Australian Open Men's Day Seven Tips: Dimitrov cautious handicap value against Thiem

Bulgarian Tennis Player Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov looks slightly generously priced against Dominic Thiem...

The men's draw at the Australian Open moves into the fourth round stage on Sunday, and returning to discuss the four matches on the schedule is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"This is, by some distance, the shortest price Thiem has been against Dimitrov away from clay in their career, and actually there isn't even a huge discrepancy between their post-lockdown numbers across all surfaces."

Djokovic pushed out in the outright market following fitness doubts

With one exception, the eight third-round matches on Saturday in the men's tournament were extremely one sided, with six being decided in three straight sets. There was an upset, however, with Alex De Minaur crashing out to Fabio Fognini, while Filip Krajinovic gave Daniil Medvedev a real scare fighting back from two sets down to take it to five sets.

The top half of the draw gets round four started on Sunday, and that includes Novak Djokovic who has now drifted out to around 7.06/1 third favourite following the injury issues which beset him in his win over Taylor Fritz. The world number one continues his tournament - assuming he doesn't withdraw - against Milos Raonic in the night match (not before 930am UK time).

Raonic with best chance of finally defeating Djokovic

Djokovic has won all eleven of their previous meetings, stemming back to September 2013, and in those matches, he's disarmed the strong serve of Raonic - the Canadian has held serve less than 75% of the time in career matches against Djokovic, and that's even with strong break point overperformance on serve compared to service points won expectation.

Raonic has broken Djokovic less than 10% of the time, and if there was a fully-fit Djokovic taking to the court on Sunday, Raonic would be needing to overturn not just historical results but underlying performance levels to cause an upset. However, the fitness doubts surrounding Djokovic arguably give Raonic the best chance to get his first career win in their head-to-head series.

Interestingly, Djokovic is one of the longer-priced favourites on Sunday in the men's event, with Alexander Zverev the shortest at 1.101/10 for his match against Dusan Lajovic. It would be a real surprise if Zverev was defeated, given Lajovic's general preference to clay-courts as opposed to hard, but the German does look a little short at current market prices.

Thiem a little short for Dimitrov clash

This is also the case for Dominic Thiem at 1.331/3 versus Grigor Dimitrov. Numbers-wise, it's tough to make a case for Thiem at these prices and I make him more around the 1.501/2 mark to get the better of the Bulgarian. This is, by some distance, the shortest price Thiem has been against Dimitrov away from clay in their career, and actually there isn't even a huge discrepancy between their post-lockdown numbers across all surfaces.

Given this, Dimitrov looks some cautious value at the current 3.90 and we should be able to get around even money about him with a 4.5 game head start on the game handicap.

Tournament sensation Karatsev with intriguing clash against Auger-Aliassime

Before this, however, there is an intriguing clash between Felix Auger-Aliassime and the tournament sensation, Aslan Karatsev. If the market had priced Auger-Aliassime at 1.654/6 before the start of the season, it would have been assumed to be a mistake but the qualifier, Karatsev, is now six unbeaten this year and has only dropped one set - against high potential American player, Brandon Nakashima.

Karatsev despatched Diego Schwartzman in the third round in straight sets, although it's fair to point out that the Argentine had issues converting break point chances. Karatsev has great numbers this year (over 120% combined service/return points won) across three qualifiers and three Australian Open matches but still has overperformed on key points based on expectations from those numbers - he's playing extremely well but is also enjoying a little positive variance.

In my view, this is the most intriguing match of the day. We don't really ever see a player come from the Challenger Tour aged in their late twenties and suddenly becoming one of the better players on the main tour, so it will be fascinating to see how Karatsev performs against another player who looks on an upward curve.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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