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Monday, 20 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 2 Picks 2020 (January 21st)

There was heavy rain forecasted at the Australian Open on Monday and that proved to be the case with only the three main courts able to get through a full day's play. While it isn't ideal, the weather forecast looks much better on Tuesday when almost a full First Round slate of matches have to be played to get the tournament back on track.

The frustration is also for those of us who want to put in the required research to find the gold nuggets of Tennis Picks from Day 3 as those Second Round matches won't be put together until Tuesday. That is nothing compared with the players, but it is another knock on from the delay in matches, and a number of my Day 1 selections won't be taking to the court until Day 2 of the tournament.

With the majority of the First Round matches due to be played today, you can read my Outright Picks here.


Only four of the Tennis Picks made on Monday were completed and a 3-1 start to the tournament is clearly a positive that I will take and look to build upon. The remainder of the Day 1 Tennis Picks can be read here but in this thread I am going to add the Day 2 selections as I look to negotiate the early Rounds and avoid some of the upsets that have already been seen in the tournament.


Dominic Thiem - 7.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: The best chance for Dominic Thiem to win a Grand Slam is likely to come at the French Open in the next few years as Rafael Nadal perhaps begin to slip back towards the pack, but the Austrian is someone who can play some very effective hard court tennis too. Unfortunately for Thiem there seem to be one too many players in the Grand Slam events in Melbourne and New York City to prevent him from having the impact you may expect out of the World Number 5.

He has only ever reached one Quarter Final at either the Australian Open or the US Open and Dominic Thiem's best efforts in Melbourne have been a couple of Fourth Round runs here.

The early season results at the ATP Cup might not have been the best for Dominic Thiem, but he played well in the three matches there and was very unfortunate to end with a 1-2 record. The serve has been effective on the hard courts in the last couple of years for Thiem and he looked to be in decent shape with his return at the ATP Cup, although in general it is the part of the game that has prevented Thiem from taking the next step at this level on this surface.

The opening match at the Australian Open looks a good one for Dominic Thiem who has won all seven previous matches against Adrian Mannarino. The Frenchman is clearly looking like a player on the way down from the top of the mountain of his carer and Mannarino was beaten in both matches played in the 2020 season in Doha and Auckland.

Adrian Mannarino did have some strong showings at the back end of the 2019 season which improved his numbers, but his serve can be a weakness even coming out of the southpaw stance. He held 79% of his service games on the hard courts, but that drops to 71% when playing opponents Ranked inside the top 20 in the World Rankings.

In those matches Mannarino has struggled with his return too and that has been a major problem in his previous matches against Dominic Thiem having broken in just 13% of return games played. Adrian Mannarino has won 59% of points played behind serve in those matches against the Austrian and two years ago Dominic Thiem was a very comfortable straight sets winner over Mannarino.

Dominic Thiem has won eleven sets in a row against Adrian Mannarino on the hard courts and I do think he is worth playing here to cover this spread.


Miomir Kecmanovic - 1.5 sets v Andreas Seppi: Finding an inspiration must be pretty easy for 20 year old Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who is looking to edge closer and then surpass his career best Number 47 in the World Rankings. Having a good run at the Australian Open will be a huge boost for Kecmanovic who showed signs of how good he can be in 2019 and will be looking to move into a position where he could join Serbia in Davis Cup and ATP Cup action in the years ahead alongside Novak Djokovic.

He reached the Semi Final in Doha in preparation for the Australian Open and the defeat to Andrey Rublev is one that can be put aside by Kecmanovic. He was in good form in Doha and the numbers on the main ATP Tour in hard court matches have looked pretty good over the last twelve months which will be encouraging for the youngster.

In the First Round Miomir Kecmanovic meets veteran Andreas Seppi who is slipping down the World Rankings and he could fall out of the top 100 in the weeks and months ahead if form cannot be reversed. The Italian reached the Second Round in Auckland last week, and Seppi has some decent numbers over the last twelve months even if there are signs that his best days are long behind him now.

