ATP Australian Open Day 3: Wawrinka under-rated against Johnson

Stan Wawrinka can celebrate a win over Steve Johnson
Stan Wawrinka can celebrate a win over Steve Johnson

Wednesday signals day three of the Australian Open, and with 16 round two matches in the men's event to get our teeth into, our tennis columnist Dan Weston looks for some value selections...

"Johnson has only broken opponents 13.0% on hard court in the last 12 months, and it's fair to say that if he wins sets in this match, it's likely to be via tiebreaks or single breaks."

Injury-Hit Tuesday


My recommendations on Tuesday were scuppered by injury, with Jared Donaldson somehow losing our -6.5 game handicap bet despite winning the first two sets by a total of nine games - a left leg injury hampering the young American. A similar ailment hampered Mikhail Youzhny as he retired against Marcos Baghdatis.


As I recommended throughout the first round, keeping stakes low for each player's opener was vital, and we can get back on track tonight in what are anticipated to be much cooler conditions at Melbourne Park.


Berdych unlikely to win sets easily


Ryan Harrison eased into round two with a straight-sets win over Nicolas Mahut on Monday, and my model indicated value on the American in that match. Value was also shown today, with Harrison priced at a current 6.005/1 against the Czech, Tomas Berdych.

Berdych's hold/break statistics have taken a huge hit on return in the last six months, with him breaking 21.9% on hard court in the last 12 months.

This in itself is unimpressive, but this figure drops to 16.7% in the last six months, which is around 6% worse than the ATP average - an very poor figure for a top 10 player.

Indeed, even though Berdych is 4-1 this year in competitive matches, he's still broken opponents less than 20%, and against an in-form player who has held serve over 80% in the last 12 months, it's realistic to assume that Harrison can keep the match close, at the very least.

Harrison with a 5.5 game head start is available on the Exchange at 2.0421/20 and I've seen many worse handicap propositions.


Wawrinka can get campaign back on track

Stan Wawrinka had his back against the wall against Martin Klizan in the first round, having to recover from a break down in the final set against the inconsistent Slovakian left-hander, but Klizan played out of his skin in that match, belying his atrocious recent hard court record.

Following this, the market has seen fit to underrate the Swiss player, who tends to reserve his best tennis for Grand Slam events, and currently go 1.351/3 about Wawrinka to get past the serve-orientated Steve Johnson, who I've mentioned as being extremely overrated many times in the past.

Johnson has only broken opponents 13.0% on hard court in the last 12 months, and it's fair to say that if he wins sets in this match, it's likely to be via tiebreaks or single breaks. Given this, even a 3-1 set win from Wawrinka has a solid chance of covering -4.5 games, which is currently available at 1.834/5 via the Sportsbook.

I'm also keen to see how the young prospect, Karen Khachanov, fares against Jack Sock. The Russian earned us a solid win on Monday against Adrian Mannarino but faces a significantly better opponent tomorrow. It wouldn't be a shock to see the NextGen star push the higher-ranked American, but for the overnight round two matches, I'm sticking with Harrison and Wawrinka on handicaps.


Recommended Bets
Back Ryan Harrison +5.5 games to beat Tomas Berdych at 2.0421/20
Back Stan Wawrinka -4.5 games to beat Steve Johnson on the Sportsbook at 1.834/5

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