritz enters the matchup after a three-set victory over Maximillian Marterer. While that sounds like it was a straightforward match, that wasn’t the case, as Fritz battled through an intense first set to find a 10-8 tiebreaker victory. He was able to find his level from there and take control of the match.
Tiafoe had an even grittier time, getting past the uber-tough Marco Trungelliti in five sets to reach the second round. A 40% second-serve win rate limited the 2021 Vienna finalist, who generated 12 break points but was only able to convert four of them.
Because the Argentine was able to win half of his six break attempts, the final scoreline is probably closer than it should have been, but Tiafoe really was given all that he could handle.
He’s facing a stiffer task in Fritz, who has already gotten off to a fast start in his 2022 campaign with wins over Cameron Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime at the ATP Cup to go along with his first round Aussie Open win.
Despite the duo’s success on tour, they haven’t met since the 2019 Paris Masters, when each player was in a significantly different period of their young careers.
Since that tournament, Fritz and Tiafoe have gone on to climb up to 22 and 29 in the world, respectively, and become rising stars on tour. In all reality, they’re the two Americans that were most due to face each other, and this is an excellent chance to see the matchup.
A new staple of Fritz’s game is an incredibly reliable and effective serve, which has allowed him to take significant pressure off of his service games. While he’s always been impactful behind his big serve (he won 84% of his service games in 2019 and 83% in 2021), it appears that Fritz may be reaching a new level.
At the ATP Cup, Fritz combined for 32 aces against just three double faults, and against Marterer that ratio was 16 to zero. That type of reliability can truly change a player’s mentality and confidence on court.
Though Tiafoe closed 2021 by playing downright electrifying tennis, he started 2022 with a whimper, losing in first rounds of both Adelaide warm up events that he played prior to the Open. With that being said, he ran up against a red-hot player in Thanassi Kokkinakis and an in-form Tommy Paul, so it’s hard to get on him too much.
In my opinion, the value with this match doesn’t come on the pre-match line, which is set fairly well, but rather with possible live opportunities.
Considering the form of each player, about a 50-point gap in hard court Elo rating and the confidence that Fritz has on serve, a -270/+215 split is fair. The no-vig implied probability of about 70 percent towards Fritz is an accurate one, but these are two players that are more than capable of fighting back in matches.
In the past 52-weeks, both Fritz and Tiafoe have been effective in getting themselves out of deficits better than most players on tour. Tiafoe’s 37.5 percent winning percentage after losing the first set in that span is good for eighth on tour, while Fritz’s 29.6 percent rate is 22nd.
After winning the first set, however, Fritz has been significantly better in the past year. His 87.5 percent winning percentage is 22nd on tour, but it’s even more impressive when considering the volume he’s done it with (28-4). Tiafoe’s 68.8 percentage and 22-10 record is good for only 66th.
This is a grand slam, which means best of five and even more opportunities to get back into a match, so it’s obviously context-dependent, but there are target numbers where I would pull the trigger on each player down a set.
If you can get Fritz at +250 or better down a set, that would be positive expected value in my estimation against a 28.6 percent implied win probability. If you can land Tiafoe at +450 or better, that would be worthwhile against an 18.2 percent implied probability.
Let’s see if the trend of fighting back continues for either player.
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