The first round is upon us! It is time to see who has made improvements over the off-season. All players have taken different routes in the first fortnight of the season, but they all have one main goal: to go as deep as they can into the Australian Open.
Some players will have played three qualifying matches in Melbourne before Monday even hits! Others will be playing their first tournament match for the year on Monday. It is always good to know what your player has been up to of late.
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter at @Ace_TheProfits for live tweets and in-play information
Read all of my pre-tournament articles including including a seed by seed analysis and the men’s draw analysis by visiting the Tennis category page.
I thought it would be best to start off by explaining some of the promotions agencies are going with for the Australian Open.
Sportsbet – 5 Set Refund -> In the Australian Open, if you H2H selection goes down in 5 sets, your stake will be refunded up to $100. As a result, the H2H odds are trimmed slightly, but it can definitely be worth sacrificing a few cents for security when your player enters the fifth set! We did the research, 27 of the 127 matches last year went to 5 sets with 18 of the winners being the match favourites.
Betfair – 50% winning bonus on Multibets -> A quick look at the terms and conditions shows the multi must be at least $6, and total bonuses from the Open will not exceed $500. Still though, for those who love multi betting, it is the place to do it. We will try and find some good value multi bets for you on Betfair as the fortnight evolves!
Luxbet – First bet bonus bet refund -> After entering the code LUXTEN, place a Head to Head bet on any Tennis tournament and if it loses, Luxbet will match your stake with a bonus bet of up to $100. Just enter LUXTEN on your My Account page.
Sportingbet – 25% Multibet bonus -> 25% bonus on multis of 4 legs or more (minimum $6 odds, min $10 stake, min $1.20 legs)
Tom Waterhouse – First set winner money back guarantee -> If your player wins the first set of their singles match, but doesn’t go on to win, your money is refunded up to $25.
A quick note on a few markets to avoid – ‘First Set Score’ is one of the most ridiculous markets out there. Unless you are betting 6-0 in women’s tennis, this is a market to be avoided. Why bet on something that closes before the coin toss, when the coin toss is so crucial to the market? Let me explain. You take Djokovic to win the first set 6-4 vs Andy Murray at $4. Djokovic elects to receive, and you only require him to break serve once at any point in the set. Djokovic elects to serve, you have yourself a whole new problem. You have just bet way unders on Djokovic breaking serve in exactly the 10th game of the set. As you can see, a heavy reliance on the toss off the coin.
The second market is first set total over/under 9.5 games. Means the first server to break once, or the second server to have to break twice to go under 9.5. Unless you like a 7-5 or 7-6 result, it is also a tricky market to attack with any statistical advantage.
Here are a few future bets that stand out as a bit of value:
Top Australian -> Lleyton Hewitt ($2.63) and James Duckworth ($23)
Being realistic here, Sportsbet are betting $1.63 that Tomic will be the only Australian to make it beyond the second round. Tomic isn’t the value here.
It’ll take a bit of luck, but hear me out. IF Hewitt wins vs Tipsaravic, it is highly likely that Hewitt makes at least the 4th round, possibly further. Therefore to take $2.63 is solid.
Now onto Duckworth….this is more of a ‘if Hewitt loses’ approach to the market. James Duckworth, if he plays like he did in Sydney, should easily account for Ben Mitchell round 1. Round 2 he would come up against Thomaz Bellucci, who is one of the more vulnerable seeds in the draw. Home court, home crowd, and a confident Duckworth could cause the upset. Tomic is highly unlikely to go beyond the 3rd round, so the $23 odds would be halved to $11.50.
Stage of Elimination
Lleyton Hewitt ->
- Round 4 ($15.25 at Sportingbet) – projected Almagro
- Quarter Final ($10) – Projected Ferrer
- QUARTER WINNER ($27)
The bookies have adjusted the odds for his match vs Tipsaravic, but they have left the odds in this market alone If Hewitt gets passed the first round, he will face Lacko/Muller round 2, and Dimitrov/Benneteau round 3. He will most likely start favourite in those 2 matches, meaning the 4th round or beyond beckons. If this occurs, one of the $15, $10 or $27 tip is guaranteed to win. Not for the feint hearted, but you could be handsomely rewarded.
