Monday Australian Open Picks | Djokovic vs Fritz, Sinner vs Rublev (Monday, Jan. 22)

Monday Australian Open Picks | Djokovic vs Fritz, Sinner vs Rublev (Monday, Jan. 22) article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty. Pictured: Taylor Fritz and Novak Djokovic.

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Here are my Monday Australian Open picks, including Djokovic vs Fritz and Sinner vs Rublev.

We've entered the exciting home stretch of this year's Australian Open, and on Monday three players will be attempting to break through to the semifinal stage of a Grand Slam for the first time in their careers.

Let's get into how to bet these matches.

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Monday Australian Open Picks

Novak Djokovic (-1000) vs Taylor Fritz (+600)

 10:30 p.m. ET

The first quarterfinal of the day will feature a matchup between nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and American Taylor Fritz, who has never had much success against the World No. 1 in his career.

Fritz has failed to do as much as win a set in seven of the eight previous meetings between these two, all of which have gone the way of Djokovic. With that said, I think Monday's match promises to be a bit different.

We've never seen Fritz look as calm and focused in a big match at a major tournament as he was on Saturday when he took out Stefanos Tsitsipas to earn his first victory over a top-1o player at a Grand Slam. He entered with confidence, limiting errors and playing clean tennis from the back of the court. Coming off of such an impressive win, the time seems right to back Fritz to take a set off of Djokovic for just the second time in his career.

The two were engaged in a pretty back-and-forth battle at last year's US Open, when Fritz seemed to succumb to the pressure of playing in a home slam and never managed to gain much footing. With that said, he was able to break serve twice in the match and brought up a total of 12 break points in the match, briefly getting back on serve in the first and producing some chances to do so in the second. He was able to push the Serb, but breaking through to take a lead in any of the sets proved to be too much to handle in a match where Fritz simply looked stressed.

That's what Djokovic can do to his opponents, and there's certainly a chance he does so again on Monday. I still think Fritz is as close to finally giving Djokovic a match than he's ever been in his career, and given the way the head-to-head has gone — and the fact that Djokovic is the one arguably playing a home match with his historic success at the Australian Open —  there should be absolutely no pressure on the American here.

With no expectations on him of winning, I expect Fritz to come out here and swing as free as he did against Tsitsipas and nick a set off of Djokovic. It should also be said that the World No. 1 has been exhibiting some incredibly strange energy over the past week, and that follows a couple of months of tennis which featured some upsets at the hands of Jannik Sinner and Alex de Minaur. He was in for a tough encounter when he faced the big-hitting Alexei Popyrin, and he has found life much easier playing some backboards in the past two rounds. Fritz is indeed a big hitter, so the recent success Djokovic has found in the last two rounds isn't of the greatest concern for me.

I expect Fritz to play his game, which should be good enough for a set.

Pick: Fritz +2.5 sets (+100)

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Jannik Sinner (-450) vs Andrey Rublev (+325)

4:30 a.m. ET

The second quarterfinal of the day should be a highly-entertaining encounter between two ball-bashers when Jannik Sinner meets Andrey Rublev for the seventh time in their careers. While the record may officially stand at 4-2 to Rublev, however, those two wins came via retirement — and they came at least two years ago.

I fully expect Sinner to come out and win this match, given the incredibly high level we saw against Karen Khachanov, but with the way Andrey Rublev has served and stolen points with forehand winners, I do think this one could be a little more complicated for Sinner even if it's only a three or four set match.

Rublev has been absolutely bossing with his serve, and I expect that to be enough to keep this encounter pretty close. As is always the case in this sport, though, it's always a tough decision picking between the game spread with the underdog or the over on games. I'm going to opt for the latter, since I expect Rublev to win a set here, but the chances that Sinner runs away with this one late are quite high given Rublev was dealing with some fatigue at the end of his five-set battle against de Minaur last round and began to cramp late.

With all the running he did, it's fair to question if he's got what it takes to go the distance here, so I could certainly envision a scenario where Rublev plays Sinner closely but doesn't manage to cover. Almost every match contested between these two has been incredibly close, so there's no reason to believe this will be any different.

Pick: Over 37.5 games (-110)

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