Donskoy and Marterer provide winners for us on Thursday
Both Evgeny Donskoy and Maximilian Marterer obliged for us on the game handicap on Thursday morning, with Marterer not only covering, but winning against the Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, who resumed his normal flaky service following a far too consistent win over his countryman, Roberto Bautista-Agut, in the opening round.
Marterer's victory a reward for those who dispute short-term'form'
Not only was Marterer's 'shock' victory an excellent result for the 22-year-old German, it was also a triumph for those who look deeper than match results to find out quite why a player won or lost a match, and whether there is an inherent, underlying reason for 'bad form'.
As I've mentioned numerous times before, such 'form' is frequently just variance, and Marterer was just one example of a player's results being much worse than their ability dictates. He should have plenty of upside in the current season, and has a very winnable third round clash with the journeyman, Tennys Sandgren, on Saturday morning.
Sandgren's win over Wawrinka one of a number of shocks
Sandgren takes his place in round three following an excellent win over the fitness doubt, Stan Wawrinka, and the Swiss number two was one of a number of upsets on day four, which also included Sam Querrey's loss to Marton Fucsovics and David Goffin's defeat against the veteran, Julien Benneteau (I mentioned Goffin was way too short yesterday), while Dominic Thiem had to fight from two sets down to oust Denis Kudla in a fifth.
For the eight second round matches on Friday, my model found value in two, and one of those was Damir Dzumhur, at a very big price, against Rafa Nadal - the Spaniard is 1.041/25 to progress past a player who has improved greatly on hard courts, after being predominantly a clay courter in Challengers.
Schwartzman under-rated by market against Dolgopolov
The other was Diego Schwartzman, who is a slight underdog at 2.206/5 against Alexandr Dolgopolov, with my model making the diminutive Argentine a 1.768/11 favourite, a similar price to their match in Brisbane a fortnight ago, where Dolgopolov won.
The fact that my model is against Dolgopolov isn't entirely a surprise - it finds that he is often over-rated by the market - and I'm not particularly enthused by one-off results, particularly when Dolgopolov actually faced more break points in the match. Furthermore, a look at the hard court stats in the last 12 months shows why I like Schwartzman here.
Schwartzman has won 61.5% of service points, 2.9% below Dolgopolov, but 4.7% more on return (41.5% to 36.8%), so it's evident that Schwartzman should be favourite - the market is weighting their opinion on both the match-up in Brisbane, and the bigger reputation of Dolgopolov. Long-term, picking spots like this will yield profit, so taking Schwartzman here is today's recommendation.
Dimitrov's clash with Rublev one of a number of great potential match-ups
In other matches, British hopes rest on Kyle Edmund, who is a heavy favourite to oust Nikoloz Basilashvili, while there is a fascinating match-up between Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev - it will be interesting to see how much Dimitrov's epic win over Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday will have taken out of him.
We also have a battle of the veterans, with a resurgent Andreas Seppi facing Ivo Karlovic - tiebreaks are likely - and our outright pick, Marin Cilic, is expected to dispose of Ryan Harrison. With Nick Kyrgios' match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a potential to be match of the round, it is evident that tomorrow's action at Melbourne Park is likely to be another superb day of tennis.
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