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Thursday, 23 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 5 Picks 2020 (January 24th)

In recent years the Australian Open has been a tournament that has dealt with some of the warmest weather on the Tour which has affected players, but it has been a cooler start to this year's event. That has helped players and especially those who have already been involved in some very long matches as we get into the Third Round of the first Grand Slam of the 2020 season.

Day 5 is the beginning of the Third Round and the tournament is on track thanks to the organisers investing in three roofs.

Other Grand Slams are following suit and even the French Open is going to have covering for the first time in 2020, while the US Open and Wimbledon have multiple roofed courts. Those three events have tended to need the covering more than the Australian Open, but this year has proved how important it was in Melbourne to have an ability to keep the tennis going even when conditions have not been the best.

It continues to be a mixed start to the tournament for the Tennis Picks which is a little frustrating as I look to get the 2020 season off to a strong showing. Hopefully things can begin to pick up on Day 5 with the first of the Third Round Picks.

Marton Fucsovics - 2.5 games v Tommy Paul: A chance to reach the second week of a Grand Slam is a huge boost for the winner of this Third Round match between Marton Fucsovics and Tommy Paul. Both of these players have knocked out a Seed in this section of the draw to open things up for themselves and I think both Fucsovics and Paul will believe they can win this match.

Tommy Paul had an impressive five set win over Grigor Dimitrov in the Second Round a couple of days ago, but you do have to wonder how much was taken out of him. He had to spend well over four hours on the court to win that match and coming off one of the biggest wins in his career means he will have to emotionally deal with a much lower profile of match next time out.

That has seen many players fail to produce their very best tennis and I do think Paul has to be a little concerned about whether he can put his focus together for this one. He played well in the win over Dimitrov, but Tommy Paul was also a touch fortunate to come through.

The American has been in fine form to open 2020 though and that is encouraging for the 22 year old, although he is running into an in-form Marton Fucsovics who upset Denis Shapovalov in the First Round. The Hungarian reached the Quarter Final in Doha having won a couple of Qualifiers to get into the main draw and he has been a solid, if not spectacular, hard court player throughout his career.

Marton Fucsovics backed up his win over Shapovalov in the perfect way when knocking off Jannick Sinner in the Second Round and he spent almost half the time on the court that Tommy Paul did to get into the Third Round. Overall he should be the fresher player too and I think that plays into the match as his solid game is enough to edge out his younger opponent.

I do think there is a lot to like about Tommy Paul's game, but this might be a case of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' for him and Marton Fucsovics may just be a little too solid for him.

Tennys Sandgren-Sam Querrey over 42 games: This might not have been the Third Round match most would have put down in their bracket at the start of the tournament, but two Americans meet at the Australian Open with some huge Ranking points on the line.

Two years ago Tennys Sandgren reached the Quarter Final at the Australian Open to announce himself on the Tour, but he has slipped back to Number 100 in the World Rankings. With that in mind his two wins here will have given him a huge boost and Sandgren showed some resiliency to come through his Second Round match against a top ten opponent in Matteo Berrettini.

It took five sets to earn one of the big upsets in the Men's draw so far, and that has to be a slight concern for Sandgren. He spent quite a bit of time on court and he invested a lot of himself emotionally into that match too, but the Sandgren serve has been firing and that remains his biggest weapon.

The serve will be key against compatriot Sam Querrey who beat Borna Coric in the First Round and has dropped just a single set here. Sam Querrey has reached four Grand Slam Quarter Finals in the past, but all of those runs have come at either Wimbledon or the US Open and this is a mental obstacle for Querrey to overcome on Day 5 as he has never reached the second week at the Australian Open.

I was quite surprised to learn that, but Sam Querrey is favoured to win this match with his strong serving making him dangerous so far this week. However the big American has a poor return and we could get a similar match to when these two met at Wimbledon last July.

Both players have been serving well in 2020 without showing a lot of success on the return of serve and that should come out here too. When they met at Wimbledon last year, there was just one break of serve in four sets played and I think there will be limited chances in this one too and with every chance of at least four sets being needed in this Third Round match it makes the total games market an appealing one.