Victor Hanescu under 12.5 games (Vs Nishikori) $1.80 at Sportsbet
John Millman -1.5 sets (Vs Ito) at $1.72 at Sportsbet
BEST CHANCE OF UPSET
Arnau Brugues-Davi (vs Feliciano Lopez) at $4.50+ ($4 with 5 set refund)
Reister (vs Rufin)
Malisse (vs Andujar)
Nishikori 3-0 (vs Hanescu)
Verdasco (vs Goffin)
Millman (vs Ito)
5 legs -> $6.88 making it eligible for 50% bonus
If after further legs, Donskoy (vs Ungur) and Kamke (vs Cipolla)
OTHER BETS (CONFIDENCE %)
Hewitt -2.5 games (vs Tipsaravic) at $2.78 at Sportsbet (65%)
Hewitt First Set Winner (vs Tipsaravic) at $2.05 at Sportingbet (60%)
Mathieu (vs Djokovic) under 8.5 games at $1.83 at Sportsbet (70%)
Bruguers-Davi +7 $1.92 at Betstar (65%)
Kamke -1.5 sets (vs Cipolla) at $1.72 at Sportsbet (70%)
Malisse 3-0 (vs Andujar) at $2 at Sportsbet (65%) – Saver Malisse 3-1
Verdasco h2h (vs Goffin) at $1.60 (5 set refund) and -1.5 sets ($2) at Sportsbet (70%)
Bautista-Agut h2h vs Fognini at $1.95 at Sportsbet (if using 5 set refund. $2+ elsewhere) – 60%
Reister -1.5 sets (vs Rufin) at $1.91 at Sportsbet (75%)
Ferrer/Rochus under 27.5 games at $1.80 at Sportsbet (65%)
Ramos/Baghdatis under 31.5 games at $1.80 at Sportsbet (65%)
Authom -1.5 sets (vs Berlocq) at $2.20 at Sportsbet (60%)
Almagro/Johnson ‘Yes – a tie break will be played’ at $1.83 at Bet365 (65%)
Dimitrov/Benneteau over 3.5 sets at $1.50 at Sportsbet (85%)
Bemelmans h2h (vs Roger-Vasselin) at $1.73 at Sportsbet (If you’d like 5 set refund) – 65%
INDIVIDUAL MATCH PREVIEWS
Match 1: Novak Djokovic  vs Paul-Henri Mathieu
H2H: Djokovic leads 4-1 (3-0 on hardcourt)
- Djokovic has won 14 in a row at the Australian Open
- Mathieu has lost 14 in a row against Top 10 players
- Djokovic conceded 2 games in Rd 1 2012, and 5 games in 2011.
Summary: Not the best draw for Mathieu. Djokovic is generally a ruthless machine in the early stages of Grand Slams, rarely giving a player a look-in. Where some top seeds like to cruise in the early stages and just do what they have to do, Djokovic goes for the jugular straight away.
Suggested Bet: Mathieu under 8.5 games at $1.83 at Sportsbet
Match 2: Ryan Harrison vs Santiago Giraldo
H2H: Santiago Giraldo leads 2-0 (1-0 on hardcourt, 6-2 6-1 15/3/12)
- Santiago Giraldo has lost 4 of his last 5 matches on hardcourt
- Harrsion is 0-3 at the Australian Open
Summary: Harrison looks as though he will be starting this one the favourite, after defeating a clearly hampered John Isner in Sydney. There have been big wraps on this kid for a while now and he is failing to deliver. Sure, he has won 5 of his last 6 on hardcourt, but 3 of those were qualifiers, one was by default, and one was against Isner. He is 3-9 in his last 12 ATP level matches, and he is the favourite here.
Harrison’s attitude can get a hold of him. Here is a perfect example of how his emotion can be harnessed in the wrong way (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IzJ9yA6XXw). If you have a watch of that clip, you’ll notice that occurred during an exhibition event.
On the other hand, Giraldo isn’t the best on hardcourt either, however his performance against Milos Raonic at the US Open stands out in my mind. Giraldo put everything he had into that match, pushing Raonic to 5 sets. He even lead 2 sets to 1, but just couldn’t snag that vital break to get the job done. It is gutsy performances like that you want to see from players you are backing.
Predicted Winner: Santiago Giraldo
Suggested Bet: No Bet
Why? Hard to know which Harrison will turn up. The temperament of a child may fuel Harrison, but it could also absolutely destroy him.
Match 3: Feliciano Lopez vs Arnau Brugues-Davi
H2H: No previous meetings
- Lopez has lost 5 of the last 6 overall
- Brugues-Davi has lost 5 of last 6 vs left handers
- Brugues-Davi has won 5 of last 6 vs big servers
Summary: You have to give Brugues-Davi a lot of credit. He won all three qualifying matches at odds of $2.22 (6-3 6-2), $1.83 (7-5 4-6 6-3) and $2.60 (6-1 6-3). This however is a step up.
