ATP Australian Open Day 2: Youzhny can turn back the clock

Mikhail Youzhny represents value against Marcos Baghdatis...
Mikhail Youzhny represents value against Marcos Baghdatis...

Day two of the men's Australian Open starts at midnight on Monday - all available on Betfair Live Video - and our tennis columnist Dan Weston is back to run the rule over some of the 32 matches on the overnight schedule...

"My model favoured the Russian, Youzhny, making him marginal favourite instead in what is likely to be quite a return-orientated match with plenty of breaks and in-set swings."

Strong start to the tournament


Followers of this column got their Australian Open off to a solid start overnight, with our formal recommendation Karen Khachanov getting the better of Adrian Mannarino in four sets, while our main underdog fancy Alexander Bublik exploited Lucas Pouille's noted poor physical condition to get past the seeded Frenchman.


In what is expected to be slightly hotter conditions, with temperatures around the low-mid 30s at Melbourne Park, my model indicated value on a number of players, although as yesterday, I recommend caution in first round matches, particularly for larger stakes.


Hard courts favour Donaldson


Of the heavy favourites, I do like the chances of Jared Donaldson against the Brazilian clay-courter, Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, with the young American's career progressing nicely against opponents much better than Dutra Da Silva, who makes his distaste for hard courts clear by his schedule - he has played a mere 11 matches in three years on the surface, and his main draw wins have come on much slower hard courts than he will find in Australia.


In all likelihood, Dutra Da Silva is probably here for the $50,000 first round losers cheque, and my model indicates that it would be huge shock if Donaldson lost tomorrow, pricing him at 1.141/7.


This is much bigger than the current market price of 1.3130/100, and while historical handicap lines are not that clear-cut in best of five sets, it's worth noting that of the 30 sets Donaldson won when priced between 1.201/5 and 1.491/2 on hard court since January 2015, he won 19 by a 6-3 scoreline or better. On this basis, Donaldson should have quite a few options on the game handicap, which finds -6.5 games available at a current 1.9420/21 on the Exchange .


As far as other favourites go, I like the look of Radu Albot against the Argentine clay-courter Carlos Berlocq - whose hard court stats are atrocious - and young-gun Frances Tiafoe against Mikhail Kukushkin, whose stats indicate serious decline.


Underdog value on Youzhny


However, for my second recommendation, I want to look at a match between two veterans of the ATP Tour, Mikhail Youzhny and Marcos Baghdatis. The Cypriot, Baghdatis, starts as favourite, but my model favoured the Russian, Youzhny, at 2.608/5 making him marginal favourite instead in what is likely to be quite a return-orientated match with plenty of breaks and in-set swings.


Youzhny's increasing vulnerability on serve is a big worry, though with him losing 45.1% of first break leads from leading positions since July 2017, and Baghdatis' recovery is strong, getting those deficits back 43.4%. However, this concern is offset a little by Baghdatis' injury issues, having retired against Radek Stepanek with an ankle injury in Doha a fortnight ago. Whilst he got to the semi-finals in Auckland the subsequent week, I am far from convinced that he is at his peak level.


Of the bigger priced underdogs on the card, I've seen worse options than Peter Polansky - 4.407/2against Pablo Carreno-Busta and the huge-serving Reilly Opelka who is a chunky 6.05/1 to beat David Goffin, but for today's recommendations, I'm favouring Donaldson on the handicap and Youzhny.


Recommended Bets
Back Jared Donaldson -6.5 games to beat Rogerio Dutra Da Silva at 1.9420/21
Back Mikhail Youzhny to beat Marcos Baghdatis at 2.608/5


***

Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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