While Andreas Seppi has been steady with his ability on the return, the serve looks like it is becoming more and more vulnerable having held in just 75% of service games on the hard courts in 2019. That was the number from main ATP Tour matches and it someway below Miomir Kecmanovic's 82% number from 2019 which has improved to 85% from the very small sample of matches played in 2020.

It is the serve that I believe will make the difference between these players on the day as they both hold similar kind of numbers on the return of serve. It feels like Miomir Kecmanovic is going to have more control when backing up his serve and I think that will put him in a position to cover the set handicap in this First Round match.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 1.5 sets v Alexei Popyrin: The home fans should be out in force to back one of their own when Alexei Popyrin takes to the court on Day 2 of the Australian Open, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a very popular player on the Tour too. It should make for a brilliant atmosphere in this First Round match and if you like your tennis played behind booming serves and heavy groundstrokes this should be right up your street.

Injuries hurt Tsonga over the last eighteen months but he has benefited from a couple of withdrawals which means going into the Australian Open as a Seed. He is a former Finalist here and the Tsonga game is well suited to the faster surfaces, although I do think the Frenchman has lost half a step around the court.

He will still hit with power behind the serve and the forehand and that can help him get forward and put things away at the net to shorten points. Over the last twelve months Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is still proving to be difficult to break with 89% of his service games played on the hard courts in 2019 ending with a hold. That is an impressive number and it will make it difficult to beat him, although Tsonga continues to be nothing more than an average returner.

That return game will be tested by Alexei Popyrin, although he will be disappointed with his own mark of 83% of service games ending with a hold on the hard courts in 2019. The Australian has lost back to back matches on his way into the tournament which will have knocked confidence.

Alexei Popyrin did reach the Third Round at both the Australian Open and US Open in 2019, but he held just 72% of service games on the hard courts in main ATP matches through the course of 2019. At the same time he broke in just 10% of return games and I do think it will be a tough match for him against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga if the former Finalist is playing anything near the level he produced over the last twelve months.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did lose in straight sets to Miomir Kecmanovic in the only match he has played in 2020, but I expect a much better all around effort from him in this match. I do think Alexei Popyrin will be highly motivated as he takes on a player he idolised when he was growing up, but Tsonga should be too good and can win a couple of Tie-Breakers on his way to a win in three or four sets.


David Goffin - 5.5 games v Jeremy Chardy: 2019 was something of a disappointment for David Goffin, which may be surprising to read considering he is still the World Number 11. However there were some declining numbers and that was also evident on the hard courts so the performances in the ATP Cup earlier this month is a huge boost for the Belgian player.

He went 3-1 at the ATP Cup and David Goffin had good looking wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal which has to have given him a lot of confidence to take into the tournament. This has been the weakest of the Grand Slams for David Goffin in terms of consistent performances, but he has reached a Quarter Final in Melbourne before.

I mentioned there had been a decline in the numbers for David Goffin in 2019 compared with recent years, but those numbers were still decent enough. The Belgian looked to have had his eye in when it comes to the return of serve at the ATP Cup which is going to be a bonus for him, but it can be difficult to back him to cover a spread like this one when his serve has become a little more vulnerable on the hard courts.

I just don't know if Jeremy Chardy is going to be the player to expose those vulnerabilities as the veteran Frenchman continues to have an average return. He has opened the season with a couple of wins over players Ranked outside the top 50, but Jeremy Chardy's two losses have come against those inside the top 30 and I do think he is a player that can struggle to bridge the gap with a fairly one-dimensional game.

The Chardy serve can be a big weapon for him when he is at his best, and he did hold in 87% of the service games played on this surface on the main ATP Tour in 2019. However that is significantly better than his numbers of recent years and and the early signs in 2020 is that those will return something closer to his average of around 80%.

Last year Jeremy Chardy was 1-6 against top 20 Ranked players on the hard courts and he was holding in 79% of service games played against those opponents. In those matches Chardy also broke serve in 11% of return games and David Goffin was a dominant winner over the Frenchman when these players met on the grass courts of Wimbledon in July 2019.

