Australian Open Men's Day 5 Tips: Tsitsipas could struggle to cover handicap lines

Dutch Tennis Player Tallon Griekspoor
Tallon Griekspoor can cover the game handicap on Friday...

The Australian Open continues on Friday with the start of the third round, and after a day of shocks, Dan Weston returns to give his thoughts...

  • Big names exit in Thursday shocks

  • Djokovic drifting in outrights

  • Tsitsipas could be challenged by Griekspoor

Quarter four wide open after Thursday shocks

Where do we start? Bowing out of the tournament on Thursday in shock losses were Casper Ruud, who I mentioned could be vulnerable against Jenson Brooksby, as well as Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz.

This has completely opened up quarter four, where Roberto Bautista-Agut looks well set to get through but had to battle from two sets down to beat the qualifier, Brandon Holt. Tommy Paul and the aforementioned Brooksby clash in round three on Saturday, and the winner of that also looks in with a solid chance of making it through the quarter.

We also saw Novak Djokovic in action, with the Serb taking a medical timeout with a possible hamstring concern in his four-set win over Enzo Couacaud, and the tournament favourite has drifted markedly in the outrights, now trading at 2.56/4 from a previous price just shy of odds-on. The implied win percentage in the outright market has largely been allocated to Daniil Medvedev 4.1 and Holger Rune 11.010/1.

Tsitsipas historically struggles to cover big handicap lines

Medvedev is among Friday's heavy favourites, although his match against the rapidly improving Sebastian Korda is far from a given, while Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime are even shorter-priced, around the 1.101/10-1.152/13 mark for their clashes.

Tsitsipas is an interesting player to look at here, with the Greek man not having dropped a set to get to the third round, albeit against pretty limited opposition - Tallon Griekspoor should be a step up from those.

In Slams priced around the 1.101/10-1.152/13 mark since the start of 2020, Tsitsipas' games won margins have been 6, 7, 5, 9, 7, 7, 3 and -2.

Given this trend, largely due to the uninspiring return game of Tsitsipas, the +7.5 game line looks a solid option in favour of Griekspoor. The Dutchman is an above-average server who is unlikely to get comprehensively beaten, making a game handicap spot quite attractive. The game handicap market on the Exchange is yet to form, but general market lines suggest we should get around 1.758/11 on this line.

Several competitive clashes on day five

There are also a couple of superb-looking clashes tomorrow, with Karen Khachanov versus Frances Tiafoe being one. Tiafoe is the very marginal favourite at 1.9110/11, but has marginally worse 12-month hard court data - although he does possess a higher win rate, largely due to winning 16/23 tiebreaks in this sample, as opposed to Khachanov's 5/15. As I've said so many times, these fine margins can dictate so much.

With 6-month all surface data being of a similar dynamic, I do feel the lean is towards Khachanov here, although it's not a particularly strong lean.

Finally, the market is also struggling to split Hubert Hurkacz and Denis Shapovalov, with Hurkacz trading as the very marginal favourite. For me, this match-up revolves around whether Hurkacz is in decent condition after his almost four-hour win over Lorenzo Sonego in round two. He has the better serve but a more limited return game, and it's quite tricky to dispute the market line here in my view.

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