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Friday, 24 January 2020

Australian Open Tennis Day 6 Picks 2020 (January 25th)

The remainder of the Third Round matches will be played at the Australian Open on Saturday as Day 6 of the tournament gets underway.

At the time of writing there have been very few shocks through the first week of the tournament, although the good news is that there should be some exceptional matches to be played before we decide the first Grand Slam Champions of 2020.

And of course that all ended up changing literally an hour after I had written how few real upsets we had seen at the Australian Open. On a devastating day for favourites, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roberto Bautista Agut, Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Querrey were all beaten.

Some were ousted in long matches, others surprisingly quickly but all of those players were 1.60 or shorter in the markets to win and those constitute real upsets. Even Julia Goerges lost as the favourite in her match, while Roger Federer needed to come back from 8-4 down in the Champions Tie-Breaker against John Millman to sneak through to the Fourth Round.

What a day and unsurprisingly it was another poor one for the Tennis Picks- I gave a couple of the underdogs the shot to cause problems, but Tennys Sandgren and Milos Raonic winning in straight sets was extremely unexpected.

It could have been a lot worse if not for a couple of late winners at the back end of the day, but all in all I have to be disappointed with the way things shaped up on Friday.

I have to believe that it can only get better from here at the end of a difficult first week at the Tournament.

Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 games v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: There were a huge amount of upsets throughout Day 6 at the Australian Open and I do think that is going to benefit those players yet to head out onto the court for their Third Round matches. Now there can be no excuses for a lack of focus as the first four days went the way most would have expected, but those upsets will also have encouraged players to believe they can win a Grand Slam here this week.

The majority of the biggest surprises came on the Women's side of the tournament with the likes of Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams exiting the tournament. It won't have an effect on the bottom half of the draw, but the player coming out of this half will believe they are going to be favoured to win the Australian Open.

Karolina Pliskova has started to find her best form at the Grand Slam events, but she would be foolish to look too far down the line. In the Third Round Pliskova is set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who has opened 2020 in fine form and the Russian has been a strong winner in the first couple of Rounds here.

However Pavlyuchenkova is going to have to dig deep to get the better of Karolina Pliskova who has won all six previous matches between these players and five of those have come on the hard courts. They did play a tight match on the grass in 2019, but Karolina Pliskova has not dropped a set against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on the hard courts.

In those previous hard court matches the Pliskova return has surprisingly dominated the outcome of their meetings and that has to be a concern for Pavlyuchenkova. The Czech player has started 2020 in fine form on that side of her game which is backing up what is always a strong serve and I think it does give Karolina Pliskova the edge in this Third Round meeting.

I have to give credit to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for pushing Petra Kvitova and Ashleigh Barty to three sets in tournaments played earlier this month. If she is at her best she does have the capabilities of challenging most players on the Tour, but this has long felt like a bad match up for Pavlyuchenkova and I think Karolina Pliskova comes through with a good, strong looking win to underline her chances to win this Grand Slam.

Angelique Kerber - 3.5 games v Camila Giorgi: There was a slight injury concern for Angelique Kerber going into the Australian Open having pulled out mid-match in her last one prior to this tournament beginning. Those are perhaps put to the back of the mind after seeing the former Champion win her two matches without breaking too much of a sweat, although this match should be a much bigger challenge.

In the Third Round Angelique Kerber gets set to take on Camila Giorgi who has won six of the eight matches she has played in 2020. At the same time you have to say that four of those wins have come in Qualifiers played in the build up to the Australian Open and Giorgi's lack of main draw success has to be a concern.

The Italian has impressed in her two wins so far this week which makes her a threat, but Giorgi's game is very much hit and miss as she will look to go on the offensive no matter where she is on the court. A lack of discipline and playing the percentages can hold Giorgi back and someone who can defend as well as Angelique Kerber is going to present a major challenge for her.

A 0-4 head to head record underlines the point for Camila Giorgi and all of those defeats have come on the hard courts with three of them coming on Australian soil. They haven't played in twelve months since Kerber beat Camila Giorgi in a close match, but ultimately that was the sixth set in a row that the German has won in this head to head.

