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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 3 Picks 2020 (January 22nd)

I should really be coming in with a winning mark after the first couple of days at the Australian Open, but that has not been the case so far. One or two matches have just slipped away from winning positions, which is frustrating, but this is a long tournament.

The most obvious one was the Daniil Medvedev failure to cover having allowed Francis Tiafoe to recover one of the double breaks in the first set and then missing out on the cover by a single game despite dropping a set. He won't care as he makes his way through to the Second Round and the majority of the top names have managed to negotiate the First Round here, although there have been one or two upsets scattered around the draw.

There are still a couple of First Round matches to be played on Wednesday after a long day in Melbourne saw almost the entire Singles Round scheduled to be played. Those players yet to play might be disappointed with the schedule, especially as the weather conditions look a bit more difficult with wind perhaps an issue for those due to head out to the courts.

Rain is also around in the next couple of days which could put the tournament behind the schedule with Second Round matches perhaps being delayed through to Friday.

However in this thread I am focusing on Tennis Picks from Day 3 at the Australian Open and the Second Round matches from the top half of the Women's draw and the bottom half of the Men's draw.

Yoshihito Nishioka v Daniel Evans: I have to give Daniel Evans a lot of credit for the way he has bounced back from his ban for social drug use as he was not given a lot of help by tournaments to recover his World Ranking. A costly mistake looked to have come at a vital time in his career, but Evans went back to the Challenger level and used the confidence to return to the ATP Tour and reach a new career high World Ranking of Number 32 prior to the Australian Open beginning.

He almost gave himself no time to celebrate though as Evans found himself two sets down in the First Round as a big favourite, but he spent over three hours on court to turn things around and move into the Second Round. There is no way Daniel Evans can be as loose with his play for a second match in a row as he takes on Yoshihito Nishioka who has yet to fulfil the kind of potential many believe he has.

Injuries haven't helped the cause for Nishioka, but I am still surprised to see that he has yet to crack the top 50 in the World Rankings despite showing plenty of flashes of his talent. He came through in four sets in the First Round, although Nishioka's style of play is one that can give opponents a chance to get into rallies and so he can spend a lot longer on the court than he perhaps should.

Like Daniel Evans, Yoshihito Nishioka spent a lot of time on the court in the First Round and needed almost three hours to win his First Round match. The young Japanese player is now 3-1 on the hard courts against top 50 Ranked opponents in the 2020 season and he has held 83% of service games played in those matches.

Daniel Evans has been in fine form too with his sole losses coming against Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev, two players who have begun 2020 in good fashion. However he is holding 81% of service games played, and the real difference between the players is that Nishioka has been breaking in 35% of return games played when facing top 50 Ranked opponents and the British player is at 30% overall.

There really isn't much in those numbers, but Nishioka also holds a 2-0 head to head lead over Daniel Evans with both wins coming on the hard courts and one just last season. In those head to head matches, it is the Japanese player who has held 83% of service games played compared with Daniel Evans' mark of 60% and I do think Yoshihito Nishioka might match up well with the higher Ranked player.

He has the defensive skills to maintain rallies and Nishioka looks to get a little more out of the serve which makes the underdog look an appealing price in this Second Round match.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 7.5 games v Michael Mmoh: One of the key figures for Spain in their run to the Final of the ATP Cup was Roberto Bautista Agut who won all six matches there and did not drop a single set.

He continued that hot form in the opening match of the Australian Open when crushing compatriot Feliciano Lopez in straight sets and Roberto Bautista Agut has to be feeling pretty good about the tennis he has been producing. Over the last twelve months the serve has become a key source for success for the Spaniard and Roberto Bautista Agut has been making it very difficult to break his serve with the level he has produced so far in 2020.

The return of serve has always been a strength for Bautista Agut, but his levels have been even better than usual in the early parts of 2020. He has created a host of break points in the early matches played and Roberto Bautista Agut has been very strong on that side of his game which is going to hurt Michael Mmoh unless he can find an exceptional level.

The American is going to be comfortable on the hard courts and had a strong win in the First Round, but Michael Mmoh has struggled to turn his Challenger form into one that can be effective on the main Tour. His numbers are largely fairly average for even the Challenger level and so it is perhaps not a big surprise to see Mmoh outside the top 200 in the World Rankings.

Michael Mmoh has won sets at Grand Slam level before so he shouldn't be overwhelmed by the occasion, although winning a match at this level was a big step in his career. Taking the next one by knocking off one of the top players on the Tour might be asking too much, especially as Mmoh has found his serve being very vulnerable at this level with 62% of service games being held.

Now he has to take on someone who seems to have his eye firmly in on the return and Bautista Agut should be also be motivated to have some revenge on Michael Mmoh who does hold a win over him. On that day Mmoh was clinical with the break points that came his way in the narrow win over the Spaniard, but I am not sure that is going to happen again and so backing Roberto Bautista Agut to use his superior numbers to good enough effect to cover this mark looks to be the play.

Marin Cilic - 1.5 sets v Benoit Paire: 2019 proved to be a very difficult year for Marin Cilic as injuries took their toll on him and dropped him to Number 39 in the World Rankings. He will be looking for a big start to 2020 to try and improve that as soon as possible, and the straight sets win over Corentin Moutet in the First Round in Melbourne looks a strong result considering the Frenchman reached the Final in Doha.

Marin Cilic faces another in-form Frenchman in the Second Round when taking on Benoit Paire, although this will be a more familiar opponent than Moutet considering they are playing for the sixth time. Benoit Paire won a couple of matches at the ATP Cup and also reached the Final in Auckland to give him a very good start to 2020, although Paire needed to spend almost double the time on court in the First Round to win his match in five sets compared with Marin Cilic.

The limited sample of matches in 2020 shows Paire has been in good form, but he has long been an average player on the hard courts. There are flashes of quality from Benoit Paire and he can be very enjoyable to watch, but ultimately this is a player who has struggled to fulfil some of the expectation people had on him and I do think Cilic is a worthy favourite in the match.

The Cilic numbers were down across the board on the hard courts in 2019, but he does look to be in better form in the limited matches played in 2020. However all three wins have come against players Ranked 70 or lower and that does lessen some of the enthusiasm in picking him, although Cilic has matched up well with Benoit Paire in the past too.

In the previous five matches Marin Cilic has held 88% of the service games played against Benoit Paire compared with 72% for the Frenchman. Those numbers are ever so slightly tighter when only considering hard court matches between these players, and the performances of the two from the First Round has me favouring Marin Cilic to come through in three or four sets.

MY PICKS: Yoshihito Nishioka @ 2.30 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 7.5 Games @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 1.5 Sets @ 1.72 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Elena Rybakina - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Dayana Yastremska - 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 8-7, - 0.52 Units (30 Units Staked, - 1.73% Yield)

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