There are eight further third round matches at the US Open this evening, with players competing to make the last 16. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, discusses the schedule...
"In the last 12 months on hard court, the Australian has produced the better data, winning 63.5% of points on serve to Kukushkin’s 60.7%, and 40.8% to 37.7% on return."
Nadal progress with tough win over Khachanov
After Rafa Nadal made it through to round four after a hard-fought four set win over Karen Khachanov last night, it's the turn of fellow market leaders Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to face third round opposition.
Gasquet with major problems against Djokovic previously
Wimbledon champion Djokovic faces Richard Gasquet in his match, and as I've mentioned previously, Gasquet has a horrific record against the elite four in general. In fact, he's 13-1 down in head to head matches against Djokovic, having won just one set since his solitary victory in 2007, and it's evident where the Frenchman's problems lie - he's won just 56.9% of points on serve against the Serb in these head to head encounters.
It's pretty difficult to envisage this dynamic particularly changing today. Djokovic does look several ticks short at [1.08] but nothing remotely actionable, and I'd be pretty surprised if Gasquet was able to get his second career victory over the former world number one this evening.
Kyrgios can push Federer if his mind is on
Conversely, Federer has had more difficulty against his opponent, Nick Kyrgios, in previous meetings. While Federer has won three of their four meetings, including the last three, of the eleven completed sets, nine have been settled by tiebreaks - both players have held serve in excess of 90% in these historical head to head matches.
Having said this, it's reasonable to question which version of Kyrgios will turn up. Will it be the huge talent, capable of playing lights out tennis and able to compete with elite-level opposition, or will it be the sulky, immature version that was in evidence in the first half of his match against Pierre-Hugues Herbert? It is this question that makes the market price of Federer, which stands at a current [1.33], about right.
Other heavy favourites in action today include Marin Cilic, against Alex De Minaur, as well as David Goffin, who faces Jan-Lennard Struff. Both underdogs will consider themselves capable of a good showing - De Minaur is a player of high potential while Struff is a competent ATP Tour regular facing a player with some doubts over his fitness. In addition, Alexander Zverev is similarly priced in the sub [1.20] bracket, as he takes on Phillip Kohlschreiber in an all-German clash.
Millman with a decent edge over Kukushkin
For purposes of value, I do like the chances of Diego Schwartzman at [2.94] against Kei Nishikori, who hasn't recorded stellar hard court stats this year whatsoever, but after a slight drift, I do like the [1.76] about John Millman, as he faces Mikhail Kukushkin.
In the last 12 months on hard court, the Australian has produced the better data, winning 63.5% of points on serve to Kukushkin's 60.7%, and 40.8% to 37.7% on return, and I priced him at [1.60] for the win here, making current market lines some value - I'm pretty surprised Kukushkin is getting a little market support.
The final match of the eight on tonight's card sees Lucas Pouille face Joao Sousa, with the Frenchman [1.56] to progress. I made this about right, so we'll stick to Millman this evening as Saturday's recommendation.
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