Gael Monfils vs. Miomir Kecmanovic: Is an Aussie Open Stumble on the Cards? (Jan. 23)
Anadolu Agency/Getty. Pictured: Miomir Kecmanovic hits a forehand at the Australian Open.
Miomir Kecmanovic vs. Gael Monfils
|Time | TV||2:30 a.m. ET | ESPN+|
|Odds via FanDuel. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.|
Miomir Kecmanovic is in a position he couldn’t have imagined just a week ago as he’s watched his first-round opponent get deported from Australia and taken full advantage with a trip to the third round.
Is it possible this run could continue? Let’s get into why I don’t think it’s that far-fetched.
Kecmanovic Combining Talent With Hard Work
What a difference a year makes. Kecmanovic, a former No. 1 juniors player and Orange Bowl champion, has always had talent. His rise to the top 100 was fun to watch, as was his clean and calculated game. He managed to make it to the semifinals at Doha and rise all the way up to No. 38 in the world with some early-season wins in 2020, then the pandemic hit.
While Kecmanovic would return to win his first-ever ATP title in Kitzbhuel, the 22-year-old never quite found his footing in the restart. He went 17-27 across all levels in 2021 and got lost in what can only be described as a disaster of a year.
2022 has been different. It appears Kecmanovic has put in some serious work over the offseason, adding pop to his serve and forehand. He was unloading off of both wings in an impressive win over Lorenzo Sonego in the second round and he showed some great mental resolve.
Kecmanovic came back from fumbling away the second set by taking the third then surviving a drop in level to break back and take the match in four.
This is a player who’s entering the match with serious confidence and who has come through three straight matches against pesky opponents. The win over a very-in form Tommy Paul was almost more impressive than the Sonego match.
Monfils Solid But Not Perfect Thus Far
It’s always a tricky proposition to read the health and fitness of Gael Monfils. The world number 19 seems physically taxed in just about every set of every match he plays. He’s known for reaching down towards his foot after long points and taking an inordinate number of medical timeouts.
That’s why it’s hard to figure out if the Frenchman is indeed feeling the burden of two weeks of tennis on an aging body. Now 35, Monfils can’t hold up through a grueling ATP schedule he once could. Just last week, he was forced to retire from his match against Thiago Monteiro in Adelaide after being broken to start the third set, citing some sort of neck or shoulder issue.
A week later on Thursday, Monfils twisted his ankle against Cristian Garin in his first round match, giving back a break lead in the first set before rifling off five consecutive points to take a tiebreak he had no business winning.
It’s fair to say there’s just the slightest bit of concern when it comes to Monfils’ health, but it’s also worth noting that the Garin match never should have been particularly close. The Chilean is nowhere near the level of Monfils on a hardcourt, and the fact that Monfils was broken so often throughout the match is very telling.
Frankly, this line makes no sense. The two played an incredibly tight three-set match in Paris last year, and Kecmanovic is playing better tennis at the moment.
The Serbian has the game to really bother Monfils. He will work the Frenchman around the court by taking the ball early and taking time away from him. This is going to test the fitness of Monfils, which we come in asking questions of. If there’s even the slightest issue, Kecmanovic’s game should coax it out of him.
I’m backing Kecmanovic’s renewed confidence and beefed up game to take this match outright. He has an incredible amount of talent and seems to be putting it all together here in Melbourne.
Pick: Kecmanovic +5.5 Games, Kecmanovic +370 (0.5u)