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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Australian Open Day 3 Picks 2013 (January 16th)

I can't complain too much about Day 2 as 2 of the 3 picks I made came in as winners- Juan Martin Del Potro crushed Adrian Mannarino far easier than I thought he would, while Marin Cilic won most of the big points to record a comfortable straight sets win over Marino Matosevic.

However, Petra Kvitova couldn't help complete a sweep as she required three sets to knock off Francesca Schiavone and set up a potentially very tough Second Round match against Britain's Laura Robson.

We are still at the stage of the tournament when the layers aren't giving anything away and the number of 'mismatches' are leading to high spreads on the handicap markets and has me ignoring most of the big names. Instead, I will just hope the likes of Novak Djokovic and Agnieszka Radwanska can continue their progress through the draw and move on in to the Third Round with little or no issues.

I have made a few more picks today than I usually would on a single day, but some of those are limited to small interests and I have looked for the value that may be in the schedule today. Let's hope Day 2 is the start of a positive tournament after a pretty disappointing Day 1.

Fernando Verdasco win 3-1 v Xavier Malisse: It's four years since Fernando Verdasco played the best tennis of his career to reach the Semi Final here in Melbourne, but he is far off that level these days. However, Verdasco continues to insist the Grand Slams favour his game best these days as he feels the longer format is where his dips in form can be a little less of a hindrance than in other best of three set tournaments.

I expect Verdasco will be too good for Xavier Malisse in this one as the latter is another whose best days are behind him. The Belgian still has periods of playing top tennis and that should help him secure at least one set in this one, but I do think he is vulnerable to a big hitter like Verdasco who can take the racquet out of opponents hands.

They have met at Grand Slam level twice in the last two seasons and both players have recorded one win apiece- Verdasco won in 4 sets at the French Open in 2011, while Malisse was a 5 set winner last season at Wimbledon.

I think the difference between the players in this one will eventually boil down to Verdasco making more first serves and being given the chance to win points slightly easier in key moments- I wouldn't be surprised if they first two sets are split before the Spaniard does take control though.

Janko Tipsarevic - 6.5 games v Lukas Lacko: I was very impressed with the tennis played by Janko Tipsarevic in the First Round win over Lleyton Hewitt and I think that has opened up the bottom half of this quarter for the Serb. He should be able to move on and beat Lukas Lacko in this one and I would expect him to do so fairly comfortably.

Lacko had a good First Round win himself over Gilles Muller, but has regularly been found out by the better players he has played on the Tour and it is telling that he has won just 7 games in defeats by Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer this season.

Unfortunately for the Slovakian, Tipsarevic is very much amongst the best players on the Tour and I think he can make enough shots in this one to keep games ticking over and I wouldn't be surprised if Tipsy records a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win.

The players were involved in a 5 set Davis Cup match back in 2008, but Tipsarevic is vastly more consistent these days and a much improved player should take care of Lacko without too many dramas.

Feliciano Lopez win 3-1 v Radek Stepanek: I was very impressed with the guts that Radek Stepanek showed in his First Round win over Victor Troicki as he turned around a 2 set deficit to win the match and book his place in the Second Round. His opponent, Feliciano Lopez, had it much more straight forward in a straight sets win and I think he'll be able to do enough to win this one albeit while dropping a set.

Some will point to the 8-2 head to head in favour of Stepanek, but the 2 Lopez wins have come in the last 3 matches and it is also important to note that both of those came on the hard courts.

It has been a couple of years since they last met and while Stepanek remains a solid competitor in both singles and doubles, Lopez is probably on his way to sliding down the Rankings. The Spaniard has hardly been in good form to open the new season, but I just worry about the fitness levels of Stepanek and I think that will prove to be the difference.

I don't think Lopez is consistent enough to beat Stepanek without dropping a set either so a small interest on this looks the call.

Jurgen Melzer win 3-1 v Roberto Bautista-Agut: Roberto Bautista-Agut is a 24 year old Spaniard that has been moving up the Rankings and already holds a win over Tomas Berdych this season, but I just feel his efforts from the First Round may just haunt him a little against the veteran Jurgen Melzer.

Melzer has a very productive 2010 season, but took a big step back in 2011 and 2012, while his opening form to 2013 suggests he may even take another step back in the coming year. The left-hander is going to hit 32 this year, a senior citizen in tennis terms, but he had a very convincing First Round win and I think he can back that up here.

However, like Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, Melzer is another that suffers a lot of dips in his game these days and he is playing a player that should have enough confidence to see him grab a set.

There is also a chance of an upset in this one and I am not overly confident, I just feel Bautista-Agut  hasn't got the Grand Slam experience that can help a player recover, both mentally and physically, from their first five set match. That might prove to be the reason why Melzer is able to come through and I'll have a small interest in the set scoreline.

Sam Stosur-Jie Zheng Total Sets- 3: These two players met last week in Sydney and it was Jie Zheng that came through with the three set win and there is every chance that the two players are going to be involved in yet another match that goes the distance.

This will be the sixth meeting between the players and four of the previous five matches has seen a final set required to separate them.

Sam Stosur has regularly struggled to play at Melbourne Park and I think there is every chance that she gets tight if she is ahead so any of you out there that prefer laying markets may want to look at opposing the odds on that Stosur wins this in straight sets.

Zheng is an absolute fighter and it has to be remembered that this is considered her home Grand Slam too as the Australian Open is marketed as the Grand Slam for Asia-Australia so motivation will be high on both sides.

Both players would be considered as fighters in my opinion and I would be surprised if it is an easy win for either. There is enough pointing to this one going the distance and I'll have a small interest for it to do so.

Angelique Kerber - 5.5 games v Lucie Hradecka: I have already backed Angelique Kerber to win the fourth quarter of the Women's draw, but this is a moment where I feel she could be worth backing to win comfortably against an opponent she has beaten on all 4 previous occasions they have played.

Don't get me wrong though, Kerber won't be able to afford some of the mental lapses she sometimes can have when things are going her way, but you have to believe being in a Grand Slam and the importance of getting through without wasting too much energy will be a motivating factor.

The German is certainly one of the toughest players to meet on the Tour these days as she has solid defence, but also the shot-making ability to put together a string of winners.

Both players won through the First Round comfortably, but I do think Kerber operates at a significantly higher level than Lucie Hradecka these days and she should be able to make that difference count on the scoreboard in a 6-2, 6-4 win.

MY PICKS: Fernando Verdasco win 3-1 @ 4.50 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Janko Tipsarevic - 6.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez win 3-1 @ 4.50 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Jurgen Melzer win 3-1 @ 4.33 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Sam Stosur-Jie Zheng Total Sets- 3 @ 2.60 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Angelique Kerber - 5.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 3-4, - 0.80 Units (13 Units Staked, - 0.06% Yield)

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