We have third round action from Melbourne Park on Friday in the men's singles tournament, and there's some fascinating match-ups on the Friday schedule...
"If I was forced to pick a spot for tomorrow’s matches, it would be Mannarino on the game handicap with around even money available on him with a 6.5 game head start."
Outright market similar to pre-tournament
Heavy favourites Rafa Nadal and Daniil Medvedev progressed with ease on Thursday to make round three on Saturday, and it's pretty much 'as you were' with the outright market compared to the pre-tournament starting prices.
Novak Djokovic remains the 2.3411/8 favourite, while Daniil Medvedev is still at around 5.509/2. Dominic Thiem 10.519/2 is slightly ahead of Rafa Nadal 11.010/1 in the outright market, which were again similar to the pre-tournament lines.
Zverev looking slightly short for Mannarino clash
Djokovic and Thiem are in action tomorrow as the top half of the draw continues their tournaments, with the world number one looking slightly short at 1.041/25 for his match against Taylor Fritz. Of course, Djokovic should be an overwhelming favourite here but Fritz is no pushover on hard court and is one of the better young players on tour. He could well keep this closer than the market would anticipate.
On a day where I am unconvinced of much pre-match value, I also think this is the case for Alexander Zverev for his clash with Adrian Mannarino. The German is 1.192/11 to progress and he should do, but again, Mannarino is a very competent hard courter and could be undervalued for their clash - the Frenchman is yet to drop a set in the competition.
If I was forced to pick a spot for tomorrow's matches, it would be Mannarino on the game handicap with around even money available on him with a 6.5 game head start.
Thiem v Kyrgios the match of the day
As for Thiem, he faces Nick Kyrgios in what looks the clear match of the day. Kyrgios is a dangerous opponent who could beat anyone when his game is on, but he struggles with consistency. That's why Thiem is a strong favourite for this, although again, the higher ranked favourite looks to be a little short at 1.271/4. It will be interesting to see how Kyrgios' fitness levels are following his five-setter against Ugo Humbert in round two.
Another cracking match in prospect is the all-Canadian Next-Gen clash between Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. I'm anticipating the match to be pretty serve-orientated, with both players holding well in excess of 80% on hard courts, and Shapovalov looks about right as the 1.608/13 favourite.
Finally, I'm also looking forward to seeing Aslan Karatsev against Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine, Schwartzman is 1.392/5 to get the win against a player with strong Challenger Tour data - particularly on return - and who has started the season with five straight wins, dropping just one set. This should be the most return-orientated match on the schedule with both players strong on return but relatively weak on serve.
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