While it is a big number if David Goffin is struggling with his serve, I do think he can be aided by Jeremy Chardy's average return game.


Gilles Simon - 1.5 sets v Pablo Cuevas: Two veterans of the Tour have to be preparing for this First Round match at the Australian Open knowing it is a big chance to put some Ranking points on the board. I don't think either Pablo Cuevas or Gilles Simon will be intimidated by the match they have to deal with in this opening Grand Slam match, but the favourite in the match looks the right one as far as I am concerned.

In recent years the hard court portion of the season has been nothing more than a hindrance to Pablo Cuevas getting back onto the clay courts. He has not had a lot of wins on the surface and Cuevas has opened the 2020 season with a 1-4 record on the surface having played at the ATP Cup.

The numbers have been nothing more than average for the main part for Pablo Cuevas, although he will feel he can have a little more success against Giles Simon. The veteran Frenchman is still capable of playing some of his better tennis on the hard courts, but he is not a dominant player on this surface by any stretch of the imagination and Simon is just 1-1 to open the 2020 season.

His serve has long been a weakness, but Simon might not be exposed by someone like Pablo Cuevas who has had a below-average return on the hard courts. While the Uruguayan has a bigger serve when he is feeling things, Gilles Simon is someone who can get a lot of balls back in play and that defensive skill may end up frustrating Cuevas and eventually leading to a string of games going against him.

They haven't met for some time on the Tour, but Simon did have the better of their previous meetings. I am not sure that is completely relevant in 2020, but I do have to take on board how well Gilles Simon seemed to match up with Pablo Cuevas and this match is being played on a surface that should favour the Frenchman by some margin.

It should be a match that Gilles Simon ends up being pretty comfortable in and I do think he can win it in three or four sets and move through to the Second Round to be played on Thursday.


Daniil Medvedev - 7.5 games v Francis Tiafoe: One of the brightest up and coming players on the ATP Tour is Daniil Medvedev who is the third favourite to win the title in Melbourne. The Russian reached the US Open Final a few months ago and Medvedev has been playing the best tennis on a consistent basis outside of the current top two in the World Rankings.

He did not have the best ATP Finals in London, but Medvedev was a touch unfortunate in that tournament and looked good at the ATP Cup earlier this month. The hard court numbers over the last twelve months have been very, very impressive although it should be noted that Daniil Medvedev has to make shorter work of opponents if he is going to have enough in the gas tank to win a Grand Slam.

That will be the task in front of him in this First Round match against Francis Tiafoe who is the Number 50 Ranked player in the world. The American has shown flashes of what he is going to be capable of, but his hard court numbers over the last couple of years have been average to say the least while Tiafoe has lost both matches played in 2020.

Francis Tiafoe just doesn't serve with the same consistency as Daniil Medvedev and that is underlined on the hard courts where the American has held 80% of service games compared with Medvedev's 85% number over the 2019 season. In his two losses to open this season, Tiafoe has held in just 72% of his service games played and he has simply not been as effective as a returner to make up for those shortcomings.

It could be a real problem for him in this match and I do think Medvedev is going to find a set where he is able to dominate the score to put himself in a position to cover a big number. These two players met on the hard courts in Washington a few months ago and Daniil Medvedev held 90% of his service games played that day compared with Francis Tiafoe's 60% number.

There are times I watch Francis Tiafoe and I see the obvious qualities he has, but I do think Daniil Medvedev is going to keep him under pressure with his returning numbers. That should see the American crack and it will give Medvedev a chance to put the breaks together which can see him get over this line.

MY PICKS: Dominic Thiem - 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Miomir Kecmanovic - 1.5 Sets @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 1.5 Sets @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
David Goffin - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Gilles Simon - 1.5 Sets @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Daniil Medvedev - 7.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Jennifer Brady + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Veronika Kudermetova - 4.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 3-1, + 2.70 Units (8 Units Staked, + 33.75% Yield)

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