Second round matches at the Australian Open get started on Wednesday morning, and returning to preview the acution is our Tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"My perception of Duckworth currently is that he's a reasonably competent hard courter and while he should obviously be underdog against Auger-Aliassime, the price is too big on him."
Bautista-Agut out after loss to Albot
As with Monday's first round matches, most heavy favourites eased into round two on Tuesday with the likes of Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Rafa Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex De Minaur all progressing without dropping a set. Roberto Bautista-Agut, however, did get beaten at a short price, with the Spaniard surprisingly losing 3-1 to Radu Albot.
The winners from Monday take to the courts on Wednesday to play their round two clashes, so after a lot of intangibles in advance of round one we at least now know that every player remaining in the competition has won a match.
Duckworth a competent hard courter
Unfortunately, there's not an abundance of value on Wednesday's schedule, with most of the value according to my model focusing on heavy underdogs. One of these comes in one of the earlier matches in the morning in James Duckworth, who is 6.005/1 for his clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Home player Duckworth got a straightforward win over Damir Dzumur in round one and did reasonably well in the Murray River Open warm-up event last week, defeating Tomas Machac and Ugo Humbers as underdog before a tight loss to the improving Corentin Moutet.
Before the tour paused in March, he won a Challenger title on hard court and also took another two at the end of November 2019, so he's something of a surface specialist.
My perception of Duckworth currently is that he's a reasonably competent hard courter and while he should obviously be underdog against Auger-Aliassime, the price is too big on him. Not only this, but with a projected hold percentage in excess of 80%, Duckworth should be able to hold serve with decent regularity in what I anticipate to be a rather serve-orientated match.
As the handicap market continues to get further liquidity on the Exchange, I'm anticipating that Duckworth +6.5 games will be available just shy of 1.9010/11 in line with general market lines, and this looks a reasonable spot to me.
Opelka versus Fritz likely to be serve-orientated
Another serve-orientated match is likely to be Reilly Opelka versus Taylor Fritz, with the big-serving Opelka also looking marginal value at 2.226/5 to get the win as well. My model has this at around a 47% chance of a first-set tiebreak which before I checked the prices on that, I thought might offer some value. However, the markets have this eventuality to be less value than I thought it would be, with general lines on over 12.5 games in the first set being priced at just over even money.
Tomic needing to roll back the years against Shapovalov
In other matches, it's the big names again who are short-priced to get wins. Tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem are all around or sub 1.101/10 to get wins, while Denis Shapovalov is marginally bigger for his clash with Bernard Tomic.
Based on data from the last couple of years, Tomic deserves to be a heavy underdog but there's still that nagging doubt that he might get back to his best at some stage - tomorrow would be an excellent time for him to roll back the years and pick up a shock victory.
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