You should always be cautious when qualifiers are involved round 1. Remember they have three games under their belt. They have got a feel for the court, the surroundings, and in situations like this they have nothing to lose.
Scrolling through some of Brugues-Davi’s results on the Challenger circuit last year, you will see some losses to players who have started to make the next step. Players like David Goffin, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Aljaz Bedene, Jerzy Janowicz and Roberto Bautista Agut. Looking at these matches, he hasn’t been entirely disappointing.
Across his career, Feliciano Lopez has come up against qualifiers in the first round of a Grand Slam on 9 occasions, going 7-2. The interesting part here is in none of these wins has Lopez covered the 7.5 line that has been posted for this match (note: line was 7.5 at time of writing).
Going further, in his 11 wins vs qualifiers in round 1 or 2 of a Grand Slam in his career, Lopez has only won twice in straight sets, with 4 going to 4 sets and 5 the distance. Of those 11 wins, he once again has not covered the -7.5 line.
Lopez doesn’t have great form. He has been pushed to the limit early before, and has been knocked off round 1 in shocks. I wouldn’t put it beyond him to lose here to, or make a meal of it and stumble over the line in 5 sets. That, combined with the lack of coverage of big lines in the past, makes the +7 games handicap look pretty solid.
Suggested Bet: Brugues-Davi +7 at $1.92 at Betstar
Match 4: Viktor Troicki vs Radek Stepanek 
H2H: Stepanek leads 4-3 (Stepanek 3-2 on hardcourt, with one retirement)
- Troicki has lost 5 of his last 6 matches
- Stepanek has only gone beyond the 1st round at the Australian Open once in the last 5 years.
Summary: The early money in this match has come for Troicki. The main reason is due to Stepanek lasting less than a service game in Sydney before retiring with an intercostal strain. Although it seems minimal, an intercostal strain can have a massive impact on your game. Every time you serve, every time you hit a smash, every time you lunge for a ball, it is going to cause problems.
Troicki is in the middle of a horror run. He defeated Bjorn Phau in Doha in 3 tight sets (Phau then lost 0-6 1-6 to Nieminen in Sydney), before he was comprehensively outplayed by Lukas Lacko 3-6 5-7.
Suggested Bet: Will be curious to see if this match goes ahead. If backing Troicki, I suggest doing so somewhere where they pay out on retirements after the first set (eg. Betfair). If backing Stepanek, do so somewhere where you will be refunded if he retires. This is a match I am avoiding altogether.
Match 5: Tobias Kamke vs Flavio Cipolla
H2H: Kamke leads 3-1 (Kamke 2-0 on hardcourt)
- Cipolla has lost 4 of his last 5 at Grand Slam level
- Kamke has lost 4 in a row at Grand Slam level
- Kamke has won 4 of last 5 matches
- Cipolla has lost 4 of last 5 matches
Summary: Both players made it to the second round last year, but one player was certainly more impressive. Tobias Kamke has showed glimpses of late. He lost 6-8 in the fifth set to Dolgopolov, in what would have been a massive upset.
Here is one of the key reasons why Kamke is going off favourite. Their last three head to heads (all since 7/11/11) have gone the way of Kamke, all in straight sets. The main one to look at is their last hardcourt matchup, on 9/1/12. What stands out most here is Kamke was able to win comfortably, even with Cipolla serving at a sensational 77% of first serves in. Of those first serves, he only won 54% of points and 42% on second serve. That suggests that if he isn’t getting cheap points on his first serve, he is going to consistently pressured to hold serve.
Predicted Winner: Tobias Kamke
Suggested Bet: Tobias Kamke -1.5 sets at $1.72 at Sportsbet
Why? Recent form, plus recent head to head success, all points to this being a Kamke win. The -1.5 sets options allows Kamke to drop a set but still cover the bet.
Match 6: Juan Monaco  vs Andrey Kuznetsov
H2H: Never previously met
- Monaco has lost 4 of the last 5 matches
- Monaco has lost 5 of the last 6 matches on hardcourt.
- Kuznetsov has lost 4 in a row on hardcourt
Summary: The money in this match has come for Kuznetsov, in from $5.76 to $4.20. I find that a bit strange, considering he has only ever beaten two players in the top 100 (Baghdatis on clay and Granollers on Hard). While Monaco hasn’t had the best preparation, you’d think if he didn’t think he was up to playing, he wouldn’t have made the trip out.
