Australian Open

Australian Open Day 4 Tips: Back Rublev and Musetti to win tricky ties

Tennis player Andrey Rublev
Rublev may win at the Australian Open on day 4 but it will not be straightforward

On Day 4 Gavin Mair says seeded duo Andrey Rublev and Lorenzo Musetti may have to take the long way round to victory...

  • 4th day tricky for pre-match bettors

  • Eubanks can exploit Rublev complacency

  • Practice buddies know each other well

The fourth day sees a number of matches that look highly competitive on paper. On my shortlist I deliberated over 10 and came to the conclusion there was no obvious pre-match value. So when the path is unclear, you have to take a different route.

Two players who are accustomed to taking detours are Andrey Rublev and Lorenzo Musetti, both of whom possess an abundance of talent and are prepared to play for as many hours as possible during Grand Slam season.

Back Rublev but don't expect an easy win

Andrey Rublev has all the talent in the world, and is justifiably ranked as the fifth highest seed for this tournament. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to self-sabotage.

The chaotic Russian was in full command of his first round encounter against Thiago Seyboth Wild leading two sets to love and coasting. The final score? Rublev nicked it in a final set tie-break.

That match is Rublev in a nutshell. If you ever tune in to watch him you will get value for money as not only are you watching one of the best players in his sport, but you will also get to watch a one-man theatre performance from a tortured soul.

Rublev can lose his focus and temper quickly, usually after missing a routine shot. It is never easy for him. Eleven of his last 15 victories at Grand Slams have been completed in four sets or more, and that is an option I believe merits inclusion today.

Opponent Christopher Eubanks was in blistering form during his first round encounter against Taro Daniel. The big serving American was landing his first ball with authority and was condifently swiping winners from his aggressive ground game.

He also possesses a nasty slice backhand, which he used to carve up Daniel and it looks like exactly the tool to exploit Rublev's less focused moments.

Rublev's quality should come to the fore but there is value in Eubanks taking at least a set. The best way to back that outcome is to back Rublev to win the match and both players take a set at 2.111/10

Back Rublev to get the job done in more than 3 sets at 11/102.11

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Back Musetti to beat practice buddy

Lorenzo Musetti has struggled to dominate on the hard courts so far in his young career. The Italian has a flashy ground game, with the star attraction a backhand that produces stylish winners you will replay time and again in 'shot of the season' compilations.

His talent is obvious but in his career to date his best performances have tended to come on clay, particularly on faster clay tracks that respond well to his crafty strokes.

I've watched quite a few of his matches this season and it is clear he is piecing together his game on the hard courts. He has picked up a couple of handy wins, and came close to beating Alexander Bublik before the Aussie Open.

There are, however, still plenty of peaks and troughs in his level, and that is something his second round opponent Luca van Assche will happily exploit. The French teenager thrives on baseline stability and is stylistically the polar opposite to the Italian.

Given their contrasting approaches, it is no wonder that they paired together during pre-season to accumulate plenty of hours against each other on the practice courts. There won't much room for surprises but if there are any it will more likely come from the racket of the mercurial Italian.

Musetti has spoken of how off court events are maturing him. He is set to become a father this year and, following a nightmare start to the 2023 season, is keen to make hay in the early part of 2024. The higher he is seeded come the clay court season, the more dangerous he will be.

Longer term it would not surprise me if Van Assche has the better hard court career - his foundational steadiness is an asset that with time and experience should help him develop into a very useful player.

For now, I view Musetti as being further along in his journey and he should in current form have enough to reach the third round. Back Musetti to win and both players to win at least a set at 2.35/4

Back Musetti to win in more than 3 sets at 13/102.30

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