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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Australian Open Tennis Day 4 Picks 2019 (January 17th)

I wasn't happy with my results through the First Round of the Australian Open, but the Second Round has begun very well with the Day 3 selections proving to be good for a number of winners.

It means the tournament is back on track for the week, but the exit of Kevin Anderson was a blow as it means one of my three outright selections has exited the tournament.

In the most part the upsets have not been forthcoming and I am looking for that to continue on Day 4 as you will be able to tell from my selections. It is the busiest day of the week for my Tennis Picks with a host of matches fitting the criteria for me, while I have come to the conclusion there are a huge amount of mismatches taking to the courts on Thursday.

Obviously I hope I am not wrong to make sure the week continues the positive move made on Wednesday as the Second Round is concluded. We could get our first rain delay of the tournament on Thursday if the weather predictions are correct, but the matches will mainly continue as there are a number of roofed courts available at the Australian Open.

More importantly the temperatures could be coming down significantly for a few days which is going to be music to the ears of the players who have had to battle in some tough conditions over the first three days. The morning in Melbourne remains very warm, but by the afternoon it should be almost perfect conditions for players and that should be the case until the second week of the event.

Day 3 proved to be a very strong one for the Tennis Picks, but the pivotal day for the tournament could be Day 4 in which I think a number of strong favourites can make their dominance tell on the courts.

There are some quality looking matches to be played on Thursday and it will be a fun day for the fans with the stand out viewing from the men's draw being the Second Round match between Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic.

The women's draw has a number of very interesting looking matches, but I would imagine most British eyes will be on Johanna Konta taking on Garbine Muguruza in the last match in the night session on the Margaret Court Arena.

Onto the Picks for Day 4 including the full selection of Picks in the 'MY PICKS' section below.

Milos Raonic - 4.5 games v Stan Wawrinka: There has been a significant drift in the prices for this match as Milos Raonic has hardened as favourite to beat the former Australian Open Champion Stan Wawrinka.

The First Round could not have gone much more differently for both players despite them both making their way through to this Second Round match. While Milos Raonic was dominating Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka actually dropped the first set against Ernests Gulbis who retired after only four more games were played in the second set.

With that in mind I was hoping the layers may consider Wawrinka the fresher man and this would be a much more closely priced match than the one we have got. When the prices first came out it was much closer than what has happened with the drift and it feels clear that Raonic looked more impressive in the First Round and that has influenced things here.

Has it gone too far? I am not sure about that as I had Raonic down as a pretty strong winner in this one, although I would not like the number being asked to be covered to go much higher than what it currently is. My initial selection was going to be Raonic to win in three or four sets which had been offered up as an odds against chance, but those have long gone and instead I will look for the Canadian to produce a similar win over Wawrinka as he did when these players met at the US Open a few months ago.

Both players had staggered years in 2018 as injuries meant recovering their form, but Milos Raonic's numbers on the hard courts were significantly stronger than Wawrinka's. The serve is a potent weapon for Raonic and while that is firing he is always going to be a tough out for opponents, particularly if they are just having a few issues on the return of serve like Wawrinka has had.

The Swiss player may have the winning record against Raonic, but he has lost the last two matches and breaks at just 8% against him. That is slightly higher than the break percentage through the opening four matches in 2019 and I do think Raonic will fashion the break point chances through sheer mental pressure that helps him find the margin of victory needed to cover this spread.

If Raonic is serving as he has been in the last few years, he is going to be very difficult for Wawrinka to deal with here.

Daniil Medvedev - 5.5 games v Ryan Harrison: Analysis a tennis player is about more than just numbers, but Daniil Medvedev ticks every box both by putting he is putting on the court and the kind of mental toughness and hard work you need off the court. His improvement is very much tangible by looking at the numbers that keep getting better and better and the Russian has all the makings of a potential Grand Slam Champion in the making.

