Australian Open Men's Singles Day Four: Donskoy unlikely to be outclassed by Fognini
The second round of the men's singles concludes on Thursday, and after some magnificent clashes on Wednesday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is expecting more of the same...
"Certainly, the Italian, who has held serve 74.8% on hard in the last 12 months, breaking 24.8% (combined 99.6%) is far from top level on the surface, and therefore taking him on looks mandatory at these prices."
Dimitrov taken to the brink by qualifier McDonald
Again, it was one from two in the men's this week with heavy underdog Marcos Baghdatis unable to quite capitalise on the vociferous home support against Andrey Rublev, but Nikoloz Basilashvili eased past Ruben Bemelmans in a market 'pick em' match to keep us going.
With Grigor Dimitrov avoiding a shock in a superb five setter against Mackenzie McDonald, there were four men's matches concluded in a deciding fifth set, with Ivo Karlovic's 12-10 win over Yuichi Sugita another epic. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed all his experience to get past Denis Shapovalov, while Gilles Muller was the other big-server prevailing in a decider.
Djokovic among heavy favourites in action on day four
We also saw wins for Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios and Rafa Nadal on day three, and their main rivals are in action on Thursday, with Roger Federer facing the German, Jan-Lennard Struff, and Novak Djokovic bringing a 14-0 head to head lead into his match-up with the enigmatic Frenchman, Gael Monfils. Both are heavy favourites to proceed into round three.
Donskoy again offering value in round two
On Tuesday we profited from Evgeny Donskoy eliminating Florian Mayer, and I'm looking towards the Russian to give Fabio Fognini a tough time in his next match. Fognini, being the bigger name player, will not be as comfortable on hard courts, but the market sees fit to price him at [1.36] despite the two players having pretty similar hard court data.
Certainly, the Italian, who has held serve 74.8% on hard in the last 12 months, breaking 24.8% (combined 99.6%) is far from top level on the surface, and therefore taking him on looks mandatory at these prices. The Sportsbook is 4/6 on Donskoy +6.5 games on the handicap, a line that Fognini has covered just once in six Grand Slam hard court matches when priced between 1.20 and 1.50 in his career.
Marterer under-rated due to poor break point performance
The other spot I really like is Maximilian Marterer against Fernando Verdasco, with the Spaniard priced at [1.32] despite frequently doing things the hard way these days - Tuesday's win over Roberto Bautista-Agut, who may have been fatigued following his title on Sunday, was an exception - and regular readers may be aware that I'm keen to look at players with potential for mean reversion.
The young German, Marterer, is certainly a candidate for this, but in a positive way. He's won just one time in 11 appearances on the main tour in the last 12 months, but is performing 4.9% below expectation on break points on serve, and 1.9% below on return, so he has plenty of scope for improvement, assuming that he's not one of the weakest players, mentally, on tour.
Similar to Fognini, Verdasco has had historical issues in covering big handicap lines when a heavy favourite in Grand Slam matches, and we can consider Marterer +5.5 games at evens with the Sportsbook.
Goffin and Gasquet look short as heavy favourites
In other matches, David Goffin looks very short at [1.11] against the French veteran, Julien Benneteau, while Lorenzo Sonego is likely to give Richard Gasquet a better match than the market anticipates.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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Back Evgeny Donskoy +6.5 games to beat Fabio Fognini at 4/6
Back Maximilian Marterer +5.5 games to beat Fernando Verdasco at Evens