Australian Open Men's Betting: Five potential first round upsets

Will Gulbis be brought to his knees at a major again?
Will Gulbis be brought to his knees at a major again?

The first major of the 2014 tennis season begins on Monday and tennis expert Sean Calvert has chosen five matches where the underdogs could have their day at the Australian Open 2014...

"The crazy Latvian has won just one match in Melbourne in his career - against clay courter Albert Montanes - and he consistently fails to produce anything of note at majors..."

Back Monaco at 5.04/1 to beat Gulbis

As ever, I've sifted through the 64 first round matches and selected five where I think there's a decent chance of an upset occurring. It's not the easiest of tasks in the men's event, where there were just three winners priced at 3.02/1 or above in the opening round last year.

There have been an inordinate number of injuries already in 2014 and this comes into my thinking a little when choosing the following matches.

Bradley Klahn 4.84/1 vs Grigor Dimitrov 1.222/9
No injuries that I'm aware of in this one, but we do have an underdog in great form and at his highest spot in the world rankings up against a consistently overrated opponent, who regularly fails in major tournaments.

Klahn has moved inside the top-100 in the world and is currently at number 89 after some very solid results in Challengers at the end of last season and he's kicked on again in 2014 with wins over Steve Johnson and Daniel Brands in Auckland last week before losing a tight one to eventual finalist Yen Hsun Lu.

The American leftie will be confident coming into this and he has beaten highly ranked opposition at a major before when he took down Jurgen Melzer in New York and if Dimitrov isn't at the races, as he often isn't, it could be tough for the much touted Bulgarian.

Grigor was beaten in straight sets by Julien Benneteau here last year in round one and the same fate befell him in New York when Joao Sousa beat him, while Grega Zemlja took care of him at Wimbledon, so Dimitrov has much work to do in the slams. He's won just one of his four matches this season and a back of Klahn may prove a good decision here.

Frank Dancevic 3.02/1 vs Benoit Paire 1.444/9
Sitting right next to Dimitrov and Klahn in the draw are a pair of players whose attitude couldn't be more different to the game of tennis.

Canadian journeyman Dancevic trawls the world largely in Challengers scraping together a living from sweat and toil, while Paire can be seen ambling about the court with a hoodie on in the early summer if it's a bit chilly and rivals Fabio Fognini on the 'can't be bothered' stakes.

Paire was struggling with injury towards the end of last season and the temperamental Frenchman was booed off again in Paris in his final match of the campaign before losing two of his four matches so far this season.

One of those he managed to lose from 5-1 up the decider and his propensity to go mentally AWOL is second to none.

Dancevic toughed it out in qualies and won't stand for any of Paire's nonsense on the court when they meet. It could be straight sets to either man depending on Benoit's mood, but the value has to lie with chancing Frank here.

Fabio Fognini 1.75/7 vs Alex Bogomolov Jr 2.47/5
Similarly to the Paire match this could be another one where we see some half-hearted shuffling, plenty of shoulder shrugging and an odds-on loser.

The Fog has thrown in the towel in more matches than I've had hot dinners and he was at it again in his only game this season when he retired with a thigh strain in Chennai against Yuki Bhambri.

Who knows how serious that injury was or is, but he'll have to work hard to beat Russian grinder Bogomolov Jr, who defeated Paire in five in New York in his most recent slam match and knows how to get the better of a slacker across the net.

Mikhail Youzhny 1.330/100 vs Jan-Lennard Struff 4.03/1
The Colonel has retired in two of his last three matches and cried off with sickness in Chennai, so he's had just the one completed match so far in 2014, which was a win over young Aussie Jordan Thompson in an exhibition.

Youzhny's record of late in Melbourne is poor, with two five set struggles last year in the opening two rounds, the latter of which he lost to Evgeny Donskoy after edging Matt Ebden and in 2012 he was beaten first up by Andrey Golubev.

The Russian's record here is littered with early exits and five set matches and he hasn't been past the third round since way back in 2008.

Struff is highly rated by judges in Germany and if he's on one of his good days he could easily extend Youzhny to another long, arduous battle in the Melbourne heat.

Juan Monaco 5.04/1 vs Ernests Gulbis 1.222/9
Gulbis has a really poor record here and hasn't been past the third round of any Slam since 2008. The crazy Latvian has won just one match in Melbourne in his career - against clay courter Albert Montanes - and he consistently fails to produce anything of note at majors.

Punters keep giving the flashy Gulbis chances based on glimpses of great form, but again in his most recent Slam he was beaten by Andreas Haider-Maurer in New York when he had the draw at his mercy and 1.222/9 is very short when considering his results in majors.

Monaco has beaten Gulbis here before back in 2010 and in all Ernie has lost at 1.331/3 or shorter six times in majors since that year - he was a 1.041/25 shot when Haider-Maurer won in New York.

The Argentine meanwhile opted to just play Kooyong ahead of this tournament, so his form is hard to assess, but he's worth siding with at 5.04/1.

With the lack of big priced winners in mind here last year it's worth being a little circumspect and backing all of the above on a back-to-lay basis.

Recommended Bets

Back Klahn at 4.84/1 to beat Dimitrov
Back Dancevic at 3.02/1 to beat Paire
Back Bogomolov Jr at 2.47/5 to beat Fognini
Back Struff at 4.03/1 to beat Youzhny
Back Monaco at 5.04/1 to beat Gulbis

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