The 2019 Australian Open still looks like it will come too soon for the Brisbane Runner Up, while some of his peers also have improved massively and look ready to take the next step in their careers too. Daniil Medvedev can't worry about that but instead will need to concentrate on his own career and he is looking to make his first significant impact at a Grand Slam in Melbourne.

Prior to this tournament Medvedev had not made it past the Third Round of any Grand Slam, but he achieved those career best results at this level in the last two Slams he has played. A strong start to 2019 will only increase the confidence of a player whose hard court numbers were improved in the last few months of 2018 to make his overall years numbers look very good.

Sustaining what he has done to open 2019 is not realistic, but Medvedev is a player who has plenty of upside and can build on his 2018 showing.

I do think he beats Ryan Harrison in the Second Round as the American looks like he is going back down the World Rankings. Harrison plays with a lot of heart and steel, but he has found the main ATP Tour level a little too good and can't back up his performances from year to year playing against the very best players in the World.

The American suffered two First Round defeats to open 2019 before beating Jiri Vesely in the First Round here and his numbers suggest he is a solid, if unspectacular hard court player. Those numbers also take a serious dip when Harrison faces top 50 World Ranked opponents and he is 6-14 when playing top 20 Ranked opponents in the last three years.

Daniil Medvedev beat Ryan Harrison in the Quarter Final in Winston Salem last August and in both previous matches between these players the latter has struggled to get to grips with Medvedev's serve. I expect to see more of the same when they play in the Second Round and Medvedev can wear down Harrison and cover this number of games on his way to a third consecutive Grand Slam Third Round appearance.

Novak Djokovic - 6.5 games v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: This was once an Australian Open Final but the injuries to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga meant he was always in danger of having to face a big name from the off. The Frenchman came through the First Round with a very positive win over Martin Klizan, but this arguably the biggest test in men's tennis as he faces Novak Djokovic twelve months on from a comeback of his own.

It's quite amazing to think of how the last six months of 2018 went for Djokovic when you think he was contemplating not even entering the grass court season after a disappointing defeat in the French Open. Back in January 2018 he had been beaten in the Fourth Round at the Australian Open and although there had been signs he was getting back to his best, not many would have picked Djokovic to be entering the 2019 Australian Open looking for a third Slam title in a row.

Djokovic has not quite reached the level he was producing prior to the elbow injury, but the improvement in numbers on the hard courts from week to week can be seen quite clearly. It is behind the serve where it has been most evident as Djokovic's 2018 saw him hold at almost 10% higher on the hard courts in the second half of the season as he did in matches from the Australian Open through to the Miami Masters in the first four months of 2018.

The return remains a devastating weapon for Djokovic and he has opened 2019 in fine form and that despite losing in Doha to Roberto Bautista Agut.

Suffice to say it is a huge ask for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to stay with Djokovic although he has previously beaten him at the Australian Open. In saying that, Tsonga has won one of fifteen matches against Djokovic since that win over him in January 2010 when the Serb fell apart physically in the final two sets of a five set defeat.

The one and only win for Tsonga did come on a hard court, but it is going to take time for the Frenchman to return to that kind of level to compete with the likes of Djokovic. He hasn't played badly to open 2019, but Tsonga was comfortably beaten by Daniil Medvedev and Djokovic is another step up in level to the young Russian which doesn't bode well for the fan favourite.

It is never easy for Djokovic to beat Tsonga who has plenty of firepower and can come to the net and put away volleys for fun, but at this stage of their careers I think the World Number 1 is going to have too much for his opponent. Over the coming months I will expect Tsonga to get healthier and thus be more competitive going forward, but for now I can see Djokovic wearing down Tsonga over three sets and working his way to a cover with the last set perhaps running away from the Frenchman after spending almost three hours on court.

Elina Svitolina - 5.5 games v Viktoria Kuzmova: You may have thought winning the WTA Finals in Singapore would mean Elina Svitolina would enter the Australian Open as one of the names tipped up to win the title here, but I do feel she is flying somewhat under the radar. Granted she is in the more difficult top half of the draw and Svitolina does have a relatively poor Grand Slam record, but I still would have expected the Ukrainian to garner more interest.