A couple of Tie-Breakers should pave the way to surpass the total games line and I would not be surprised to see them split with each player taking one. Very little is going to be between these players on the day and a big-serving outing from both should see plenty of games needed.

Stefanos Tsitsipas-Milos Raonic over 42 games: Injuries have dropped Milos Raonic down the World Rankings which meant he was always likely to have a very difficult Third Round match in front of him. In truth the Canadian is a touch fortunate to be the Number 32 Seed here considering he is Number 35 in the World Rankings, but Raonic has made easy work of his first two matches at the Australian Open.

This is a tournament Milos Raonic has enjoyed in the past having reached the Quarter Final four times including in 2019. It does mean there is a bit of pressure on the former top ten Ranked player as he will have another drop in the World Rankings if he is beaten before that Round this time around, but Milos Raonic has to be very happy with his early performances.

The level goes up significantly in the Third Round when Milos Raonic takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas who won the ATP Finals in November. Stefanos Tsitsipas was not at his best at the ATP Cup earlier this month, but he has only needed to win one match to reach the Third Round having been the recipient of a walkover in the Second Round.

Getting in some additional rest in the Grand Slam tournaments is a bonus, but Tsitsipas won't want to be cold going into this match against such a dangerous opponent. It is a match in which Tsitsipas is going to have show some strong mental resilience against a huge server who can take the racquet out of his hands.

What makes it even more difficult for Tsitsipas is that he is not renowned for his returning skills on the hard courts and I do think Milos Raonic is going to put him under some severe scrutiny in the match. At the same time Raonic is going to be tested by Stefanos Tsitsipas' strong serving ability and I think the layers might be missing a trick by having the total games market line at least a couple of games too low in this one.

I would be very surprised if either player is able to roll through the other on the early season form- Milos Raonic was beaten early in Doha, but has looked good at this tournament, while Stefanos Tsitsipas was only 1-2 at the ATP Cup before his First Round win here.

With both players capable of some huge serving and perhaps not blessed with the best returns, I do think Tie-Breakers are going to be in play. We should get at least the four sets that will be needed to have a chance of seeing this line covered and I will look for the total games mark to be surpassed.

John Millman + 7.5 games v Roger Federer: A couple of wins at the ATP Cup and a run to the Quarter Final in Auckland did not earn John Millman a lot of respect in his early matches at the Australian Open. Instead he has beaten Ugo Humbert and Hubert Hurkacz as the underdog and John Millman won't be worried about people dismissing his chances in this Third Round match either.

In the main the fans will be behind the Australian at his home Grand Slam, but facing Roger Federer will always mean split loyalties for many in the crowd. That shouldn't bother John Millman either and there will have been a lot of talk about the upset the latter had over Federer at the US Open eighteen months ago.

On that day the weather conditions were not ideal for Federer, but he did not deal with them as well as John Millman did. Revenge may be talked about in the media, but Federer himself is only focused on progressing through the draw as his Quarter has opened up thanks to a number of Seeds being dumped out before we have gotten to the Third Round.

Roger Federer has looked in very good form in the opening two matches here and that makes him very dangerous to oppose, but I do think Millman is getting too many games here. Of course Federer is capable of making me look very foolish very quickly, but I would expect a lot more resistance from John Millman than we got from Steve Johnson and Filip Krajinovic, especially in front of his own fans.

The numbers on the hard courts clearly favour Roger Federer, and John Millman was crushed by Rafael Nadal at the US Open just a few months ago. However that is the only time the Australian has been blown away by a top 20 Ranked opponent on the hard courts at the Grand Slam level, while his head to head with Roger Federer will give him some encouragement.

In those matches John Millman has struggled to have a really big impact on the Roger Federer serve, but his own serve has been looked after better than you may expect. In the two hard court matches Federer has held 86% of service games played compared with Millman's 83% mark and I do think that will help the latter at least keep this one within the number set on the handicap.