Prior to this losing streak (vs Tipsaravic, Hewitt, Verdasco and Baghdatis), Monaco did win the ATP Kuala Lumpur tournament in September, defeating Nishikori and Benneteau along the way.
Predicted Winner: Monaco (or retirement)
Suggested Bet: Monaco may prove a solid multi leg component at around $1.27.
Match 7: Kevin Anderson vs Paolo Lorenzi
H2H: Anderson leads 1-0 (1-0 on hardcourt)
- Kevin Anderson has won 11 in a row when priced at under $1.20
- Lorenzi has lost 5 in a row at the Australian Open
- Lorenzi has lost 5 in a row at Grand Slams
Summary: If Anderson is feeling good off his finals appearance in Sydney, you’d anticipate this to be one way traffic. Their previous head to head meeting was in July of last year, with Anderson getting the crucial break in both sets on the way to a 6-4 6-3 victory.
Something to keep in mind is the performance of players who have reached the final of the previous tournament. Anderson will be coming into this having played a whole week of tennis in Perth and in Sydney. The emotional fatigue that comes with making a final may cause Anderson to start a little flat on Monday.
Suggested Bet: No bet
Match 8: Xavier Malisse vs Pablo Andujar
H2H: Malisse leads 2-1 (2 matches finished in retirements. Malisse won completed match on hardcourt).
- Andujar has lost 9 in a row
- Andujar has lost 5 in a row on hardcourt
- Andujar has lost 5 of his last 6 in Australia
Summary: Malisse has started his season off in solid fashion, defeating 7th seed Klizan and Giraldo in Auckland, before losing a tight 2 setter to Kohlschreiber, an eventual finalist.
Andujar? He hasn’t won an ATP level match since the US Open, where he beat Thomaz Belluci. The most concerning loss there was a 2-6 6-7 loss to Lukas Rosol in Doha on New Years Eve. Taking Benneteau to 3 sets was an improvement, but losing his serve 8 times was not.
Go back to their previous meeting: the 2011 Australian Open. Andujar had a higher first serve percentage, however Malisse was comprehensive in his victory, winning 92/161 points, breaking Andujar 6 times and dropping serve only once, winning
Suggested Bet: Malisse 3-0 at $2 (Saver 3-1 at $3.60) Multi leg -> Malisse H2H
Match 9: David Goffin vs Fernando Verdasco 
H2H: No previous meetings
- Goffin has lost 4 matches in a row vs Left Handers
- Verdasco has lost 4 matches in a row
Summary: To be fair to Verdasco on the losing 4 matches in a row, they have been against Anderson, Tsonga, Djokovic and Istomin (3 at Hopman Cup, an exhibition event Verdasco actually won for Spain).
When you break down the career hardcourt record of Goffin, it isn’t sensational. He boasts only 5 career wins over top 50 players (Isner , Troicki , Andujar , Young  and Malisse ) mixed amongst 10 comprehensive losses. He also lost 7 times to players outside the top 100 on hardcourt in 2012.
Looking at a different perspective, Verdasco went a solid 10-3 on hardcourt in 2012 against players ranked 21 and above, with one loss a retirement. However, Goffin did the same, although Verdasco’s victories read to be more impressive.
Suggested Bet: Verdasco H2H (5 set refund if applicable and make a minimum size bet)
Why? Early 2013 form tells a story here. Verdasco has been getting some matches vs high quality opponents under his belt (even if it was an exhibition tournament). Goffin on the other hand has only beaten Matt Ebden this year. He lost to Thomaz Bellucci in Auckland, even though he served 76% of first serves in. The worst statistic? 0/5 break points saved.
Match 10: Jurgen Melzer  vs Mikhail Kukushkin
H2H: No previous meetings
- Kukushkin has lost 6 of last 7 vs Left Handers
- Melzer has lost 5 of last 6 at Grand Slam level
Summary: Kukushkin hasn’t played since he underwent hip surgery. He is lucky to have even scraped into the tournament with a ranking of 107. He didn’t intend on playing until the middle of February and this is backed up with Kukushkin not even registering to try and qualify before being given a spot.
So that should suggest a win for Melzer then? Melzer has been in average form of late. That, combined with Kukushkin having 4th round points to defend from last year, makes this unpredictable.
Is Kukushkin here purely for the paycheck?