Her Grand Slam record can't be ignored though and Svitolina has made just two Quarter Finals in the Majors since the start of the 2016 season which is a shocking record in all honesty. Last season she did make the Quarter Final here at the Australian Open though and Svitolina has produced some consistently strong numbers on the hard courts which does make her a threat here in my opinion.

Sometimes Svitolina can be guilty of perhaps losing focus or playing down to the level of opponents which can make some sets stickier than they should be. However she has maintained a strong record against players Ranked outside the top 20 when she has faced them on the hard courts at either the US Open or the Australian Open and she faces another of those in the Second Round.

Viktoria Kuzmova is only 19 years old and has produced some of her best tennis on the hard courts with a strong first serve the key for her game. The Slovakian has made a good start to 2019 and came from a set down to win her First Round match, but Kuzmova still has room for improvement as she is only 3-8 in her career when facing a top 50 World Ranked opponent on the hard courts.

Both of the losses suffered in 2019 have come against players who fit that bill and Elina Svitolina is an even bigger challenge with the Ukrainian entrenched in the top 10 of the World Rankings. The Kuzmova serve has been a little less effective when playing better opposition from the top 50 and her return game is perhaps not where it needs to be if she is going to significantly improve her own Number 48 World Ranking.

Elina Svitolina beat Viktoria Kuzmova in a competitive match at the French Open in 2018, but I think her return game is going to be the key difference in this one. I do think the Svitolina serve can be vulnerable at times which does reduce some of the enthusiasm for this selection, but Kuzmova will have to improve significantly in her return game to really punish her top 10 opponent and I will back Svitolina to win this one going away.

Simona Halep - 3.5 games v Sofia Kenin: 2018 will always be a memorable year for Simona Halep who finally won her first ever Grand Slam title having reached the Final three previous times and falling short. One of those Finals came here at the Australian Open twelve months ago but in recent years the tournament has been a case of being a bag of revels for Simona Halep.

In other words you don't know what you're going to get from the World Number 1.

In her last seven appearances at the Australian Open, Halep has reached the Quarter Final twice and also been a Runner Up. However the other four occasions have all resulted in First Round exits and it looked like it could be more of the same on Tuesday when Halep dropped the first set to Kaia Kanepi who had beaten the World Number 1 in the First Round at the US Open a few months ago.

There have been some question marks about the Halep fitness considering she ended her 2018 season early and was then beaten in the First Round in Sydney by Ashleigh Barty. However that defeat doesn't look so bad when you note how closely it was contested and Halep was perhaps getting stronger in her First Round win here.

The Romanian will always have to work hard behind serve on the hard courts as she doesn't get as many free points as some of the players out there, but the returning numbers have been consistently strong. That return game is going to be key against Sofia Kenin who has reached a career best World Ranking after winning the title in Hobart last week and the young American is also a player looking like she is on the rise.

Kenin perhaps was a little tired in the First Round here which made that match a little tougher than it should have been, but any lingering fatigue has to be a concern when playing someone like Halep. The American has shown she can be a tough out for even the very best players in her short career which makes Kenin dangerous, but I think the match up is a tough one for her against someone who can defend as well as Halep, but also be able to turn that around offensively.

I do think it will be a competitive match and I don't think Halep blows Kenin away, but she can do enough to cover the number. I have to say Halep has a surprising 25-13 record against players Ranked outside the top 20 in Grand Slam hard court matches, but generally if she wins she covers a total like this one.

In her last twenty-one wins in that spot, Halep would have covered the 3.5 game line nineteen times and I do think she wins this one. In that case the chances are that the World Number 1 will cover and I will back her to do so.

Madison Keys - 4.5 games v Anastasia Potapova: At 17 years old Anastasia Potapova has shown plenty of signs of being a top player in the years ahead and she is putting wins together at the very highest level of the WTA Tour.

