Keeping today very short, sharp and to the point, so as not to overcomplicate things. Let’s go.
Womens – Muguruza vs Crawford
This play certainly isn’t for the feint-hearted, however I just have to attack the price on offer here. I was live at Muguruza’s match on Monday and I was exceptionally underwhelmed at her performance. Her movement was poor, and she didn’t look 100% physically, and it seemed to be playing on her mind throughout the match. After taking the first set 7-5, Muguruza called for the trainer. She quickly fell behind in the second set vs Erakovic, and their was the feeling of desperation in the air as Muguruza looked as though a 3rd set may have been a stretch in her current shape. Initially when she pulled out of Brisbane, I thought she may have just been playing it safe, however after seeing her on Monday, either she is putting it on, or something is up. Muguruza ended with a +3 winner to unforced error differential (27w/24ue), whereas Erakovic had 16 winners and a massive 34 unforced errors. Nearly half of Muguruza’s points won for the day came from unforced errors.
When you consider the form of Muguruza in 2017 to date, it isn’t quite as good as it initially appears. After scraping by Sam Stosur in Brisbane (yes…Sam Stosur in Australia), she needed a backhand to catch the outside of the line to save match point against Kasatkina in a 3rd set TB, then went on to beat Kuznetsova (whom she has the wood over), before retiring hurt down to Alize Cornet. Not the best form coming into a slam.
Samantha Crawford was exceptional in her first round match, coming from a set down to finish Lauren Davis off with a bagel. Her only statistical flaw was 9 double faults across the three sets, however you will notice when you watch Crawford live that she is a very attacking player, and you have to take the unforced errors with the winners. What really impressed me in her win over Davis is that she played well within herself. At times Crawford can be guilty of going for a little bit too much on her groundstrokes, trying to hit winners from here there and everywhere on court. Crawford appeared to realise in her match with Davis that hitting it that hard wasn’t necessary, and set up a number of easy winners using controlled depth, which was quite impressive considering Davis is fresh off a title in Auckland a fortnight ago.
With my concerns around Muguruza, and the way Crawford played on Tuesday, I LOVE the price that is on offer for Crawford to cause the upset tonight. Unless Muguruza’s movement improves significantly, then we get ready for the biggest upset of the fortnight to date.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a value play at the price. On form, physical fitness and matchup, I would have Crawford winning this one out of three occasions. There is the possiblity for her to be overwhelmed by to experience and be absolutely slaughtered. That being said, she has the game to take it to Muguruza, and as such that is why I am selecting Crawford to get the job done here. The possibility of a Muguruza retirement is there also, however I wouldn’t be expecting it.
4.5 units Crawford to defeat Muguruza at $5.95 at Betfair after commission
Womens – Duan vs Lepchenko
Very happy to side with Duan here, who is the form player in this matchup. Duan dropped only 5 games in their previous meeting 12 days ago, and she looked very solid in her straight sets win over highly touted qualifier Sramkova 6-3 6-4, dropping serve only twice along the way. Lepchenko got her second win of the year on Monday, defeating Kiki Bertens (who has also struggled to start 2017) 7-5 7-6 in a topsy turvy affair that resulted in 7 service breaks and a stack of break point opportunities.
Although I don’t generally take a great deal from week-before-a-slam form, I had to take note of their previous meeting here. Duan looks a nice price to get the job done again today.
2 units Duan to defeat Lepchenko at $1.81 at Pinnacle
Womens – Vikhlyantseva vs Pavlyuchenkova
Here we have another name you have to look out for in 2017 in Natalia Vikhlyantseva (yes I have to copy paste her name every time I mention it).
Vikhlyantseva has put together 8 exceptional sets to make her way through qualifying (vs Hantuchova, Sharipova, Krajicek and King), most notably dropping only 5 games against King in round 1, breaking the serve of King 5 times across the two sets. Pavlyuchenkov didn’t have everything her own way in round 1, needing a second set tiebreak to get by Rodina, who actually led 4-2 in the second set.
Having won 11 of her last 13 matches across the WTA levels, Vikhlyantseva will look to exploit Pavlyunchenkova’s poor Australian Open record (never made it out of the third round).That being said, I think Pavlyuchenkova may just have what it takes to get the job done, however it should be a tightly contested affair, making the total over games appeal here.
3 units total games over 20.5 at $1.91 at Pinnacle
Mens – Berdych vs Harrison
Ryan Harrison proved last year that he doesn’t mind the big stage, most notably with his huge win against Milos Raonic at the US Open. Harrison has put together a very solid patch of play to end 2016 and start 2017, bumping his ranking up to 82. It should also be noted this included a tight 3 set loss to his opponent today in Berdych. It was important for him to get to this matchup having expended little energy, and that is what he was able to do with a straight sets win over Mahut.
Unluckily for Harrison though, Berdych spent even less time on court in round 1, with his opponent Vanni retiring after a set. Berdych put together a solid week in Doha to start the year (making quarter finals, losing to Murray), however hasn’t set the world on fire of late.
I expect a Berdych win here, however think it will come in 4 to 5 sets. As a result, I am happy to take the game total overs here.
3.5 units total games over 36.5 at $1.90 at Sportsbet
Mens – Khachanov vs Sock
Here we have the speedbump Sock faltered at 12 months ago – the second round of the Australian Open, and he would have hoped for a much gentler opponent to be coming up against.
When you analyse the stats of the first round match between Herbert and Sock, the win appears far more straightforward than in actually was. Although Sock was only broken once, he found himself in a numer of 15/30 and 30/30 situations, far more than usual, meaning his serve was regularly under pressure against the Frenchman. Herbert was unable to capitalise on his countless opportunities, however I think Khachanov won’t be making the same mistakes of the Frenchman.
Sock has played a LOT of tennis over the last fortnight. Full week in Perth then over to Auckland for a full week and then back to Melbourne. That much tennis isn’t always the best preparation for a player, especially when playing best of 5 set tennis, against one of the up and coming stars of the game.
I love the price on offer for Khachanov here, so will take a combination of the h2h price as well as the game handicap, in what should be a great match to watch.
3.5 units Khachanov +4.5 games at $1.80 at Betfair after commission (+4 games also value)
1.5 units Khachanov h2h at $3.33 at Betfair after commission
Womens – Suarez Navarro vs Cirstea
Market overreaction to Suarez Navarro defeating an injured Cepelova in the first round. I am more than happy to have a nibble at the odds on offer for Cirstea after her round 1 win, and the $3+ around in most places represents value in my eyes.
2 units Cirstea to win at $3 and Unibet ($2.98 Pinnacle)
Chase The Ace Suggestions:
Plays Coming Soon
Evans vs Cilic
Muguruza vs Crawford
Kyrgios vs Seppi