Day two of the Australian Open brings more first round clashes, and returning to give his thoughts on another hectic schedule is Dan Weston...
"Sock's level last season was very poor indeed, and was reflected in a dire win-loss record, and it will take a considerable statistical improvement for him to get back to his former best level."
Murray succumbs in fifth set on day one
Monday's action in Melbourne saw a day of few shocks, with Kevin Anderson, Grigor Dimitrov, Rafa Nadal, Marin Cilic and Roger Federer safely make it through to round two, all with very little fuss. However, we did see John Isner exit in a predictably big-serving clash with Reilly Opelka, with the younger American getting the better of his more experienced counterpart by three tiebreaks to one, while Andy Murray bravely fought back from two sets down against Roberto Bautista-Agut before succumbing in a fifth set decider.
Moving on to Tuesday's schedule, the second set of 32 first round matches concludes the opening round of the tournament, and as it's still the first round, I again recommend caution regarding picking spots and staking.
On Tuesday, a number of underdogs look to be in with a chance of upsetting the odds in Australia, so I thought I'd give my thoughts on a few of those who could viably cause an upset.
Harris capable of giving Medvedev a good match
The South African qualifier George Harris retired several weeks ago in the Playford Challenger, but has subsequently qualified for the main draw here, with wins over Zdenek Kolar, Dominik Koepfer and Dustin Brown - all as favourite - and the 21-year-old is clearly on an upward curve. He faces the similarly aged Daniil Medvedev, who is is somewhat more advanced on that curve, but the Russian looks pretty short at 1.201/5 against an opponent who has shown his potential on the Challenger Tour.
I also don't think Phillip Kohlschreiber's current level justifies odds of 1.051/20, even against a Challenger Tour regular in Zhe Li, while in the clash of former top 10 players, Ernests Gulbis could well have a better chance than the 4.003/1 odds reflect against Stan Wawrinka.
Bolt capable of continuing Sock's poor recent record
Another underdog who I feel has a decent chance of an upset is Alex Bolt (pictured below), with the home wild card facing another wild card, in the shape of Jack Sock. Sock's level last season was very poor indeed, and was reflected in a dire win-loss record, and it will take a considerable statistical improvement for him to get back to his former best level.
Despite this, he looks prohibitively short at 1.374/11 against the unheralded Bolt, who has just turned 26 and hasn't ever really made an impact on the main tour. However, in hard court Challenger events in 2018, Bolt was 16-8, and had solid combined service/return data, and this clearly demonstrate that this is unlikely to be a facile win for his American opponent.
In addition, Sock has lost five of his last seven Grand Slam matches when similarly priced, and only in one of these - an easy win over Guido Andreozzi at the US Open last season - did he cover a big handicap line. The handicap lines are still forming on the Exchange, and if we can get in excess of 1.758/11 on Bolt +5.5 games, as is available in the general market, this looks a solid spot.
Jarry looking a false underdog against Mayer
Other players that my numbers make some value include Guido Pella, at 2.3211/8 against Joao Sousa, while Nicolas Jarry and Leonardo Mayer's prices look like they should be the other way around, with Jarry looking a false underdog at 2.1211/10.
If he can transfer his Challenger level to the main tour, Marcel Granollers seems big at 2.486/4 against the limited (away from fast conditions) Marius Copil, and I also feel that Filip Krajinovic is under-rated as a slight 1.728/11 favourite against the seed, Marco Cecchinato, who is very poor away from clay.
Raonic v Kyrgios the undoubted match of the day
We also see a number of big names begin their tournaments on Tuesday. Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori are overwhelming market favourites against Mitchell Krueger and Kamil Majchrzak, respectively, while Alexander Zverev is very slightly bigger against Aljaz Bedene.
But arguably the match of the day is the big-serving clash between Nick Kyrgios (above) and Milos Raonic, where the Canadian, Raonic, has the slight edge in the betting market against the home favourite. This looks about right to me, with the match being very hard to call indeed.
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Back Alex Bolt +5.5 games at around 1.758/11 to beat Jack Sock