Australian Open Men's Betting: Murray and Rafa to ease into the last eight

Sean doesn't expect Murray to be stretched by Stephane Robert
Sean doesn't expect Murray to be stretched by Stephane Robert

Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal are both in action on Monday in Melbourne and Sean Calvert hunts out the value, as week two of the Australian Open starts...

"The last time Murray dropped a set against a 100+ ranked player in a major was against Robert Kendrick in New York in 2006..."

Back Murray to win set one 6-2 against Robert at 5.04/1

The opening week did not exactly go to plan, with Stan Wawrinka's 3-0 win over Tommy Robredo, instead of the 3-1 that would probably have been a more accurate reflection of the match, being typical of how things have gone.

Andy Murray is in action again on Monday and his cakewalk of a draw thus far continues with 33-year-old lucky loser Stephane Robert the next lowly opponent to cross the Scot's path.

It's been a perfect week for Murray to regain his match fitness and sharpness, with Feli Lopez vanquished in the last round both in straight sets and with a minus 5.5 game handicap as I had suggested.

Robert is an unlikely visitor to the second week of a major and he's here courtesy of a straight sets win over Martin Klizan in the third round, having initially been beaten in two by Michael Berrer in qualifying and then landing the lucky loser place when Phillip Kohlschreiber withdrew at short notice.

Stephane had never been past round two of a major before, so he's making the absolute most of his unexpected opportunity, but taking on Murray is clearly a different proposition from defeating a wayward Klizan, who can be hopeless when his radar is off.

The former world number 61's best career moment was probably when he defeated Tomas Berdych at the French Open in 2011 from two sets down, but that's his only top-10 win and he's been comfortably beaten in his five other clashes with top tenners.

Murray for his part was doing a bit of his typical back-holding and didn't start that well against Lopez, but he'll be looking to see off the challenge of Robert as quickly as possible.

The 1.251/4 about a 3-0 Murray win looks highly likely, but he has been beaten and dropped sets to 100+ ranked players in the past, notably Alex Bogomolov and Donald Young in back-to-back Masters in 2011. He is 20-0 against such players in Slams though and the last time he dropped a set against a 100+ ranked player in a major was against Robert Kendrick in New York in 2006.

If you're an early riser and fancy a bet on Murray's match when it starts at 5.30am I'd look to the '1st set correct score' market and 6-2 to Murray looks good to me at 5.04/1.

Murray's most recent opening set scores in majors against 100+ ranked players read: 6-2, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1, so that looks a better bet than 1.251/4 about a 3-0 win. A couple of breaks should give that bet a good chance.

Rafa Nadal managed to make his last round against Gael Monfils look easy, which was partly due to a poor showing from the infuriating Frenchman, but partly an excellent display from Rafa and I would expect something similar again when he takes on Kei Nishikori.

With the weather set to peak no higher than the mid-20s Celsius again on Monday the courts should play slowly enough for Rafa to extend his excellent record over Nishikori, who doesn't have either the weight of shot or physical strength to stay with Nadal over a distance.

Rafa has won all five of his matches against Kei and only once has the Japanese star taken a set - and that was in their very first meeting on grass back in 2008.

They've met twice on slow hard in Miami and Nadal has won 6-4, 6-4 each time and despite Kei linking up with Michael Chang in the off-season I'm not sure that the former French Open champ can bring the kind of improvement needed to beat the current French Open title holder.

Again, it's not an easy match to find value with Rafa a 1.041/25 shot and 1.422/5 for a 3-0 win.

It's so hard to put any faith in Nishikori's body holding up in this sort of match having seen him physically impaired so many times toward the end of tournaments and that can play havoc with handicap betting.

The Japanese star will have to come out firing right from the off here at around 4am UK time and other than the 3-0 Rafa win, which is too short for me, the best bet would be over 9.5 games in set one at 2.26/5.

The first set score between these two has been 6-4 in four of their five career meetings and the layers may have made Rafa a tad shorter than he should be after the demolition of Monfils. The first set 6-4 to Nadal correct score incidentally is 3.953/1.

Recommended Bets

Back Murray to win set one 6-2 against Robert at 5.04/1
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Nadal/Nishikori at 2.26/5

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