The second round of matches in the men’s singles at the 2016 Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne on Wednesday, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer the star turns today.
We managed to get two winners from our three bets on Tuesday, with the over games coming in before the retirement of Kevin Anderson in his match against Rajeev Ram and the ‘sure thing’ double also successful.
There was no joy with the long shot on a day mainly for favourite backers, with the exception of Fernando Verdasco’s win over Rafa Nadal and Ram’s retirement win over Anderson – both of whom were nice prices.
And it looks like it could be a similar story on Wednesday, with little to get excited about for value seekers on a day that features no fewer than 11 favourites priced at 1.15 or shorter from 16 matches.
So, according to the layers only five matches might be vaguely competitive on a day where rain is expected in Melbourne and delays likely.
Marin Cilic vs Albert Ramos
The former US Open champion gave us a few nervous moments in round one before eventually coming through in four sets against a typically chokey Thiemo De Bakker, but he’s worth siding with again here.
Ramos is no mug on hard courts, as his win over Roger Federer in Shanghai last season showed, but he doesn’t fare well in Australia and with Cilic having such a fine record against lefties he looks one of the better short-priced favourites for Wednesday.
Cilic has won 71 percent of his matches against left-handers (Federer has only won 75 percent as a comparison) and the strong backhand wing of the Croat has much to do with his success.
He’ll need to improve on the De Bakker match level of performance, but much of that may have been to do with the extreme heat, as he admitted afterwards, saying: “It was very hot, 35-36 degrees, it is annoying to play in such conditions.”
It shouldn’t be too hot for him on Wednesday and if we add Gilles Simon into the mix we have a viable 1.28 ‘sure thing’ for the day.
Simon was under something of an injury cloud ahead of Melbourne, with losses to Feli Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta in Kooyong put down to an abdominal problem, but he seemed fine in an opening round win over Vasek Pospisil.
Gillou has a stellar record of 41-3 at main level when priced as a 1.10 to 1.20 favourite and he’s never lost one at a major in that price bracket.
Opponent Evgeny Donskoy doesn’t have the weapons to hit through Simon and unless an injury plays its part it seems unlikely that the Russian will outlast the master counter-puncher.
The Russian has a 0-10 record against top-20 opponents such as Simon and he’s yet to win a set from such opposition in a Grand Slam.
Dominic Thiem vs Nicolas Almagro
This 02:00 UK time clash on Court 6 between two fine exponents of the single-handed backhand could very well be one of the matches of the day and I fancy it to be a bit of a battle.
Thiem has been in good form so far in 2016 and at the end of 2015, but he wasn’t overly enamoured with his performance against another single-handed clay courter in Leo Mayer in round one.
It took the Austrian four sets and a couple of tie breaks to overcome an off-form Mayer and in quick conditions the power of Almagro will surely have its moments here now that Nico seems back to some sort of form.
Recently married and with a new racquet and change of coach for 2016 we saw some of the best of Almagro in round one when he walloped down 38 aces and didn’t face a break point against Julien Benneteau.
Injuries have blighted the progress of the former world number nine in recent times and he hasn’t seemed up for the fight to get back to the higher echelons of the game, but perhaps this is the start of better things for Almagro.
This looks like it could go long and the over 39.5 games and over 161.5 total minutes look the ones in this first clash between the Austrian and the Spaniard.
Both can serve very big and over 9.5 games in set one looks very likely too, but I like the idea that this match will take as long, if not longer, than the Mayer match.
Daniel Brands vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
There are certainly plenty of big-priced options to choose from on Wednesday for long shot punters and I think the best of the underdogs could prove to be Brands.
The big German has struggled with his health in the last couple of seasons, but when he is fit his game can be too big for some, and GGL’s 7-14 record on outdoor hard against the big servers on my list makes him a candidate for a possible loss here.
Brands sent down 17 aces and hit 56 winners in all against Victor Estrella Burgos in round one and on that sort of form he certainly has a huge chance against GGL, who struggled with a calf problem in Chennai.
The Spaniard was beaten by another big server in Lukas Rosol in his only match in Chennai and defeated a sick Paul-Henri Mathieu in round one, with PHM admitting: “I had only one hour of battery life so it was mission impossible.”
Much of this match will hinge upon Brands, who can be very errant on his off days, but deadly when he’s on form, so I’m happy to take a chance that we’ll see the latter as a 3.15 chance.
Sure thing: Back Cilic and Simon at 1.28
Value bet: Back over 161.5 total minutes in Thiem/Almagro at 1.90
Long shot: Back Brands to beat Garcia-Lopez at 3.15