Roger Federer is capable of rolling through opponents, but I think John Millman is playing well enough to play his part in a good match.

Roberto Bautista Agut - 4.5 games v Marin Cilic: One of the most in-form players on the Tennis circuit dropped his first set of 2020 in the Second Round at the Australian Open, but Roberto Bautista Agut only gave up another seven games from that point to move into the Third Round. He has now won all eight matches played in 2020 including six in a row at the ATP Cup and Bautista Agut has been set as the favourite for this match.

It would not have been the case in previous matches against Marin Cilic, but the former US Open Champion has not been playing at a very good level over the last twelve months. Marin Cilic just had to spend over three and a half hours on court to beat Benoit Paire having trailed 2-1 in sets in the Second Round, but he will also know he can't afford to get into that position against someone like Roberto Bautista Agut.

While he has opened 2020 in good looking form, Marin Cilic is still showing some vulnerabilities having had such a difficult 2019 on the hard courts. The serve was not as dominant as in previous years, while his return really has continued to be a problem for the Croatian.

Usually you might not worry about that so much when facing Roberto Bautista Agut, but the Spaniard has been in fine form on that side of his game. His serve was also in good shape in 2019 and I think that is going to be important in this Third Round match, while Bautista Agut has shown more consistency on the return of serve on this surface over the last twelve months.

Some may be a little concerned by the 4-2 head to head advantage Marin Cilic holds over Roberto Bautista Agut, but in a strange twist the two wins held by the Spaniard have both come at the Australian Open. The last of those came twelve months ago in a five set win for Bautista Agut and I do think he can get the better of this match again.

The hard court head to head is 3-2 in favour of Marin Cilic, but those matches have been tight with both holding 85% of their service games played on this surface. However it is in the two matches at the Australian Open where Roberto Bautista Agut has shined having held serve in 93% of service games played against Marin Cilic in this tournament compared with 80% for the Croatian.

On current form you have to like Roberto Bautista Agut anyway and those numbers from the two previous matches here are encouraging. The Spaniard would have covered what looks a big line in both of those wins and I will back him to make it a hat-trick on Day 5 at the 2020 tournament.

Naomi Osaka - 5.5 games v Cori Gauff: There is a lot of respect between Naomi Osaka and the up and coming Cori Gauff, but at the moment there is a big gap between the levels these two players can produce. All eyes have been on the young American Cori Gauff who announced herself in a big way in 2019 at Wimbledon, but Naomi Osaka is only 22 years old and already holds two Grand Slam titles and is the defending Champion here.

It is perhaps no surprise at all that Naomi Osaka goes into the Third Round match as a significant favourite and she did crush Cori Gauff for the loss of just three games when these two met at the same stage at the US Open a few months ago. On that occasion Osaka crushed the Gauff serve and the first serve of the Japanese star was enough to control the match.

Things might not go much differently in this match with Naomi Osaka coming into the Australian Open with some good form behind her from the limited 2020 matches played. Even in Melbourne Osaka has been dominant through the first two Rounds and hung tough even when she has faced some difficult moments which makes her a genuine threat to win another Grand Slam title over the coming days.

There is plenty to be excited about when talking about Cori Gauff and what she is going to be capable of doing on the circuit as she develops. The American has two good wins here in Melbourne and her numbers on the main WTA Tour on this surface have been impressive for someone as young as Gauff is.

However those numbers are some way down on what Naomi Osaka is able to produce on this surface. The serve should be the key for Osaka and the World Number 4 will likely be able to take some big swings on the return to power through Gauff in this one and work her way through to a comfortable win on the scoreboard.

It should be a fun match to watch, but Naomi Osaka can highlight the difference in levels between her and her young opponent with a cover of this line.

MY PICKS: Marton Fucsovics - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tennys Sandgren-Sam Querrey Over 42 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Stefanos Tsitsipas-Milos Raonic Over 42 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
John Millman + 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Naomi Osaka - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Julia Goerges @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Shuai Zhang + 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Australian Open: 15-16, - 5.68 Units (62 Units Staked, - 9.16% Yield)

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