Alex win gives repeat Bolt out of the blue
The last 16 players into the third round are now known after Thursday's action, which finished at around 13:30 UK time after a very long day four, and readers of this column were celebrating following Alex Bolt's triumph over Gilles Simon.
Not only did the little-known Australian cover the game handicap, he shocked the French veteran with a five-set victory, and his reward is a third round clash with Alexander Zverev on Saturday. The German youngster, Zverev, was another five-set winner, with Jeremy Chardy fighting back from two sets down to level their meeting, while Kei Nishikori needed a final set breaker to see off the threat of Ivo Karlovic.
Thiem defeat the shock of day four
Amongst others, there were also wins for the gamble of the day Milos Raonic, who took three of the four tiebreaks to defeat Stan Wawrinka - who was friendless in the market - by three sets to one, while there were also wins for David Goffin, over Marius Copil, and Novak Djokovic, over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. We did, however, see the exit of Dominic Thiem, with the Austrian retiring when staring defeat in the face against the Australian prospect, Alexei Popyrin.
Favourite Novak Djokovic is now trading at 2.001/1 for the tournament, and he's traded several ticks shorter than this, and after that facile straight-set win over Tsonga, has plenty of justifiable market faith. Of the other players remaining, only Roger Federer, at 6.25/1, Rafa Nadal 8.88/1 and Zverev, priced at 14.013/1, are shorter than 30.029/1.
Schwartzman fatigue the question mark for Berdych clash
Friday's matches are the first eight third round clashes, with events again getting underway at midnight with Tomas Berdych and Diego Schwartzman, and Stefanos Tsitipas versus Nikoloz Basilashvili the opening two meetings.
In the former, Berdych looks short enough at 1.282/7 against a quite competent opponent, albeit one who is coming off the back of an almost four-hour five-setter on Wednesday. Will this impact on Schwartzman's fitness here? It's difficult to know for sure, but at prices I'd prefer to keep the Argentine onside.
Tsitsipas looking short for Basilashvili clash
As for Tsitsipas, I have mentioned that he could be ripe for handicap opposition at some stage in the tournament, and I think that tomorrow's meeting with Basilashvili has some slight potential in this respect.
Bash was another five-set winner, needing to come from 2-1 down to defeat Stefano Travaglia, but it was considerably shorter than Schwartzman's match from a time perspective, coming in at a few minutes shy of three hours. This isn't that much longer than a lengthy best of three set match, so I don't anticipate it having a huge physical toll on the German - Tsitsipas' four-set win over Viktor Troicki was only 15 minutes less in duration.
The Greek prospect is a very short-looking 1.384/11 against one of the most improved players on the ATP Tour - Basilashvili is now a career-high 20th in the world - although I'm not as enthused about the handicap line prices as I hoped they would be. Basilashvili +4.5 is 2.0421/20 on the Exchange, while the bigger +5.5 line is 1.705/7, although I think it will settle in the low 1.70s eventually.
Tsitsipas didn't cover -5.5 against Matteo Berrettini or Viktor Troicki here this week, but covered the -4.5 on both occasions, so if you would like to get involved with opposing Tsitsipas on the game handicap, it might be worthwhile buying that extra game and take +5.5 on Basilashvil, as opposed to +4.5.
Dimitrov again likely to struggle to cover big handicap line
However, the match I would like to focus on for today's recommendation is a repeat of Wednesday's pick, with Grigor Dimitrov again looking short at 1.091/11 against Thomas Fabbiano.
I discussed on Wednesday about Dimitrov's historical difficulty in covering huge handicap lines, and we picked up a solid winner with him failing to cover -7.5 against Pablo Cuevas. He's the same line against Thomas Fabbiano, and I don't see the Italian as a downgrade on hard court compared to Cuevas.
We can get 10/11 on Fabbiano +7.5 games with the Sportsbook, and this is my preferred recommendation for Friday.
De Minaur capable of testing King of Clay
In other matches, I am very much looking forward to Alex De Minaur's match with Rafa Nadal. The King of Clay hasn't been troubled so far this tournament but the rapidly improving Australian is likely to provide his first real test in the event. Nadal looks a little short at 1.132/15 against a player on a huge upward curve.
Roger Federer is also in action against another improver, in the shape of Taylor Fritz. Roger is just 1.071/14 to make it into round four, which again looks a touch on the short side.
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