Australian Open Men's Singles Day Six: Veteran Benneteau can continue his run against Fognini

Roger Federer takes a 16-2 head to head lead into his match with Richard Gasquet...
Roger Federer takes a 16-2 head to head lead into his match with Richard Gasquet...
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As third round action continues at the Australian Open on Saturday, there are a further eight matches on day six at Melbourne Park. After another winner on Friday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to discuss tomorrow's schedule...

"Benneteau already has David Goffin in his list of scalps this year and can add Fognini to the list, with the serve and return data on hard court across the last 12 months showing little to split the duo."

Schwartzman defeats Dolgopolov on day of oppressive heat

In what has been a strong tournament so far for followers, we bagged another winner from my recommendation on Friday with Diego Schwartzman - despite his status as a slight underdog - never really looking in danger after losing the first set to Alexandr Dolgopolov on a tiebreak. The Argentine's 'reward' is a meeting with Rafa Nadal on Sunday.

Friday's other matches saw two epics - Kyle Edmund's comeback victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili in oppressive heat, and Andreas Seppi's 9-7 triumph in the final set against Ivo Karlovic - while among the other matches, Nick Kyrgios' win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw the Australian win all three tiebreaks that took place, in a 3-1 victory in what was a high quality encounter.


Cilic price kept high by Nadal form

Our outright hope, Marin Cilic, progressed in straight sets at the expense of Ryan Harrison, but his price is currently held high by Rafa Nadal - they are in the same quarter. The Spaniard's level is higher than anticipated and he crushed Damir Dzumhur for the loss of just five games.

Saturday's eight matches will decide who joins today's winners in the fourth round, and the markets seem relatively accurate in their pricing - with one exception.


Benneteau statistically similar to Fognini

This is Julien Benneteau, who is a heavy underdog at [3.25] against the volatile Italian, Fabio Fognini, in what is the veteran Frenchman's final Australian Open. Benneteau already has David Goffin in his list of scalps this year and can add Fognini to the list, with the serve and return data on hard court across the last 12 months showing little to split the duo.

Indeed, my model priced Fognini at [1.88], illustrating that there isn't much to choose between the two players, and on hard court Grand Slams when priced between [1.20] and [1.50], Fognini hasn't necessarily justified his prices. Only twice - against Horacio Zeballos this year, and Andrey Golubev, in 2014, has he won in straight sets, from seven matches, and he's only covered the -4.5 game handicap on three occasions.

The Exchange handicap market is still forming, but if we can get in excess of [2.00] on the Frenchman with that +4.5 game head start, this looks like decent value in a match that I anticipate to be much closer than the market expects.


Improving Chung not without a chance against Zverev

Other matches on the card are also fascinating, with Hyeon Chung's realisation of his huge potential reflected in his market price against Alexander Zverev - the German is currently the [1.64] favourite, while there are two matches with low profile players competing to make it into round four, which would be a magnificent achievement for them.

These see Maximilian Marterer edge favouritism against Tennys Sandgren, while Marton Fucsovics is a heavy favourite against Nicolas Kicker. A victory for the Argentine, Kicker, would see him be the worst player into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for quite some time, from a surface hold/break perspective.

We also see Dominic Thiem take a 6-0 head to head lead into his clash with Adrian Mannarino - this is the factor which makes the market pricing accurate - while Tomas Berdych is a slight underdog against Juan Martin Del Potro.


Federer and Djokovic with big head to head advantages over opponents

Finally, in the later matches, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are heavy favourites against Albert Ramos and Richard Gasquet respectively. Both also take dominant head to head records into their matches and defeat for either would be a major shock.


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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings


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