Round three of the men’s singles at the Australian Open 2016 gets underway on Friday at Melbourne Park, with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in action.
Thursday was a decent day of men’s tennis betting, with both the ‘sure thing’ and the ‘value bet’ landing comfortably and we were within about 15 minutes of the ‘long shot’ winning too.
Andrey Kuznetsov proved to be great value as a 2.48 underdog, with the Russian beating Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, while Steve Johnson -1.5 set backers would also have enjoyed a very comfortable odds-against win.
But Lleyton Hewitt lasted only 154 minutes – 14 minutes short of the overs – against David Ferrer in the Aussie’s last ever match. Had he made it to 5-5 in the third set that wager would surely have also landed, but it wasn’t to be.
Marin Cilic vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
I think it’s worth taking on a slightly bigger price for the ‘sure thing’ wager on Friday, with this 07:00 UK time clash between Cilic and RBA looking a likely win for the Croatian.
Bautista-Agut has endured a punishing schedule in the last fortnight, with 21 sets of tennis played between January 12 and now, and that includes two five set matches in his opening rounds here in Melbourne.
Even the super-fit Spaniard can’t keep going to the well time and again and this third career clash with Cilic looks a step too far for RBA.
Cilic has played only seven sets since January 8 and will surely have much more left in the tank than his opponent, against whom the former US Open champion is yet to drop a set.
Both priors were in the final of Moscow in 2014 and 2015 on indoor hard and the result was 6-4, 6-4 both times and Cilic has too many weapons in these conditions for a fatigued Bautista-Agut.
I’d expect Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has a 12-1 record in majors against Frenchmen (he last lost to one in 2007) to ease past Pierre-Hugues Herbert and the over 0.5 tie breaks and over 9.5 games in set one appeal there.
And Kei Nishikori should have too many guns for Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but it could be tricky for a spell if GGL turns it on and the 3-1 to Nishikori is decent in that one at 3.45 as an alternative ‘long shot’.
Federico Delbonis vs Gilles Simon
Talking of fatigued players, we have another two here who endured five setters in the previous round, with Gillou taking just over four hours to get past Evgeny Donskoy, while Delbonis was on court for 15 minutes longer against Renzo Olivo.
Simon, with his passive playing style, is very much used to going long in majors, but it doesn’t help him one bit and as he ages (he’ll be 32 later this year) his ability to keep grinding diminishes.
He should beat Delbonis on a pacy outdoor hard court, but unless the Argentine is too fatigued to compete – and he shouldn’t be, as he played only two sets in round one – this might be tough again for the Frenchman.
Looking at Simon’s record in Melbourne we find that in his last 17 matches at the Open only twice has he won in straight sets – against Marcel Granollers and Robin Haase – and Gillou has struggled in the match-up with Delbonis so far.
In three prior meetings (two on clay and one on hard) Delbonis leads the series 2-1 and even at the US Open of 2014 Simon failed to win in straight sets.
Simon has dropped sets here to Pippo Volandri, Jesse Levine and Danai Udomchoke in recent years and the +2.5 sets on Delbonis at 1.81 looks a far better bet than the 1.12 on Simon outright.
Novak Djokovic vs Andreas Seppi
This 08:00 UK time clash between the world number one and the Italian 28th seed has been written off as a cert for Djokovic by the layers, who rate him as a 1.01 chance to progress.
But the Serb has lost nine times in his career as a 1.01 to 1.10 chance, the most recent being to Ivo Karlovic in Doha a year ago, with the only loss at that price in a major coming in 2009 to Philipp Kohslchreiber.
Seppi is highly unlikely to become the second man to achieve that feat , but not many fancied him to beat Roger Federer here last year and we all know what happened then.
Conditions in Melbourne clearly suit Seppi and if he serves somewhere near his best the over 30.5 games at 3.30 or the over 0.5 tie breaks at 3.80 look viable long shots.
Seppi and Djokovic met at the US Open last season when the Italian held his own in a 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 loss and I don’t see this being a cakewalk for Novak, despite the 12-0 head-to-head.
Federer had won 10 in a row against Seppi before losing to him here last year and that result alone shows how good Seppi can be if he finds his best level.
At his best Novak will be too good, but the Serb dropped sets against Bautista-Agut and Feli Lopez in New York and two to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon last season, while Quentin Halys took him to a breaker two days ago here.
It sometimes takes Seppi a little while to warm-up in matches, but if he starts well this could easily be closer than a 3-0 stroll for the defending champion.
Sure thing: Back Cilic to beat Bautista-Agut at 1.41
Value bet: Back Delbonis +2.5 sets at 1.81
Long shot: Back over 30.5 games in Djokovic/Seppi at 3.30