Potapova has had success as a Junior having won the Wimbledon Singles title at that level and played her first Grand Slam match there in 2017. Now she has produced a win in the First Round of the Australian Open and Potapova is going to come into this match with nothing to lose as she continues her development on the Tour and pushes ahead as the next generation player to come through and challenge the established guard.

I don't think it will be a surprise to read that Potapova has produced some numbers that will be improved in the years ahead as she grows into her body. They are still to be respected on the hard courts, but the youngster is going to face one of the hottest players on this surface and this could be a real eye-opening experience for Potapova.

Madison Keys reached the Final of the US Open in 2017 and was a Semi Finalist at that event last season as a part of another strong year on this surface. In the last couple of years Keys has saved her best tennis for the Grand Slam tournaments she has entered, and she has managed to get to the latter stages of the Australian Open before faltering on more than one occasion.

The numbers have backed up how well Keys has played with a big serve and powerful groundstrokes making her a very dangerous opponent for anyone to face. However I do think there is room for improvement tactically when the matches get tougher at the business end of tournaments for Keys if she is going to win a Grand Slam title.

At this stage I don't think that will be a big problem and I do think her firepower is going to be a little too much for a 17 year old to handle.

Keys crushed a young opponent in the First Round and she has been very good when playing against opponents who are outside the top 50 in the World Rankings and on the hard courts. Last season Keys was particularly strong in that spot and she has a habit of winning by a margin that will be enough to cover this number which is what I expect the American to do in this Second Round match.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Eugenie Bouchard: If you go back a little over four years it looked like Eugenie Bouchard was going to take over as the face of women's tennis as she reached a career best World Ranking of Number 5. She had reached a Grand Slam Final at Wimbledon and the Semi Final at both the Australian Open and French Open in her breakthrough year on the Tour, but things have rapidly fallen away for the Canadian since then.

A Quarter Final at the Australian Open in 2015 is the best effort she has had at a Grand Slam since reaching the Wimbledon Final in July 2014 when she was actually favoured to beat Petra Kvitova.

Bouchard has experienced a real slump in results in recent years and it is quite something to note that she has only reached the Third Round of a Grand Slam in one of the last nine that have been played. To do that at the Australian Open Bouchard is going to have to beat the favourite for the title Serena Williams in an eye-catching Night Session match in the Second Round.

The Canadian is still only 24 years old and she has reached the Quarter Final in Auckland to open the 2019 season while also seeing her overall hard court numbers improve to a respectable level in 2018. However it is a completely different test of your ability when you are faced with Serena Williams on the other side of the court.

And as much as her overall hard court numbers have improved, it has been helped that Bouchard has dropped down a level and taken in tournaments where she is not competing with the top names. Over the last twelve months Bouchard is only 2-4 when playing opponents who are inside the top 50 of the World Rankings and now she faces Williams who still produces some very strong numbers on the hard courts.

2018 was a tough year for Serena Williams as she returned to the Tour after giving birth, but she was looking stronger in the last six months. A Wimbledon and US Open Final run was impressive although Serena fell short both times, and you can't ignore the fact that her hard court numbers have shot up over the last six months as she has gotten used to being back on the court and playing competitive tennis.

Serena Williams crushed Tatjana Maria in the First Round and while I think this match will be closer, I also think she is going to be too strong for Bouchard. I feel the layers may just be rating Bouchard a touch higher than I would because of the name she brings to the court, but Serena Williams is playing at a much superior level and should be able to make it three career wins over the Canadian as well as winning by a margin covering this number for the third time in those wins.

MY PICKS: Milos Raonic - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Daniil Medvedev - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pablo Carreno Busta - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Hyeon Chung - 1.5 Sets @ 2.25 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Filip Krajinovic - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Denis Shapovalov - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Alexander Zverev - 6.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Anastasija Sevastova - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Karolina Pliskova - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Qiang Wang - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Naomi Osaka - 6.5 Games @ 2.20 William Hill (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Garbine Muguruza - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Australian Open 2019: 20-17, + 5.05 Units (72 Units Staked, + 7.01% Yield)

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