Suggested Bet: No Bet
Match 11: Fabio Fognini vs Roberto Bautista Agut
H2H: Fognini leads 2-0 (2-0 on indoor hardcourt)
- Fognini has lost 4 in a row at the Australian Open
Summary: Completely disregard Fognini’s win over Dimitrov in Sydney. Dimitrov was drained from his final in Brisbane and couldn’t get to Melbourne to be with his girlfriend (Sharapova) quick enough! Again, you can pretty much disregard the win over Raonic at Kooyong too. Watching parts of the match you could tell they didn’t really want to be there, keeping it very simple on a 39 degree day. Take away those two ‘wins’ and you get yourself a 0-7 hardcourt run vs rankings 29, 46, 187, 11, 155, 55 and 34. He only won three sets amongst those seven matches.
Bautista Agut is arguably in the best form of his career. The 24 year old has started the year with a bang, reaching the final in Chennai not two weeks ago. Highlights along the way in Chennai include 3 sets wins over Tomas Berdych and Benoit Paire, before falling to Janko Tipsaravic after taking the first set. Going back to August, Bautista Agut won back to back Challenger circuit titles, including one of hardcourt in Pozoblanco.
Bautista Agut is the value here. Fognini isn’t at his best on hardcourt and I am of the belief that if he can get off to a great start, Bautista Agut could put Fognini to the sword here.
Suggested Bet: Bautista-Agut h2h at $1.95 at Sportsbet (5 set refund, better odds elsewhere)
Match 12: Julian Reister vs Guillaume Rufin
H2H: Reister leads 1-0 (on clay)
- Rufin has lost 4 in a row on hardcourt
Summary: Going to keep this one short. Recent form has this game going to Reister. Dominant in qualifying, he will be ready to fire come Monday.
The biggest worry for Rufin is his form to start 2013. Losing to the 551st ranked Prakash Amritraj (home court qualifier) in Chennai, before being trounced 2-6 1-6 by Joao Sousa. For those unaware, Sousa then preceded to be wiped off the court in the R32 by Florian Mayer 1-6 2-6. Not flattering for Rufin, at all.
Suggested Bet: Reister -1.5 sets at $1.91 at Sportsbet
Match 13: Michael Russell vs Tomas Berdych 
H2H: Berdych leads 2-1 (most recent meeting 2010, all on hardcourt)
- Russell has lost 4 of the last 5 at the Australian Open
- Berdych has won 12 of the last 13 rated at less than $1.20
Summary: Michael Russell hasn’t played solid ATP level tennis for some time now. What does become apparent looking at the playing activity of Russell is he has played on nothing but hardcourt since mid-July. It has been a solid run, but he hasn’t beaten anyone ranked in the top 140 in that time.
An interesting look at Berdych’s first round matches at the Australian Open since 2010 shows that 4/6 matches have had at least one reach 5-5, meaning Berdych will win at least 19 games. This makes Berdych over 18.5 games tempting, but the form of Berdych and the recent withdrawal in Auckland due to illness from Russell makes this a game to avoid.
Predicted winner: Tomas Berdych
Suggested Bet: Nil
Match 14: David Ferrer  vs Olivier Rochus
H2H: Ferrer leads 7-2 (5-2 on hardcourt)
- Rochus hasn’t beaten Ferrer since 2006
- Ferrer has won 10 in a row when priced at $1.20 or less
- Rochus has lost 5 of his last 6 on hardcourt
- Rochus has lost 7 in a row vs top 10 players
Summary: Ferrer got more than he bargained for from Rochus last time they met, grinding out a 7-5 7-5 victory. Looking deeper into that match, it shouldn’t have been that close. Ferrer is generally solid at capitalising on break point opportunities. Rochus afforded him 18 opportunities, of which Ferrer broke 5 times. All this with Ferrer only serving at 48%.
Besides being outplayed comfortably by Davydenko in Doha, Ferrer has been on a rampage to start the season. He dropped only 3 games vs Lacko in the Auckland QF, 3 games vs Monfils in the SF, and defeated Kohlschreiber 7-6 6-1 in the final.
If Ferrer turns up from the first point, this should be over in straight sets, and quite comfortably. If you look at the last 2 first round Australian Open appearances for Ferrer, he has gone 6-0 6-0 2-0 RET, and 6-1 6-4 6-2. I predict more of the same here today. Look for Ferrer to outplay Rochus in every facet of the game.
Suggested Bet: Total games under 27.5
Match 15: Ivo Karlovic vs Tim Smyczek
H2H: No previous meetings
- Karlovic has played a tiebreak in each of his last 11 games, and 19 of his last 21 matches.
