Welcome to the 5th day of the Australian Open previews – let’s get stuck into it.
Dolgopolov vs Schwartzman
Diego Schwartzman is an interesting player, who some may argue is getting the absolute most out of his talent/size at the moment, and I absolutely tend to agree. Schwartzman however has had a pretty poor start to 2018 when you consider how well he was playing in 2017 at times. After losing to Dolgopolov in Brisbane (who also happens to be his opponent today), Schwartzman did then go on to lose to Feliciano Lopez in straight sets as well in Sydney.
Now i will admit, I thought this was just Schwartzman finding his feet early in the season, as some players do take a couple of matches for things to click for the year. That is why I went ahead and took Schwartzman to cover the -5.5 games on offer in round 1 against Dusan Lajovic, a flashy player who unfortunately has been very out of form for quite a while now. Even with the poor form, Lajovic actually led Schwartzman 2 sets to 1, and it took Schwartzman over 4 hours, and 11 service breaks EACH, before he prevailed 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 11-9. Schwartzman was only able to win 50% of points on his second serve, which when under 60% of your first serves are going in, is not a particularly flattering stat, and indicates you may be pressured on serve fairly regularly.
Schwartzman got incredibly lucky in his second round, coming up against Grand Slam newcomer Casper Ruud, coming off his first ever Grand Slam match that also went to 11-9 in the 5th set. Schwartzman being far more experienced in coming back from long matches, had no trouble dispactching Ruud in straight sets, but AGAIN, won less that 50% of points on his second serve across the match. My fear for Schwartzman is: If Lajovic and Schwartzman can win over half of points on his second serve, then what on earth is Dolgopolov going to do to it?
We got a bit of an indication of just what Dolgopolov might do to his second serve in Brisbane, where he won 13 of 24 points on Schwartzman’s second ball in the second set. He started to get a better read on it. After the first three service games flew by in the first set from each player, Dolgopolov started to get a feel for things. From that point on, every game bar one (Schwartzman’s last), resulted in all of Diego’s service games going 6 points or longer (including being broken twice).
Dolgopolov really impressed me with how he handled the situation on Wednesday night, where he handled Matt Ebden and the Aussie crowd incredibly well. There was a moment where that match could have really gone against him, when Ebden found himself serving for the first set at *6-5, and Dolgopolov having extended dialogue with the chair umpire. To his credit, Dolgopolov then went on to win the next 11 points of the match (break Ebden to love, then win tiebreak 7-0), and from there he was never really headed.
If there is one type of player that Schwartzman still does struggle against on hardcourt, it the the bigger, heavier hitters, especially in the heat. He has retired here in the past in the extreme heat (full body cramps against Millman two years ago), and I think the added zip off the courts that comes with the temperature being over 30 degrees (which it still should be even with the cool change later), this match is absolutely on the racquet of Dolgopolov. And after watching his racquet on Wednesday, and you consider now the Dolgopolov form is stacking up around his 3 set losses to Kyrgios and Fognini, then I am all in for Dolgopolov here to make it through to the 4th round.
5 units Dolgopolov to defeat Schwartzman at $1.77 at Pinnacle
suarez navarro vs kanepi
Now there is only one style of match-up in which I will ever find myself making an incredibly strong case in favour of backing Carla Suarez Navarro, and this is the case I am happy to present today.
The best match up that works of CSN is playing against big hitters who absolutely have no plan B – and here we are with Kaia Kanepi. No doubt Kanepi is playing some great tennis of late, but whenever you watch her you cannot help but get the feeling that there is no back up plan in action, except for maybe trying to hit is a little harder.
I felt Timea Babos had slightly more variety to her game than Kanepi, which is why I wasn’t as keen of CSN that night, ultimately siding with Babos, however today things are far more clear cut to favour Suarez Navarro. She isn’t worried by the heat (and yes I know a cool change is on the way, but it will still be over 30 degrees at the time of play), and I really like her ability to provide constant variety with spin, pace and angles.
If Suarez Navarro loses the first set, I still think she is a great chance of wearing down Kanepi in these conditions. Since 2015 at the Australian Open, CSN has a 2-3 record when losing the first set, and if this match goes three sets, I will certainly be siding with the Spaniard the longer the match goes.
The craft, the angles, the fitness. I think it is enough to overcome Kanepi here. Hopefully they can get on court before the cool change as well!
Let’s go Carla!
5 units Suarez Navarro to defeat Kanepi at $2.74 at Pinnacle
Linette vs Allertova
Short one here, but I think I have found a little bit of late value to start off day 5. I think the bookmakers have severely overestimated Allertova’s win against Zhang, I mean after all we saw what the stats suggested about Zhang playing against taller players didn’t we? Allertova did what she was supposed to against Zhang, ultimately prevailing in straight sets.
Linette presents a bit of an interesting dilemma. She did hurt her ankle against Kasatkina, which is obviously a concern (although someone with a bigger injury in Halep seemed to be okay yesterday). But I am backing in that it isn’t TOO bad, as she did play, and win, in the doubles yesterday which would give her confidence. What it may also present to us is that Linette may also go for a little bit more on her groundstrokes if her movement is every so slightly hindered, which again would not be a bad thing, and here’s why.
Look through the last few losses that Allertova has had: Bencic, Bertens, Fett, Babos, Hogenkamp, Osaka, Makarova, Vondrousova and Kr Pliskova – all some of the bigger hitters of the tennis ball. If Linette can put up some more of that late 2017 form (beat Bondarenko, Gavrilova, Kontaveit, Siniakova, and lost a tight 3 setter to Muguruza), then she is well and truly in this one. In standard conditions, if you take away the exploits of the last week and looked over a larger sample size, I would price Linette up here at $1.70, so we are getting a great price.
The ankle is a worry, but it is a risk I am willing to take at the price.
4 units Linette to defeat Allertova at $2.48 at Pinnacle (I would try and go for Bet365/Crownbet or any that refund on retirement just in case, however for the sake of this bet and if she were to retire, it would be included in the record as a loss)