In those previous matches Camila Giorgi has really struggled with the lefty serve coming from Angelique Kerber and that may pose a problem for her again if she is not at least better focused. The attacking intent of Giorgi has perhaps been the reason she has a relatively decent record against top 20 opponents on the hard courts in recent years, but this is one top 20 player that the Italian has struggled to deal with as Kerber looks to force her to hit one more big shot to win points.

Angelique Kerber should have too much for Camila Giorgi in this one and I will back her to win well enough to cover this spread mark.

Gael Monfils - 1.5 sets v Ernests Gulbis: After coming through two matches in which his opponents were largely short of confidence, Gael Monfils will be looking to raise his level again on Day 6 at the Australian Open. The Frenchman is the favourite to win this match, but he is facing Ernests Gulbis who has been a top 10 player in his career and who has plenty of momentum behind him.

A comfortable straight sets win has kept the good times rolling for Gulbis, but the momentum of coming through three Qualifiers to reach the main draw can't be underestimated. The Latvian has already knocked out a Seeded player when beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the First Round in an upset win so Gulbis will be playing with a lot of belief even after coming off a difficult 2019.

During that season Ernests Gulbis was just 7-17 on the hard courts and his numbers were pretty miserable having held in 78% of service games played and broken in just 16% of return games. The limited sample of 2020 has shown an improvement so far, but the most important part of this run has to be the Ranking points being earned as Gulbis is outside the top 250 in the World Rankings pre-tournament.

He will be desperate to keep his run going, but it won't be easy against Gael Monfils who has long been very comfortable on the hard courts. His level is a little more consistent than Gulbis' level and Gael Monfils has not been pressed too hard in his two wins in Melbourne.

The serve can sometimes be a vulnerability for Monfils when he is not completely focused, but he has a much more effective return than Gulbis. That side of his game should make the difference between the players in this Third Round match, while Gael Monfils also holds a 3-0 head to head lead over Ernests Gulbis.

They might not have played one another for eighteen months, but in their two previous hard court matches Gael Monfils has yet to be broken by Ernests Gulbis. The Frenchman has faced three break points compared with the thirteen he has created in those two matches, and I do think he can come through this match in either three or four sets.

Rafael Nadal - 8.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: Roger Federer might have had to dig very deep to get through his Third Round match at the Australian Open, but Rafael Nadal is not going to want to be pushed when he takes the court for his own Third Round match on Day 6.

He is facing compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta who has benefited from the draw and facing two opponents who are Ranked outside the top 100 in the World Rankings. In both matches Carreno Busta needed four sets to get through to the next Round, and he will be the first to admit that his level is going to need to be much improved to even be competitive in this match.

Rafael Nadal has cruised through his first couple of matches in Melbourne and he holds a strong 4-0 head to head record against Pablo Carreno Busta which makes an upset almost impossible to see. After what happened on Day 5 you can never say never, but it would arguably be the biggest upset at a tournament where Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have not made the second week if Rafael Nadal was beaten.

The World Number 1 has looked in very good form to open 2020 and I do think he is going to have far too much for Pablo Carreno Busta. The latter was beaten by Lloyd Harris in the Quarter Final in Adelaide earlier this month and Carreno Busta is going to have to find a way to protect his serve against one of the stronger hard court return players on the Tour.

In their four previous matches Rafael Nadal has broken in almost half of the return games played against Pablo Carreno Busta and that is an eye-watering mark for the underdog. Granted the majority of those matches have been on the clay courts where breaks of serve can be easier to obtain, but Rafael Nadal was dominant in the one hard court win over his compatriot too.

Over a best of five sets match you would have to believe that Rafael Nadal is going to wear down his opponent much like he did against Federico Delbonis in the Second Round. There will be moments where Pablo Carreno Busta competes, but ultimately this looks a very tough match up for him and the World Number 1 can keep his strong wins coming.

MY PICKS: Karolina Pliskova - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Angelique Kerber - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 1.5 Sets @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 8.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andrey Rublev - 1.5 Sets @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Taylor Fritz-Dominic Thiem Over 39.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
John Isner-Stan Wawrinka Over 44.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Nick Kyrgios-Karen Khachanov Over 39.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Daniil Medvedev - 7.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 4.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Elina Svitolina - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 18-21, - 9.92 Units (78 Units Staked, - 12.72% Yield)

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