Australian Open Day Four: Bolt looks a bet once again

Australian Tennis Player Alex Bolt
Alex Bolt can again test a more illustrious opponent...

There's plenty of high-quality action in store for Thursday morning at the Australian Open, and returning to mark your card is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"Simon's level isn't nearly at his peak now - completely logical given that he's now 34 years of age - and a 12 month combined hold/break percentage of 99.1% for the Frenchman is underwhelming."

Anderson loss the big shock on day three

Wednesday's matches saw plenty of talking points, with there being wins for Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, but a shock exit for Kevin Anderson at the hands of Frances Tiafoe. Nadal eased past Matt Ebden, while Federer was pushed well by Dan Evans, whose level in this match bodes well for future progression from the Brit. We also saw a big win for Tomas Berdych, who easily took care of Robin Haase, franking his level from Doha a fortnight ago, as the Czech looks to restore his ranking following long-term injury.

In addition, there were a couple of five-set epics, with our outright quarter selection, Alex De Minaur, edging Henri Laaksonen - he takes on Nadal next in round three - while Thomas Fabbiano nicked a final set breaker against Reilly Opelka. Another five-set winner was Roberto Bautista-Agut over John Millman, and you have to wonder how this second consecutive five-setter will impact on the Spaniard's chances against Karen Khachanov on Friday.

Cuevas bags us a handicap winner over Dimitrov

We also saw a win for our game handicap position on Pablo Cuevas against Grigor Dimitrov, with the Uruguayan keeping matters competitive as expected, and there could well be further scope for handicap opposition on the Bulgarian, Dimitrov, on Friday, as he faces the aforementioned Fabbiano.

Fognini has ability advantage over Mayer

Looking at Thursday's matches, several favourites look a little generously priced. At 1.608/13, there something to be said for Fabio Fognini (pictured below) against Leonardo Mayer - while Fognini doesn't do his best work on hard courts, there looks to be a fair ability discrepancy - and while I like Ilya Ivashka generally as a player of some potential, if Pablo Carreno-Busta is in decent shape, he should get the win at a similar price.

Fabio Fognini 1280.jpg

Market with plenty of faith on Medvedev

Several big underdogs also look capable of keeping matters close against heavy favourites. Ryan Harrison looks big at 5.609/2, even against the improving and high potential Daniil Medvedev, and the 1.21/5 on the Russian youngster looks a big leap of faith on him from the market.

Harrison is no mug on hard court - his combined hold/break percentage on the surface is over 100% in the last 12 months - and while I do feel that Medvedev's round one opponent, George Harris, has high potential ability, Harrison is an upgrade on the South African, despite being the same price.

Harrison +6.5 games is an interesting spot - the price is a standout 8/11 with the Sportsbook - and the last time the American was priced similarly, against Kevin Anderson at the US Open, he took the bigger name to five sets and easily covered.

Bolt with the potential to go two from two

The other big underdog worth discussing is Alex Bolt (pictured below), with the Australian already getting a win for us this tournament on Tuesday, as he defeated Jack Sock in four sets. Bolt should again get home support for his clash with Gilles Simon, and he looks very under-rated by the market at the current 6.6011/2.

Alex Bolt serve 1280.jpg

Simon's level isn't nearly at his peak now - completely logical given that he's now 34 years of age - and a 12 month combined hold/break percentage of 99.1% for the Frenchman is underwhelming, and not remotely in line with his price of 1.162/13.

Can Bolt go two from two for us on the game handicap? He certainly has a chance. Simon has tended to win hard court Slam matches easily in recent years when priced as a very heavy favourite though, which would be a concern, but it's also worth noting that his level then was a fair bit better than where he's at now.

Simon hasn't won a match particularly easily all season - his four wins in the warm-up events all came in three-setters, while he won by seven games at a similar price against Bjorn Fratangelo in round one. I don't think it's a huge spot, but Bolt with a big +7.5 game head start at 1.768/11 looks my preference for today's recommendation.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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