- Karlovic has lost 4 in a row on hardcourt
Summary: Bit of a strange match. Out of form Karlovic up against Lucky Loser Smyczek. The only way to correlate their recent form is Karlovic was knocked out in three sets by young Aussie Matt Barton in Sydney qualifiers and Smyczek beat Barton in three sets in Australian Open qualifying.
Two out of form players is generally a no-go zone. Who knows who will turn up here
Suggested Bet: If anything, tiebreak to be played at $1.30 at Bet365 could be a suitable multi leg
Match 16: John Millman vs Tatsuma Ito
H2H: Ito leads 3-1 (all on hardcourt)
- Ito has lost 4 in a row at Grand Slam level
- Ito has lost 8 of last 9 matches when priced between $2 and $3
Summary: Two things have changed since Ito defeated Millman in Japan in November. 1) Millman has hit home soil. 2) His confidence levels has boosted immeasurably. Sometimes all it takes is a home crowd and a night match against a top 10 player for you to realise just what you are capable of achieving. Millman pushed Andy Murray to the absolute limit in Brisbane, not long after defeating Ito 6-4 6-1. The telling statistic? Ito won only 29% of points on his second serve.
Millman outplayed Ito in every area that day. We are still playing in Australia, Millman is still confident, so I can’t see a big turnaround here on Monday.
Suggested Bet: Millman -1.5 sets at $1.72 (gives you a bit of breathing room in case the nerves get the better of Millman early)
Match 17: Albert Ramos vs Marcos Baghdatis 
H2H: No previous meetings
- Ramos has lost 5 in a row on hardcourt
- Ramos has lost 6 of the last 7 at Grand Slam level
- Baghdatis has won 4 of his last 5 vs Left Handers
- Baghdatis has won 12 in a row when priced at $1.20 or less.
Summary: From a personal point of view, this year we have seen Baghdatis the fittest he has been for some time. When he is fitter, he gets into position earlier, and becomes a more attacking player.
Don’t stress about the fadeouts of Baghdatis in the second set of each of the last 2 AAMI Classic matches. It is an exhibition tournament, there is no point pushing yourself when you have already got enough time on court under your belt.
Ramos has started the year poorly. Losses to Paolo Lorenzi and wildcard Olivier Rochus are not what Ramos would have had in mind to start the year.
Margaret Court Arena, Monday Night. Baghdatis will have his Cypriot cheersquad out in full force. Everything points to a very solid win for Baghdatis, especially if he plays to the level he has throughout the first fortnight of 2013.
Suggested Bet: Under 31.5 games at $1.80 at Sportsbet
Match 18: Mikhail Youzhny  vs Matthew Ebden
H2H: Youzhny leads 1-0 (on hardcourt indoor)
- Ebden has lost 4 in a row on hardcourt
- Ebden has lost 4 of his last 5 at Grand Slam level
Summary: Another one of the matches that is hard to get a solid read on. This is mainly due to Mikhail Youzhny. On his day, he is sensational to watch. But he is just so inconsistent.
Ebden is another up and down player. In all honest, Ebden should have beaten Granollers in Sydney. It was a choke.
Suggested Bet: Both plays too unreliable to get a read on this match. No bet
Match 19: Evgeny Donskoy vs Adrian Ungur
H2H: Donskoy leads 1-0 (on clay)
- Donskoy has lost 4 in a row at Grand Slam level
- Ungur has lost 5 of last 6 at Grand Slam level.
Summary: Not a game to have your money on. If anything, follow the money of Donskoy h2h, as this will be Ungur’s first match since November.
Suggested Bet: No Bet
Match 20: Maxime Authom vs Carlos Berlocq
H2H: No previous meetings
- Berlocq has lost 4 of last 5 in Australia
- Berlocq has lost 6 of the last 7 on hardcourt
Summary: Will keep this one short. Berlocq has gone 2-9 on hardcourt since mid March 2012, with the two wins over Giraldo and Matosevic. The losses haven’t been great, at all.
Authom on the other hand has just breezed his way through qualifying. The most impressive win of the three would have to be vs Dustin Brown, winning 7-5 6-1 with a 1st serve % below 50%.
Berlocq pulled out of qualifying in Auckland due to an unknown reason. No lead-up play for a player that prefers claycourt is not a good sign at all.
Suggested Bet: Authom -1.5 sets at $2.20 at Sportsbet
Match 21: Victor Hanescu vs Kei Nishikori 
H2H: Nishikori leads 1-0 (on clay)
- Hanescu has lost 4 in a row at Grand Slam level
Nishikori is playing some magnificent tennis. He is systematically breaking down opponents, and it is stunning to watch. You only need to look back to how he took care of Dolgopolov, placing around 70% of his shots onto the weaker backhand of Dolgopolov.
