The 2013 Australian Open begins this evening and the big match in the men’s draw is surely Lleyton Hewitt against Janko Tipsarevic. It’s on at a pretty good time for UK viewers, beginning as it does as around 8am on Monday – surely a good reason to take the morning off work if you can get away with it.
This high profile pair are meeting for the fourth time in total, but the first since Tipsy has been ranked inside the top 40, so the 3-1 head-to-head lead that Hewitt currently owns is a touch misleading.
But what makes this match so intriguing is that - for the first time in seemingly quite a while - Rusty claims to be close to fully fit. He was impressive in landing the trophy in Kooyong, beating the likes of Juan Martin del Potro, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych.
That event is an exhibition of course, but confidence-wise we’ve already seen what an exhibition win over Novak Djokovic has done for Bernard Tomic, who now, for reasons best known to himself, now thinks he’s a world beater.
I don’t expect Hewitt to get as carried away, but it will be a much-needed boost. If he is fit then he should be able to live with Tipsarevic, who retired in Kooyong in his first match, perhaps to due to another bout of his infamous ‘sudden fatigue’. Much more likely, of course, is that after winning the event in Chennai last week, the Serb rocked up for his appearance money in Kooyong and decided to save himself for Melbourne.
The key to this match lies with the movement of Hewitt. If it’s as good as he says it is then Tipsy will have a tough time hitting through the Aussie on the slow/medium paced courts at Melbourne Park.
Tipsarevic has a pretty poor record in Melbourne also, with a best of the last-32 and for me the options are to back Hewitt – either outright at 2.28 or with a 1.5 sets start at 1.77. I’m going for the latter option, as this one could well go all the way.
Back Hewitt +1.5 sets to beat Tipsarevic at 1.77