Will try to give a look of what’s interesting in terms of clashes,potential upsets and hopefully where the value is in each round,while picking several matches to preview
Two players that surely can’t be satisfied with the way the year has started, meet here in the 1st round of the Aussie Open.
Vasek burst into the scene with a Wimbledon QF last June and career rank of 25, but since he just couldn’t take advantage and do more steps further in his development and now hovers around the 40 mark. He started 2016 in Chennai where he surprisingly lost to Bedene, won a shootout with Karlovic in Auckland before he lost to the eventual finalist Jack Sock.
He has played the Aus Open only 3 times, despite he is 25 years old, and lost in the 3rd round last year to Guillermo Garcia Lopez, his best showing to date. His physical condition, still remains an issue, and he often gets involved in long 5 set battles while cramping towards the end, nevermind the competition he is up against.
He has lost 9 of the 14 1st round matches in Grand Slams and facing Simon he is up against some really bad trends as well. The Canadian has lost the last 13 matches against top 20 opponents in all competitions and overall he is only 8-37 in his career while going with -34.1% ROI.
Simon, who has been around the top 20 for almost a decade, comes here with only 1 win – coming in an exhibition against Feliciano Lopez in Kooyong. After the first part of last year, including great Grass season, he found it hard to sustain the form and won more than 2 matches in a tournament only once after Wimbledon.
He is a lethal counter puncher who will make it hard for the offensive Pospisil. Worth to note is that the French has 41-15 record with +6.3 ROI in the last 12 months when he faces someone lower than him in the rankings. The stats gets even more one sided when you factor that on the Grand Slams alone – 66W-18L with +17.5% ROI. With the loss of last year’s US Open in the 1st round Gilles streak was snapped to 16 matches by Donald Young and now Simon is up against the possibility losing in the 1st round in 2 consecutive Slams for the first time since 2006 (RG + Wimbledon) . Odds on the French should be shorter than the available 1.50 right now.
Thiem recently retired in a 2nd round match in Sydney due to blisters, but he should be ready to go here against the crafty and very dangerous Leonardo Mayer. That withdrawal came a week after he reached the Semis in Brisbane with an upset against Marin Cilic in the process.
2 years ago the Austrian managed to come from the qualies, and lost his 2nd match in the MD to Kevin Anderson, and this remains his best showing up to date in the 1st Grand Slam of the year as the year after the Draw wasn’t that kind to him.
Thiem has played only 17 matches in best of 5 sets, winning 9 of them and he usually gets beyond the first hurdle with a 6-2 win/loss record in the last 8 Grand Slams.
Even though the both have had good showings on all surfaces, clay still remains their biggest income for points and prize money.
Dominic leads the h2h 2-1, but this will be their first meeting on Hard court.
Despite the Argentinian’s recent losses he showed some powerful display and even had the chance to take a set against World No.1 Novak Djokovic in Doha, but capitulated under the pressure of the Serb while serving at 5-4 in S2. He is priced as a moderate underdog in this match up at 2.35 and hasn’t fared well as of late when he is between 2.00-2.99 in odds, losing 8 in a row and 10 of the last 11, with the last win coming last year in May against Juan Monaco in Nice.
Thiem on other hand fares well when odds on him are between 1.50-1.99 going 8-2 in L10 with +45.8 ROI, but overall his stats drop if you consider him only as a hard court fav going 4-3 in last 12 months with only +0.7 ROI. This match should turn into a nail-biting 5 set thriller as both look pretty even in form and apart their big differences in the stats section
So much can be said about this matchup! Although they’ve met 17 times and Nadal has only 2 losses against him, their epic encounter 7 years ago in the Australian Open Semifinals still remain one of the best and longest matches ever played.
Lot of things have changed since of course and despite their current form or head 2 head this is one of the most interesting encounters from the 1st round in both Men and Women.
Nadal started the year with wins in the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi and then lost in the final to Novak Djokovic in Doha. Since winning the Aus Open back in 2009 he has lost 2 finals (2012, 2014) and last year in the Quarters, while Verdasco had made it as far as the 4-th round here since then.
Nadal has 8 losses in his career while being shorter than 1.20 odds and 2 of them have come in Melbourne Park (to Ferrer in 2011,Wawrinka 2014) while Verdaco has a win priced 6.00+ vs Murray in 2009. Fernando has 3 overall heavy underdog wins and apart from Murray they have come against Nadal – 21.00 in the Madrid Masters in 2012 and 7.18 in Miami Masters 2015.
Verdasco hasn’t been his usual self from a long time now, failing to win 3 matches in a same tournament since Houston in April last year. This could end quickly, but has to be believed that Fernando can make things interesting as he is one of the highest ranked players outside of the seeded ones and the lefty battle between the two could become a war if the lower ranked Spaniard shows what everybody knows he is capable of.
I’ve picked this one to preview just because of the uncertainty every Fognini match brings on the table.
