Bolt somehow fails to cover the handicap on mixed day one
It was a mixed bag for us on day one with Mackenzie McDonald getting the better of Elias Ymer in relatively straightforward fashion to give us a nice winner, but somehow Alex Bolt failed to cover the +5.5 games against Viktor Troicki despite taking the first two sets and being 3-0 up in the deciding set.
Our outright pick, Marin Cilic, in an attempt to take on a rusty Rafa, got past lucky loser Vasek Pospisil to make it through relatively unscathed into round two.
Big names with injury doubts begin their campaigns on day two
Day two sees the remaining first round matches played, and promises to be a fascinating day with Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic - among others - being big names with something to prove from a fitness perspective. We also get to see Roger Federer in action, as he takes on Aljaz Bedene, and Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin Del Potro also take to the courts on what is going to be an action-packed card.
The market isn't at all convinced about Wawrinka, making the Swiss player a seemingly generous 1.625/8 to get past the Lithuanian, Ricardas Berankis, who hasn't got much of a level outdoors. This price is a mark of the suspicions about Wawrinka's fitness, and if he's remotely fit will make a mockery of such a line.
Donskoy likely to be too good for declining Mayer
Having prepared for the majority of first round matches on Saturday, there were two matches that I've had in mind to discuss here, and these are Evgeny Donskoy against Florian Mayer, and Soon-Woo Kwon versus Jan-Lennard Struff.
Effectively, we will be taking on both the higher profile German players - in the former, I'm amazed to see Donskoy as big as 1.715/7 against Mayer, who has exhibited a very poor level on hard courts in the last year.
At main tour level in the last 12 months, Mayer is 1-6, winning a terrible 29.5% of points on return - his 60.3% service points won also is nothing special, and if we extend to 24 months, he's 1-9, with even worse overall data. In that time period, Donskoy has won 3.2% more points on serve, and 5.2% more on return, making available prices very generous indeed on the Russian.
Both players have mediocre records in best of five set matches in recent years, with Mayer winning just two Grand Slam matches since 2014 (one via retirement). Suspicions of the ageing Mayer not being the fittest player on tour will be tested with a long match tomorrow.
Korean prospect Kwon under-rated by the market against Struff
In the second match-up, I'm very surprised to see Kwon such a big price at 4.407/2 against Struff, with the German doing his best work indoors. Certainly, a combined serve/return points won percentage outdoors on hard court in the last 12 months of 96.5% for Struff is nothing special, but it's worth noting that this is Kwon's first ever main tour match, having been given a wild card.
However, what the 20 year old South Korean lacks in experience he can make up for in ability, with outdoor hard being his preferred surface. He's 25-11 in the last 12 months on the surface, with a number of runs to the latter stages in Challenger events. Struff deserves to be favourite, but Kwon is insulted by the market prices. We can get evens on Kwon +5.5 with the Sportsbook, and that has to be worthy of consideration.
Haase among those vulnerable as heavy favourites on Tuesday
In other matches, the serve-orientated Lorenzo Sonego could have a solid chance of pushing heavy favourite Robin Haase, while other short-priced favourites who look a little vulnerable include Fabio Fognini, Hyeon Chung, Karen Khachanov and Jiri Vesely. We also get to see whether the Alex De Minaur 2018 train will be derailed by Tomas Berdych, with the Czech a justified 1.4640/85 favourite to do so.
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