Nishikori is one of the most technically sound players in the game at present. After observing him at Kooyong, he certainly has all the tools to take his game to the next level this year. That is, as long as his body holds up. Based on his return to Kooyong on Friday and the way he moved comfortably, I don’t think Nishikori could use his knee as an excuse Monday.
Hanescu hasn’t had the best time of it over the last few years. 1-15 on hardcourt vs Top 50 players over the last 3 years, not great (win vs the 48th ranked Andreas Seppi). Look back to this time last year. Hanescu was sent home by Tobias Kamke 2-6 1-6 2-6. Doesn’t fill you with confidence does it?
6-4 6-4 6-4 loss at best for Hanescu in my opinion. Nishikori would have to drop his standard considerably for Hanescu to get any closer than that.
Suggested Bet: Hanescu under 12.5 games at $1.80 at Sportsbet
Match 22: Nicolas Almagro  vs Steve Johnson
H2H: No previous meetings
- Almagro has lost 4 of his last 5 matches
Almagro has had at least one tiebreak in each of his past 6 matches. You will notice with Almagro that he will go for long periods in matches without having his serve broken, or threaten to break his opponent’s serve.
Johnson has also had at least one tiebreak in 3 of his last 4 matches, including going to 17-15 in the 3rd set of one of his qualifying matches.
Almagro has a habit of letting players into the match early in Grand Slams. In his last 7 hardcourt Grand Slam first round matches, 5 of the matches have involved a tiebreak and one other match had two sets go to 7-5. Since the start of 2009, Almagro has only won one first round hardcourt grand slam match in straight sets.
Some would suggest that it would be better to back over 3.5 sets based on those stats, but I prefer the option of taking a tie break to occur. Looking at their recent statistics, you would suggest the $1.83 being offered is value.
Suggested Bet: Tie Break in Match – Yes at $1.83 at Bet365
Match 23: Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs Lukasz Kubot
H2H: Kubot leads 2-1 (Traver 1-0 on hard)
- Gimeno-Traver has lost 5 in a row in Australia
- Gimeno-Traver has lost 4 of his last 5 hardcourt matches
- Gimeno-Traver has lost 9 in a row at Grand Slam level
Summary: To say Gimeno-Traver has hit a wall the last few months is an absolute understatement. Since winning a claycourt challenger tournament in September, he has won 4 matches, vs ranks 113, 106, 176 and unranked. He went around in the first round of Auckland qualifying at $1.01 and dropped the first set before winning. In that time, he has lost to players ranked 108, 121, 344,84 and 393, with 4 of those in straight sets.
Kubot has put some solid matches together, without setting the tour alight. He defeated Feliciano Lopez in Doha, but that may have been more Lopez blowing up after been given a time violation than anything else. He then let a commanding lead vs Simone Bolelli slip, having been up a set and a break.
Suggested Bet: No bet (Wouldn’t touch any line or total in this match, however Kubot at around $1.40 could be a decent value multi leg for those seeking a solid odds boost)
Match 24: Bjorn Phau vs Somdev Devvarman
H2H: No previous meetings
- Devvarman has lost 10 of last 11 on hardcourt
Summary: Not a match to touch. Who knows how this will turn out. Certainly not a match you want in my opinion.
Suggested Bet: No bet
Match 25: Simone Bolelli vs Jerzy Janowicz 
H2H: Janowicz leads 1-0 (on grass)
Summary: It is only a matter of time before Janowicz makes his way into the top 20. This is mainly due to having limited points to defend in the first 8 months of the year. That being said, his performance in Auckland wasn’t stunning, however the high winds would severely impact the big-serving style of Janowicz.
Bolelli hasn’t been in the worst form, reaching the QF of Doha, and got the opportunity to play an exhibition match at Kooyong, which doesn’t hurt.
I am leaving this match alone. I would like to (and predict) see Janowicz win, but there are better matches on Monday to bet on.
Suggested Bet: No bet
Match 26: Julien Benneteau  vs Grigor Dimitrov
H2H: Dimitrov leads series 2-0
Summary: Two of the in-form players on the tour. Dimitrov probably has the better form of the two at the moment, but you can never discount Julien Benneteau.
Dimitrov made a stunning run to the final in Brisbane. It has been about 18 months in the making for Dimitrov, and he played some solid tennis, but just wasn’t enough to overcome Andy Murray. Don’t read anything into his loss to Fognini, he didn’t want to be there.
