Sunday Australian Open Odds, Picks: Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Vulnerable Spots (January 15)

Sunday Australian Open Odds, Picks: Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Vulnerable Spots (January 15) article feature image

Kelly Defina/Getty. Pictured: Rafael Nadal.

  • Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas take the court at the Australian Open on Sunday.
  • Carmine Carcieri breaks down his best picks for the two matches.
  • Read on for an analysis of the odds and bets to make.

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The first Grand Slam of the 2023 tennis season is here as we head down under for the Australian Open.

On the first day of play, I'm targeting two matches featuring highly-seeded players in Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Dive in below for Sunday Australian Open first round odds and picks.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing Australian Open matches.

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Sunday Australian Open Odds & Picks

Rafael Nadal (-300) vs. Jack Draper (+240)

10:30 p.m. ET

Casual tennis fans and bettors may not think much of this match between one of the all-time great tennis players, Rafael Nadal, and the 21-year-old Jack Draper, but this has to be considered one of the most interesting matches of the first round.

Despite being the No. 1 seed in this event, Nadal received a brutal draw as he faces a player in Draper who is on the cusp of having a breakout season.

The Brit reached the semifinals this week in Adelaide — beating Karen Khachanov, Tommy Paul and Lorenzo Sonego in the process — and showed flashes of greatness by making the quarterfinals at Montreal in 2022.

He has a strong serve, an aggressive forehand and is fearless when playing some of the best players in the world. Last year alone, Draper beat Taylor Fritz, Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime, and took Carlos Alcaraz to three sets in Basel.

It’s not all positives for Draper, though.

He has limited experience in general, but that’s especially the case in Grand Slams. He’s competed in the main draw in only three majors in his career, with his best finish coming last year at the US Open (third round). He’s also never played in the Australian Open main draw.

That brings fitness into question. But this play isn’t just about the Brit.

In fact, it might be more so about Nadal, who has far more fitness questions than Draper at this point in his career.

Nadal has played two matches this year, losing in three sets to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur at the United Cup. Those losses are excusable, even though they are normally matches Nadal wouldn’t have major issues in.

But dating back to last season, Nadal has had shaky results, sparking questions about whether he’s still a top player.

He performed poorly in the US Open, dropping sets to Rinky Hijikata and Fabio Fognini before losing to Frances Tiafoe. He also lost his opening matches in Masters 1000 events in Paris and Cincinnati.

It’s too early to say Nadal is no longer an elite player, but based on his recent results and the eye test, it’s fair to say that he isn’t even close to the player of old.

That — combined with my upside on Draper — leads me to believe this will be an extremely close match. Nadal could be going home early in a second straight major, so I’ll take Draper +4.5.

Pick: Jack Draper +4.5 games (-110 FanDuel)

Stefanos Tsitsipas (-575) vs. Quentin Halys (+430)

3 a.m. ET

Tsitsipas is a three-time semifinalist at the Australian Open and he’s currently 4-0 on the season following his performance at the United Cup.

Since joining forces with coach and former player Mark Philippoussis, Tsitsipas has become more aggressive with his tactics, coming to the net more often and being more offensive rather than getting stuck behind the baseline.

Philippoussis has also offered a buffer between Tsitsipas and his father, giving him a different perspective on his game plans and approaches.

That has paid dividends — for the most part.

Remember, Tsitsipas lost in the opening round of the US Open to Daniel Elahi Galan. He won just one game total in the first two sets, as Galan attacked his one-handed backhand on the fast courts in New York.

It’s fair to say that the Greek will be motivated to remedy that performance down under, and I don’t see him losing this match.

But I don’t need Halys to win — I’m just looking at the cover.

The Frenchman has performed at an extremely high level so far this season.

This past week in Auckland, Halys ran through Alex Molcan and Ben Shelton while playing Jenson Brooksby tightly.

The week before was even more impressive, as Halys took Novak Djokovic to two tiebreakers, forcing his opponent to say the Frenchmen performed like a “top 10 player.”

Djokovic. "Halys played like a top 10 player today. I feel good about my game".

— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 5, 2023

Halys has never made it further than a second round at a Grand Slam, but again, I don’t need him to pull the upset.

I’m confident enough in his serve and form that he’ll be able to take a set and keep things close against Tsitsipas while covering +5.5.

Pick: Halys +5.5 games (-115 via DraftKings)

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