The heatwave appears to be over in Melbourne and hopefully we can get back to some actual tennis for the remainder of the tournament, if the rain holds off that is.
Temperatures dipped considerably on Friday evening with the onset of rain and they are set to be in the 20s on Saturday, hopefully leading to matches not decided purely by heat resistance.
It was one from two for my best bets on Friday, with Florian Mayer easily defeating Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets, while frustratingly Kevin Anderson failed by a couple of games on the handicap in his comeback win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are all in action on Saturday and of the four I would expect Nadal and Tsonga to be challenged the most.
Gael Monfils has been in more attacking mode of late and has it in him to take a set from Rafa, while Murray has a very good read on the Feliciano Lopez serve most of the time and the Brit will be confident of extending his 7-0 head-to-head lead over his mum’s favourite other player.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.18 v Gilles Simon 4.80 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 08.05
Gillou has cost many a punter a pretty penny this week with his supposed injury situation, which reportedly led to him almost withdrawing from the tournament before a ball had been struck.
Now after coming through consecutive five set battles it’s quite apparent that his recovery from a turned ankle has been little short of miraculous, and he says he’s in perfectly good shape which might make this encounter tougher for Tsonga that a quote of 1.18 suggests.
Of course, Simon could be leading us up the garden path again, but I like the 1.70 about Gillou with a 2.5 set start here. The game handicap is dangerous as Simon may finally hit the wall and collapse at some stage, but he has won two of his last three against Tsonga and only trails 5-4 in their overall head-to-head series.
Tsonga hasn’t been tested at all yet with a cakewalk of a draw against Filippo Volandri and Thomaz Bellucci, both of whom love the clay, and I can’t be so sure that Simon is out of gas.
He just loves a grind and last year on the clay of Paris where the points are longer, he went five with Lleyton Hewitt, four with Pablo Cuevas, five with Sam Querrey, then five with Roger Federer in consecutive rounds, so this guy can tough it out.
Milos Raonic 1.65 v Grigor Dimitrov 2.18 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 02.05
This is a clash that could play out plenty of times over the next decade, as two of the game’s potential future stars face off for the fourth time in their careers with Dimitrov leading 2-1 if you include a Futures match from 2009.
Their last meeting was a year ago when Dimitrov was in great form in Brisbane. He won in straight sets that day, but this one is an intriguing clash in which Milos looks poor value for the win to me at 1.65.
Dimitrov looks like he might be knuckling down to his work a bit under coach Roger Rasheed, but the fitness doubts will always be there until the Bulgarian proves he can go deep in a major.
Raonic meanwhile needs to improve his returning to be a threat, but he always has that serve to see him through and I think you have to look at the stats here and back the over 10.5 games in the first set at 2.10.
Of Milos’s last 11 matches on the tour, eight of the first sets have gone 10.5 games or more and with Dimitrov no mean server himself the price of 2.10 has to be value.
Elsewhere, Roger Federer should find Teimuraz Gabashvili a comfortable opponent and will surely win in three, whilst I wouldn’t be too quick to back Martin Klizan at a short-looking 1.52 against Stephane Robert in the battle of the lucky losers.
Back Simon +2.5 sets to beat Tsonga at 1.70
Back over 10.5 games in set one of Raonic/Dimitrov at 2.10