Dimitrov played 3 hardcourt Grand Slam matches last year. One went to 4 sets, and the other two 5 sets. Benneteau played 6 matches. One was a loss to Djokovic, two were easy wins over players ranked 100+, and the other 3 all went over 3.5 sets.
With Dimitrov the favourite, I don’t think I can see him knocking Benneteau in straight sets. There will be stern resistance and to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be an 5 set epic.
Suggested Bet: Over 3.5 sets at $1.50
Match 27: Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs Ruben Bemelmans
H2H: Bemelmens leads 1-0 (indoor hard)
- Roger-Vasselin has lost 5 of last 6 on hard court
- Bemelmans has won 6 of last 7 overall
Summary: Let’s start by having a look at their most recent matchup. It took place on the 24/12/12, with Bemelmans winning 7-6 6-1. What made this all the more impressive was this game took place in Roger-Vasselin’s home country.
Bemelmans didn’t drop a set in qualifying, a good sign coming into the Australian Open. It is always an advantage for the player who has come through qualifying, as they are comfortable and set with the court, it’s pace, and how to best play it.
Like Bemelmans at the price here. H2H with the 5 set refund would be a good option here.
Suggested Bet: Bemelmans h2h at $1.73 at Sportsbet (5 set refund)
Match 28: Lukas Lacko vs Gilles Muller
H2H: Tied 1-1 (Lacko 1-0 on hardcourt)
Summary: Another match I have no read on. This could go either way, depending on how well Muller serves. Not worth the risk.
Suggested Bet: No bet.
Match 29: Lleyton Hewitt vs Janko Tipsaravic 
H2H: Hewitt leads 3-1 (2-1 on hard, no h2h since 01/09)
- Tipsaravic has lost 5 of his last 6 when priced between $1.50 and $2
- Both players have won 4 of their last 5 overall
Summary: Probably the matchup of the day. That is why it is set for Monday night on Rod Laver Arena. This stage is set for Hewitt, there is no doubt about it. Although it was an exhibition tournament at Kooyong, Hewitt was hitting the ball as well as we saw him against Djokovic this time last year.
People are talking up Tipsaravic winning the ATP title in Chennai. Looking at the tournament, sure he won, but played nobody ranked higher than 60. Of course all you can do is beat your opponent on the other side of the net, but Tipsaravic dug himself into a hole in both the SF and F, trailing by a set before getting his act together.
Tipsaravic retiring at Kooyong due to a wrist injury isn’t the ideal preparation. It is hard to go past Hewitt here. If you want to sacrifice some potential winnings, take the 5 set refund here for Hewitt. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Hewitt get over the line in 4 sets.
- Hewitt -2.5 games at $2.78 at Sportsbet
- Hewitt 1st set winner at $2.05 at Sportingbet
*Note: If Hewitt does in fact get the jump on Tipsaravic, don’t start counting your winnings. Tipsaravic has one of the highest retirement rates in the ATP.
Match 30: Sam Querrey vs Daniel Munoz-De La Nava
H2H: Munoz-De La Nava leads 1-0 (on clay, 2010)
- Querrey has won 7 in a row when priced at $1.20 or less
Summary: Not liking too much with this match. Querrey deserves to be around $1.07, but there is no value in any of the posted lines or totals, especially coming up against a qualifier who didn’t drop a set in three matches last week.
Suggested Bet: No Bet
Match 31: Brian Baker vs Alex Bogomolov Jnr
H2H: No previous meetings
Summary: Another match too hard to get a read on. Similar style to the match above, with Baker being the favourite but Bogomolov steaming through qualifying. Bogomolov is like a rollercoaster. Who knows which Bogomolov will come to play.
Suggested Bet: Nil
Match 32: Cedrik-Marcel Stebe vs Stanislas Wawrinka 
H2H: Wawrinka leads 1-0 (on hardcourt)
- Stebe has won 7 of his last 8 on hardcourt
- Wawrinka has won 7 of his last 8 when priced at $1.20 or less
Summary: Wawrinka beat Stebe only a fortnight ago, facing no break points on the way to a 6-4 6-3 victory. That being said, Stebe zoomed his way through qualifying, which can only help boost his confidence.
Wawrinka then went on to lose to Bedene, but showed great form on the doubles court. Not sure how Wawrinka goes here in terms of a line or total, but would be shocked if he were to lose here.
Suggested Bet: Wawrinka h2h at a multi leg.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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Photo By Jae (originally posted to Flickr as Lleyton Hewitt) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons