Friday Australian Open Odds, Picks: Best Bets For Popyrin vs Shelton, Rune vs Humbert

Friday Australian Open Odds, Picks: Best Bets For Popyrin vs Shelton, Rune vs Humbert article feature image

Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Alexei Popyrin.

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The third round of the Australian Open continues on Friday evening.

While Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will take the spotlight in their respective matches, I have two under-the-radar plays I'm targeting.

So, let's dive in with the latest Friday Australian Open odds and picks.

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Friday Australian Open Odds & Picks

Alexei Popyrin (-130) vs. Ben Shelton (+105)

3 a.m. ET

I’ll start this play by saying this about Ben Shelton: the American is going to be a fixture on the ATP Tour for years to come.

The 6-foot-4 20-year old won the men’s singles title in the 2022 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships and led Florida to a national title. His serve is top notch and his heart and mental toughness are even stronger, especially for a player at his age.

Reaching the third round in Melbourne is already a great accomplishment for the youngster, but I’m going to fade him in this spot.

Shelton is not only playing in just his second main draw in a Grand Slam, but he’s facing Alexei Popyrin in enemy territory.

In fact, this is the first time he’s even been out of the United States in his life.

I’ve never even been outside the country for vacation 😂 used my passport for the first time 2 days ago…

— Ben Shelton (@BenShelton) December 29, 2022

I normally don’t like backing players coming off long five-set matches and/or a massive upset victory, which Popyrin had against Taylor Fritz in the second round.

However, this a spot I feel comfortable doing so based on crowd support, the Aussie having an experience advantage and the fact that these two players want to win points quickly with their serves and first balls.

Popyrin has also been in solid form to start this new season, reaching the quarterfinals in Adelaide while beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the process. His serve is really cooking, as Fritz was only able to muster two break point opportunities.

And with the draw in front of Popyrin looking fairly clean (the winner of this match will face the winner of J.J. Wolf vs. Michael Mmoh), I expect him to capitalize on the chance of a lifetime in his home country.

Pick: Popyrin ML (-130 via DraftKings)

Holger Rune (-420) vs. Ugo Humbert (+320)

9 p.m. ET

Holger Rune was named the 2022 Newcomer of the Year on the ATP Tour, and the Dane has carried over the momentum from late last season into the first major of the 2023 campaign.

Rune hasn’t dropped a set in Melbourne, cruising through Filip Krajinovic and Maxime Cressy in the opening two rounds.

I’m not jumping off the train in this one.

I expect Rune to win in three straight sets against Ugo Humbert, and I expect it to be another cruise control-type of match for the Dane.

The history certainly points to that result, as Rune defeated Humbert in straight sets in their only two meetings. Both came on hard courts, and both came on fairly large stages — a 500-event in Basel and a Masters 1000-event in Indian Wells.

Humbert hasn’t exactly faced strong competition in the opening two rounds of this event, too. He dueled a gassed Richard Gasquet, who played a long week of tennis in Auckland before the Aussie Open. Then, he battled lucky loser Denis Kudla, who stepped in for the injured Nick Kyrgios.

The Frenchman’s best surface is grass, as his Elo Rating on hard courts is just 91. He’s also never had a main draw victory at the Australian Open before this year.

Rune has the intangibles advantage, too.

Despite being just 19 years of age, Rune could be right up there with Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner as the next group of stars once Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal retire.

The next step for him is to perform successfully in the majors. And that motivation should be on the back of his mind in this match — and moving forward — which certainly factors into this play.

Since the juice on the spread of -5.5 is a little too much for my liking, I'll go with the under of 36.5 games. I will also sprinkle some on Rune to win 3-0.

Pick: Under 36.5 (-110 via DraftKings)

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