The blazing heat continues in Melbourne and it's certainly making life tough for both players and punters in week one of the 2014 Australian Open. Sean Calvert assesses the best bets on day four...
"Raonic has a patchy 14-14 career record against opponents over 6'4" in height, such as Hanescu, and nine of the Canadian's last 10 matches against such opposition have involved at least one tie break..."
The event at the present time has been reduced to a 'who can survive playing in an oven' contest and it this moment not many of my backed players are doing it. Those who aren't already injured that is.
I said yesterday that Ernests Gulbis was too short against Sam Querrey, but I expected Ernie to put up more of a fight than a straight sets loss that ruined my overs bet. The crazy Latvian managed to only put 46% of his first serves in play and that's not going to get it done against anyone - even a returner as poor as Querrey.
Vasek Pospisil was clearly injured from the off against Matt Ebden, but incredibly still managed to win the match, yet he failed on the handicap by one game, while Dmitry Tursunov had a day where he wasted his opportunities. The Russian was a break up in the first set and the fourth and took just three of 10 break point opportunities, while Denis Istomin took five of his eight chances and that was enough.
Day four at Melbourne Park will see the heat continue, with the dial set to hit 40C once more and it's just a case of survival of the fittest at the moment rather than tennis ability.
Andy Murray should have few issues in that regard, as he has both a simple-looking match and a nice start time of around 9pm local time (10am UK) versus Vincent Millot.
The world number 267, who is by all accounts quite a decent footballer, has also, like Andy, had back problems and this match should prove straightforward for Murray who will probably win this minus 10.5 games on the handicap at around 2.111/10.
Rafa Nadal should have few issues too, with the energetic young Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was cramping badly in his win over Igor Sijsling, but the 17-year-old may have enough in him to make one set close.
Roger Federer also has a nice start time of 5pm against Blaz Kavcic and the Swiss shouldn't be too hampered by the gutsy, but rather limited Slovenian.
Thomaz Bellucci could trouble Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his best form, but on a slick hard court it's unlikely, as we haven't seen the best of Bellucci for some time now.
Back-to-lay punters would have had a bit of success in the first round by backing Bradley Klahn against Grigor Dimitrov, as the Bulgarian dropped the opener against the American and having a back-to-lay bet on the in-form Yen Hsun Lu could prove profitable on Thursday.
Lu has played some great tennis over the last few weeks, with a win over David Ferrer in a run to the final in Auckland and he'll be more used to playing in the heat than Dimitrov.
The Chinese Taipei player is around 2.77/4 for this one and is worthy of consideration against an opponent whose record in majors is so poor.
Gael Monfils looks short again in his match with Jack Sock at around 1.11/10 for a player with his injury record and suspect brain. He has looked good so far this season, but I always feel that a moment of madness is around the corner with Lamonf and Sock can trouble him if he has a great day on serve.
Kei Nishikori is also short at the same price given his terrible record with injury and having played a five setter in the last round, while Nick Kyrgios would probably be the best value choice on Thursday if it weren't for his dodgy shoulder.
Milos Raonic is another who still has a lot to prove at Grand Slam level. That's not to say he won't at some point, but he managed to drop a set against Daniel Gimeno-Traver in round one and the overs looks highly likely in Thursday's clash with Victor Hanescu.
I was surprised that the big Romanian was able to get the better of in-form Peter Gojowczyk and if Victor repeats that sort of serving he has a shot today and should at least make Raonic go past the overs mark. Raonic has been working on his returning, but he needs to, as it's very weak and Hanescu can push Milos here.
The world number 11 has a patchy 14-14 career record against opponents over 6'4" in height, such as Hanescu, and nine of the Canadian's last 10 matches against such opposition have involved at least one tie break. He's lost six of those 10 matches, so the yes in 'Tie Break Played' looks a cert and the overs highly likely.
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