Australian Open

Australian Open Day 3 Tips: Dimitrov won't have it all his own way in first round win

Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov won't have it all his own way in the first round says Gavin

Gavin Mair puts the spotlight on a couple of in form players. Can a big serving Chinese player end the run of Hobart champion Emma Navarro? And will Grigor Dimitrov be able to avoid a protracted war against the battle hardened Marton Fucsovics?

  • In form players worth taking on

  • Chinese player to bring Navarro back down to Earth

  • Can Dimitrov avoid a war with Hungarian powerhouse?

Today I believe there is value in betting against one of the sport's form players in Emma Navarro.

The daughter of billionaire Ben Navarro has put the heavy investment and good connections (Navarro has received an absurd amount of tournament wildcards in her career) to good use, building her game to become a player installed towards the top end of the rankings.

The 22-year old is on the crest of a wave having earned a maiden tour title in Hobart last week, and is amongst the top 32 seeded players for the Australian Open. Why on earth would you side against her?

Inflated value

The American's rise up the rankings has been rapid over the past six months and it is clear she has improved her overall game. However, I feel the markets are now overestimating her ability and I question her secure favouritism in the first round.

Firstly, Opponent Xiyu Wang is a highly talented player in her own right. At the end of last season the Chinese player scored her own first tour level title in Guangzhou. She is a big serving left-hander, and I believe serving quality will be the greatest factor in this contest.

On average it is Xiyu Wang who has the better service hold percentage at 78% compared to Navarro's 73%. Yes, Navarro arguably has the better toolkit off the ground to create break opportunities but if Xiyu has a good day then she will keep those chances to a premium.

The Chinese player's only defeat of the season came partly as a result of a rancid serving day against Elina Svitolina when she placed little over 50% of her first balls into play. And of course, Svitolina has shown in her comeback that she is still very much a high level player. There is no shame in that defeat.

My overwhelming concern however is that Navarro's run is both abrupt and to an extent overrated. Winning a tournament is undeniably a good measure of form but with all due respect the run in Hobart was not the most complicated - Clara Burel, Magdalena Frech, Viktoriya Tomova, Yue Yuan are not exactly the creme de la creme of the sport.

A win in the final against Elise Mertens is noteworthy, but again the Belgian is not exactly the worst player to land in a final. Notably, nowhere in this run has Navarro faced a player of Xiyu Wang's profile.

Navarro has spent almost 15 hours on court already this season across both Auckland and Hobart, which equates to quite a lot of tennis in the legs already. She should be credited for these results, but I believe Xiyu Wang - who leads their career head to head - looks value to win at 5/42.25.

Back Xiyu Wang to beat Navarro @ 5/42.25

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Tough assignment for Dimitrov

My other play on day three involves going against another form player in Grigor Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian is playing some incredible tennis at the moment, backing up a late season run to the Paris Masters final with a title in Brisbane. However, it would be a surprise if he has things all his own way against Marton Fucsovics.

The Hungarian has not only made life tough for Dimitrov in the past, he actually holds a winning career head-to-head record. Fucsovics is built for war, and will look to drag Dimitrov into a dogfight with physical, endurance tennis.

I do agree that Dimitrov in current form should find a way through this tie but a bet that caught my eye is for him to win at and for both players to bag at least a set at 11/102.11.

Each match this duo have played has been split over the maximum number of sets, including a five-setter the only time they played at Grand Slam level at 2020 US Open. Fucsovics loves playing protracted matches - a glance at his Grand Slam record over recent seasons shows how frequently he's engaged in four or five-setters.

Dimitrov is the form and classier player and should have the edge. To win, but not in straight sets, feels a logical outcome and is generously priced at over evens.

Back Dimitrov to Win and both players to win a set @ 11/102.11

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