Week two of the 2014 Australian Open begins on Monday, with some men’s fourth round matches to savour at Melbourne Park.
A very tricky opening week due to the extreme heat ended well for my bets on Day Seven, with David Ferrer providing a nice 3.75 payout thanks to a 3-1 win over Florian Mayer, and we just about got the one set of effort required from Fabio Fognini to edge the set one handicap there too.
Grigor Dimitrov 1.53 v Roberto Bautista-Agut 2.40
Most will have this one down as an odds-on win for the much-hyped Bulgarian, but I don’t see any value at all in backing Dimitrov at what is a short price against his Spanish opponent, who’s in the form of his life right now.
After a slow start to the season in Chennai, where he was a finalist last year, RBA picked up his game in Sydney, where he reached the semi-finals, before really striking form here in Melbourne.
A fine win over Juan Martin Del Potro that involved his trademark flat hitting into the corners was followed up by another easy win over the admittedly injured Benoit Paire, but that’s a great match-up for Bautista-Agut anyway and I’m sure he would have won whatever Paire’s condition.
RBA and Grisha have met on three previous occasions, with Bautista-Agut leading 2-1, with the only relevant one being the 6-4, 6-2 beating that the Spaniard dished out in Beijing last season.
I said on Saturday that Milos Raonic was plenty short enough for his match with Dimitrov and so it proved, with the Canadian offering up a below par performance that wasn’t good enough to force a decider against the Bulgarian, who makes the second week of a Slam for the first time.
Many will be expecting him to kick on from here and go through to face probably Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals and well he might, but I’m not so sure that Dimitrov has quite eradicated the frequent let downs he has in majors and in any case this could be very tough for him.
The overs has a decent chance here, but I’ll stick with Bautista-Agut at around 2.40.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2.30 v Roger Federer 1.60
This is a repeat of their five-set tussle here 12 months ago in which Federer came out on top, but I can’t be backing the Swiss at odds-on against decent opposition these days as his level can’t be relied upon as it once was.
The former champion has had a dream draw so far, with nothing of any real quality, but then so has Tsonga, with two gimmes and an exhausted Gilles Simon, who was clearly fibbing when he said he was in top shape.
Big Jo has won all of his matches this season, but he hasn’t convinced and his record against the top players is patchy, with three wins from nine such clashes last season. He’s also lost 17 of his last 19 matches against players ranked above him, so that doesn’t fill me with confidence for this one.
Federer meanwhile has won just three of his 13 matches against top-10 ranked opponents since that win over Tsonga here last year and there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s slowing down in his 34th year.
So it’s a tricky one to call, but I expect what we’ll see is an up and down match from both men, with patches of brilliance combined with a few missed sitters and some top level shanking and it has the look of a long one to me.
Federer looks poor value at 1.60, while I’m not crazy about the 2.30 on Tsonga either, but the 1.70 about over 40.5 games looks a better bet than either.
Back Bautista-Agut to beat Dimitrov at 2.40
Back over 40.5 games in Federer vs Tsonga at 1.70