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Sunday, 19 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 1 Picks 2020 (January 20th)

The Australian Open will begin in the early hours of Monday morning for those of us watching from Europe and Day 1 of the tournament sees the top half of the Women's draw and the bottom half of the Men's draw get underway.

It looks like being a pretty wet start to the tournament so I would expect to see the roof in play at the three courts where they can use one.

With the tournament beginning on Monday, you can read my Outright Picks from the tournament here.

And I have begun to add some posts to my new Instagram page which can be seen here if that kind of thing interests you.

Now onto the Day 1 Picks from the First Round matches that are scheduled to be played on Monday.

Kyle Edmund - 2.5 games v Dusan Lajovic: This looks to be a pretty interesting First Round match involving one of the British hopes Down Under when Kyle Edmund gets set to take on Dusan Lajovic. Both players had pretty poor ends to the 2019 season on the hard courts, but have opened up 2020 in what looks to be better form albeit through very limited competitive matches.

Kyle Edmund has played a couple of tournaments already and managed to make one Quarter Final, while Dusan Lajovic was playing alongside Novak Djokovic in the ATP Cup and did win four of the six Singles matches he played in that new competition. That will definitely have given Lajovic a boost in confidence and his numbers were pretty good during those six matches.

In fact both of these players have opened up with similar numbers as they have both held 80% of the service games played. While Lajovic has won a higher percentage of points played behind the serve compared with Edmund, it is the latter who has got a stronger edge when it comes to the return so far with breaks in 22% of return games played against the 18% number Lajovic has.

Over the years it is Kyle Edmund who has been the more comfortable hard court player of the two, although he will be hoping to recover some form having had a difficult last few months. At the same time Dusan Lajovic's performances in the ATP Cup far exceeded what has become his more normal level on the hard courts and that makes it hard to really believe in him.

It is the Edmund serve that should be the difference maker on the day with both players having had some issues on the return. In their two previous matches Kyle Edmund has managed to hold serve in 96% of the games played and that is a huge difference compared with the 84% mark held by Dusan Lajovic.

The lack of form may have dented some of the confidence which will be a concern in backing Kyle Edmund here, but I think he can battle past this opponent at a tournament where he has had some success in the past. If Kyle Edmund can serve well he should have enough to edge through in three or four sets I feel.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 1.5 sets v Marcos Giron: There have been some tournaments played on the main ATP Tour, but both Philipp Kohlshcreiber and Marcos Giron have decided they would take in Challenger events instead. It is a good way to build some confidence ahead of the first Grand Slam of the 2020 season and both should have done that with Kohlschreiber having won a title and Giron reaching the Semi Final in a tournament he played.

The numbers have started off solid for both in the 2020 season, although you do have to point out those have come at a lower level than what they are going to have to deal with in this tournament. However the First Round draw is good one for both players with a chance to put some Ranking points on the board and progress to the next Round in a Grand Slam and those points are going to be important for both Kohlschreiber and Giron.

Philipp Kohlschreiber has produced some very good tennis to win the Challenger event he played, but the veteran German has shown signs of decline over the last eighteen months. In saying that he is still largely playing at a much higher level than Marcos Giron who at 26 years of age is yet to have played more than nine hard court matches at the main ATP level.

In the main Giron has struggled to bring his own Challenger form into a higher level, but he is on the brink of cracking the top 100 of the World Rankings for the first time and winning this match will go a long way to doing that. The serve is not a great weapon for Giron, which is a concern when moving up to the main ATP Tour as the American has not been able to break serve easily and that should be evident in this match.

It is not to say that Kohlschreiber has an unbreakable serve, but I do think he will have the majority of break point chances in the match. He showed in his Challenger win that he is perhaps still playing at a high enough level to beat Marcos Giron and I think backing him to win this one in either three or four sets looks the way to go.

Cori Gauff - 2.5 games v Venus Williams: Two players at opposite ends of their career will be meeting for the second time and the second time in three Grand Slams when Cori Gauff takes on Venus Williams.

There is not a lot I can say about Venus Williams and the wonderful career she has had that you won't have read before, but it also has to be noted that she looks like she is declining pretty rapidly now. At 39 years old and turning 40 years old during the course of the 2020 season, Venus Williams is not the player she was even a couple of years ago and I do think the veteran is someone who may call time on her career at some point during this year.

At the moment Venus Williams is also dealing with a hip injury which has prevented her from taking part in either of the first two tournaments she had signed up for. It certainly makes her more vulnerable and this is a player who had seen her numbers decline on both the second serve and return of serve on the hard courts in 2019 for the third year in a row.

A young player with huge potential will be looking for her second Grand Slam win over Venus Williams and Cori Gauff certainly has the tools to win Majors in the next few years. She has not made a really positive start to the 2020 season, but Gauff looks like someone who has a slightly stronger serve than Venus Williams at the moment and a little more effectiveness when it comes to the return of serve.

You don't want to read too much into her limited run at the tournament in Auckland, but Gauff has won a title in Linz at the back end of last season. That coupled with her win over Venus Williams at Wimbledon should be all the confidence that the youngster will need, even if it will be a strange situation to know she is the favourite and that expectation could be difficult to deal with.

It is the injury issue the older player is dealing with that is a massive concern and I think Gauff can take advantage with the slightly superior returning helping her come through.

Madison Keys - 5.5 games v Daria Kasatkina: I have highlighted Madison Keys as a potential Grand Slam winner at the Australian Open this year and so it will be no surprise that I think she is going to be able to get through this First Round match. A couple of years ago Daria Kasatkina looked like she was ready to breakthrough into the upper echelons of the WTA Tour, but the last year was much more difficult for the Russian and particularly on the hard courts.

The head to head doesn't make for great reading for Kasatkina either having lost all six previous matches against Madison Keys and all of those have been on the hard courts. In four of the six wins Keys would have covered the number she is being asked to do in this match and her early season form is encouraging too.

The American reached the Final in Brisbane before going down in three sets to Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys played really well in a loaded tournament which will have given her confidence. 2019 was a more difficult year on the hard courts for Keys, but she was still producing strong numbers and numbers that are far above what Daria Kasatkina was able to produce.

Daria Kasatkina has put some positive numbers on the board to open 2020, but her hard court performances shows a vulnerable serve that can be exploited. That is where Madison Keys is going to try and have success knowing she has a big weapon that can at least limit what Kasatkina can get from the return even if she cannot completely stop her from finding break points and taking chances.

The fact that Madison Keys has won 52% of the points played on the Daria Kasatkina serve has to be mightily encouraging for the favourite. In the two matches between these players in 2019, Keys won 53% of return points played, and she broke serve ten times from twenty-five break points created.

If Keys can get around 55-60% of her first serves in play, I do think she will have too much for Kasatkina and be able to come through with something like a 6-4, 6-2 win.

MY PICKS: Kyle Edmund - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Philipp Kohlschreiber - 1.5 Sets @ 1.72 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Cori Gauff - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Madison Keys - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Ekaterina Alexandrova - 5.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Naomi Osaka - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Magda Linette - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Elena Rybakina - 2.5 Games @ 1.86 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Stefano Travaglia @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)

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