Bolt gives us a nice win on day two
Tuesday's action saw little in the way of shocks with the likes of Alexander Zverev, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic progress to round two on Thursday, although there were plenty of other talking points.
The predicted match of the day was a huge letdown as Nick Kyrgios failed to give Milos Raonic much of a test, while Stan Wawrinka was perhaps fortunate to pick up on Ernests Gulbis' retirement when a set down. Kei Nishikori was forced to fight back from two sets down against the promising Polish prospect, Kamil Majchrzak, who struggled from the third set onwards and eventually retired. The retirements were something of a theme - five men in total were unable to last the distance in the oppressive Melbourne heat.
We also picked up a winner with Alex Bolt not only covering the game handicap but netting the underdog win over Jack Sock and my suspicion that Sock has much improvement to find from last season certainly worked in our favour overnight.
Wednesday's schedule sees the first batch of 16 second round matches take place and in truth there's not a lot of spots I like on what is, in my opinion, a pretty tricky card. I'll start with a few underdogs who might have a better chance of covering handicap lines than their odds suggest.
Tsitsipas still over-rated even against current Troicki
I've mentioned in the past that I feel that Stefanos Tsitsipas is a little over-rated currently, with break point overperformance and many wins in tight matches contributing to his success and both of these tend to be quite unsustainable. He does have upside as a young player of course but I feel that it is difficult for his prices to often be justified.
Tsitsipas is 1.171/6 against Viktor Troicki, who is nowhere near his previous best levels, but even the current version of Troicki can put a decent fight against an opponent who doesn't tend to win matches that easily.
Travaglia can push Basilashvili
I also think that the qualifier, Stefano Travaglia, is bordering on value territory against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who is just 1.341/3 to get the win. Bash has improved significantly in the last six months but Travaglia is no mug on hard courts even though his stats are mostly against a lower calibre of opponent than he will face tomorrow.
Dimitrov to struggle to cover big handicap line
Another interesting handicap spot is Pablo Cuevas against Grigor Dimitrov, with the Bulgarian man statistically far from his best over the recent months and he even dropped a set to the virtually retired Janko Tipsarevic on Monday. The Uruguayan is also not nearly at his best as he enters into his mid 30s and has an obvious preference for clay.
However, I anticipate the match to be pretty serve-orientated, and the Sportsbook's 4/6 on Cuevas with a 7.5 game head start appeals, particularly as Dimitrov has failed to cover this in eight of his 11 Grand Slam matches from 2016 onwards when priced below 1.20. The times he covered this were when priced at 1.07 (Tipsarevic on Monday, plus Vaclav Safranek and Dennis Novak) or below, and Cuevas is a decent upgrade on that trio.
Thompson under-rated against Seppi
The other spot I quite like is Jordan Thompson for the straight out win against Andreas Seppi, with the home player available as a 2.447/5 underdog. My model actually makes Thompson a very slight favourite for the match, and he arrives here in great touch - he's only lost to the big prospect Alex De Minaur (twice) in 2019, and has decent wins over Feliciano Lopez and Adrian Mannarino. In addition, he finished 2018 with a bang, reaching three consecutive hard court finals in Challengers, winning events in both Traralgon and Canberra.
Seppi did reach the final last week in Sydney - another player who lost to De Minaur there - and I can't help thinking this has influenced the price on the veteran Italian here. I also wonder how Seppi, who turns 35 in a month, will be able to cope with five matches last week followed up by a four-setter against Steve Johnson on Monday.
Nadal a touch short for Ebden clash
In other matches, Rafa Nadal looks a little short as he faces home player Matt Ebden while other big names are in action, including Marin Cilic, who faces Mackenzie McDonald and Roger Federer who takes on the Brit, Dan Evans. It will be interesting to see how Evans fares here as he is obviously better than his current ranking and seems pretty motivated to recover that lost ranking following his ban.
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