The men’s third round matches complete in Melbourne on Saturday, with Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer all trying to make it through to the second week of the Australian Open today.
Friday was a decent day’s tennis betting at Melbourne Park, with ‘sure thing’ Bernard Tomic and ‘value bet’ Nick Kyrgios on the handicap both winning reasonably comfortably.
Tomic simply had to return serve effectively to beat Sam Groth, while Kyrgios was also a straight sets winner over Malek Jaziri, who was predictably below par after his previous five setter.
Those on the 2.75 about Kevin Anderson would have enjoyed a straight sets winner with the South African over Richard Gasquet, but the double went down when Viktor Troicki failed to take the one set required against Tomas Berdych.
I didn’t give Andreas Seppi much of a chance against Roger Federer – as you wouldn’t after 10 losses from 10 against the Swiss – but the Italian held his nerve for once and took down the Swiss in four.
Saturday’s ‘sure thing’ has to a treble and it looks a solid one at around 1.25, with Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori the men to bring it home.
Wawrinka shouldn’t be overly troubled by the fading Finn Jarkko Nieminen, who has a career record of 1-34 against top-five ranked opposition, such as Wawrinka.
The 3-0 to Wawrinka is also of interest in that one at around the 1.60 mark, but Stan can go walkabout in matches and it’s a bit of a risk.
Raonic is facing Benjamin Becker, who had to come all the way back from two sets down to Lleyton Hewitt in round two and that will have taken a fair bit from the legs of the 33-year-old.
Becker has lost his last 11 against top-10 ranked opponents going back three years and despite having a decent serve of his own the German doesn’t enjoy facing big servers much himself, as his record against Ivo Karlovic shows.
Nishikori is more than capable of exposing the questionable backhand side of Steve Johnson, as he’s done twice in the last six months or so, and unless there’s injury or illness it’s hard to see any of the three losing.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs Vasek Pospisil
GGL is favourite for this one based on the conditioning of Pospisil, which isn’t very good at all, as his retirement in doubles highlights.
Pospisil was just about good enough to beat Paulo Lorenzi in four sets, but that sort of level won’t get it done against GGL, who will be fit and ready after two fairly quick matches so far.
The Canadian lasted just three games in the doubles yesterday and bearing in mind this is a Grand Slam doubles champion we’re talking about I doubt he’d do that lightly.
It’s a great chance for GGL to make progress here and the Spaniard, although shorter than he would normally be for this match, looks a decent bet in these circumstances.
Novak Djokovic vs Fernando Verdasco
When one thinks of Verdasco, one’s mind can’t help but drift back to the epic semi final with a peak Rafa Nadal here back in 2009.
That was one of the greatest matches I ever saw and although the Spaniard is very rarely at that sort of level these days he does have a decent chance of making Djokovic work reasonably hard here.
Verdasco has troubled the Serb several times over the years, with their most recent meeting being a deciding set win for Djokovic at the China Open just over a year ago.
In these pacy conditions the kind of power that Verdasco possesses can worry even the best in the world and if he’s on his game this may be tougher for Djokovic than his match odds of 1.02 suggest.
Djokovic hasn't been tested at all here so far and a peak form Verdasco would be a huge step up from Aljaz Bedene and Andrey Kuznetsov and while I expect Novak to rise to the challenge there's an opportunity for the man from Madrid to nab a set here at least, with the 3-1 to Novak looking a likely result.
Sure thing: Back Nishikori, Raonic and Wawrinka in a treble at 1.25
Value bet: Back Garcia-Lopez to beat Pospisil at 1.68
Long shot: Back Djokovic to beat Verdasco 3-1 at 4.40