Australian Open

Australian Open Day 9 Tips: Serbian player can make it competitive

Night match
Late night drama: Can Kecmanovic test Alcaraz in prime time match

Entering the business stage of the tournament, tennis analyst Gavin Mair is looking for a short priced favourite to take a longer route...

  • Short priced minefield on Day 9

  • Kecmanovic at best level for a few years

  • Alcaraz capable of detours

There are clear and reasonable favourites for each of day nine's men's draw encounters. The familiar names of Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev, Hubert Hurkacz and Daniil Medvedev should all have too much for their opposition.

However, none of these players are above a price of 2/51.40 and you won't get rich from backing them.

In the women's draw prices are more inviting but you could make a case for several outcomes. Linda Noskova at 11/82.38 is capable of giving big-hitter hating Elina Svitolina a bloody nose, and although I expect her to win can you really trust the volatile Anna Kalinskaya as short as 8/131.61?

You'd reasonably expect Victoria Azarenka and Qinwen Zheng to come through their respective match-ups but there is no certainty nor obvious value over the path they take to the finishing line.

Impressive Kecmanovic

My angle for today's pick is to side with the resurgent form of Serbian player Miomir Kecmanovic. After a dismal 2023, he looks to be rediscovering the form that saw him club the rankings the previous season.

In early 2022 he made it to this stage of the Australian Open, and made deep runs in Miami and Indian Wells. Notable of that form was his ability to turn hard court battles into dogfights, including one against today's opponent Carlos Alcaraz.

In Miami the duo slogged it out over two and a half hours, in a match featuring two tiebreakers and were separated by only three points overall. On that day Alcaraz was a heavy favourite to win, as he is for this match.

Kecmanovic looks to have channelled that warrior mindset once again winning back to back five setters, with his two defeats this season arriving in tiebreak sets.

Alcaraz is undoubtedly a justified favourite for this match. He is after all the biggest talent in the sport. However, because his tennis is hyper-attacking his level can oscillate throughout a match and it is common for him to drop sets along the way. Even in the Grand Slam events he won he wasn't knocking out opponents in straight sets along the way.

Alcaraz a difficult read

The Spaniard didn't play any warm-up events and he looked to be shaking off cobwebs in his first two rounds, which weren't fully fluid performances. His chance to find better rhythm was thwarted by the physically limited youngster Jerry Shang who retired in round three.

With Alcaraz still finding his feet it is not unreasonable to suggest that Kecmanovic is capable of matching him at least for a stretch of a match, and I think in his current form he can nab a set.

Back Alcaraz to win and both players to win a set at 9/52.80

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