Gilles needs a good tournament to cover his points making it to the 4th round last year getting past the likes of Bautista Agut and John Isner, before Djokovic took him out. Fabio lost as a 1.40 favourite to Alejandro Gonzalez in Mebourne Park 12 months ago and if we discard his sudden burst in 2014 when he reached the 4th round, he had dropped 7 of his last 9 1st round matches in Melbourne
Muller bounced back with QF appearance in Sydney after a bad loss to Fabbiano in Chennai a week before as a 1.20 odd favourite while Fabio lost in the quarters in Auckland to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The Luxembourg native has only 26-24 w/l record while being a 1.50-1.99 fav with a disastrous -16.0% ROI while Fognini is 25-25 in the same period priced between 2.00-2.99 but with +20.3 ROI.
Odds seems to be put correctly as both look pretty even in the beginning of the year, but given Fabio’s bad results here the Italian is the deserved slight underdog and those two should eclipse the 41.5 games total set if Fognini is here to play.
This is probably the toughest opponent, in terms of ranking, that Serena will face in order to get her form back while trying to defend her title in Melbourne.
She withdrew from Hopman Cup while down a set to Jarmila Wolfe with knee inflammation, but in a recent interview she insisted that is absolutely ready for the 2 week grinding that comes up.
Williams hasn’t played a full competitive match since losing in the US Open semis to Roberta Vinci last September, but this is not the first time she hasn’t played for an extended time and then returns and smashes the competition
Serena has won the title 6 times, but also has 3 loses while being a fav of 1.20 odd or less here in Melbourne.
Camila is a sort of player that don’t think much who is on the other side of the net, playing her ultra-offensive style from first to last ball of the match.
The Italian lost a highly competitive encounter with Serena’s sister Venus last year in Australian Open’s 3rd round.
They’ve played 2 times before, Serena winning both in straight sets and the Italian. Williams will be very vulnerable early on of the tournament given her long layoff from playing competitive matches and also with the hot conditions not in her favour Giorgi’s odds begun to shorten a bit already
29-th player in the world meets 38-th in the 1st round, draws sometimes can be cruel!
Mladenovic’s form dipped a lot after the US Open last year, winning only a handful of matches and not been able to take home one in 2 played tournaments in 2016. The French is 11-10 in Last 12 months as an underdog between 2.00-2.99 with a nice +18.9 ROI while Cibulkova is 7-7 with -13.8% ROI as a fav between 1.50-1.99. Actually both players prefer the underdog role as their stats point towards that trend.
After a surprising final in 2014, beating Sharapova, Halep, Radwanska just to lose the final to Li Na, Dominika made it deep last year again, eliminated in the Quarters.
Looks like Melbourne brings all the best from her, as she has made numerous upsets in her last 2 years competing in Australia.
Dominika leads the h2h 5-0, but in the last match in New Haven, Kristina had all the chances to finally turn the 0 to 1,but couldn’t convert on the big points to lose 2-6,7-6,7-5.
The Slovak has also changed her racket – switching from Dunlop to Babolat, so it may take some time to get completely comfortable with. Sydney’s SF appearance just a week ago give the indication she is a quick learner and this is probably a smooth transition.
Odds between 1.5-1.6 may seem low on Cibulkova but given the facts and h2h it can be seen as a value as well.
Caroline has been steadily improving her game in recent months, and although it was during exhibition event, the Hopman Cup, she managed to take her 3 matches against Watson, Gavrilova and Lisicki. She proceed that with Sydney’s 2nd round loss in which she took a set from world no.2 Simona Halep.
Garcia is looking to build confidence in Grand Slam as well, where she has lost her last 3 R1 matches.
She almost become part of the history as well. While teaming up with Kristina Mladenovic they were on course to end Hingis/Mirza’s 29 match win streak while leading 6-1,5-2 but couldn’t hold on for the win.
Garcia also boosts a good 8-2 record in last 10 while being priced around 1.50 or short ,but more impressive is Strycova’s one as being a slight underdog – 40-32 with +28% ROI all time
Barbora took a step back in the rankings, after making it to no. 20 in the middle of last year, but now is around 40 and no seed number next to her name.
She has had impressive wins upsetting favourites mixed up with many close losses while being unable to get some wins in a row
Both have negative ROI while competing in Grand Slams and with the Czech leading the h2h 2-1 and preferring to make an upsets, it won’t be that much surprising if Garcia fail to win her opening match
Venus and Konta met for the first time last year in the Wuhan Premier event in late September in which Venus scored a 7-5 victory in the 3rd set while being a slight shorter than odd of 1.40.
Both come here without winning a match in 2016, as Venus lost in R1 in Auckland while trying to defend her title and Johanna in a close encounter to Cibulkova in Hobart.
Venus has 43-7 record in L50 matches while being priced between 1.20-1.499 and 5-0 when she has those odds during Australian Open action. Konta’s record as underdog is even more impressive with 10-10 while priced between 3.00-5.99 or +35% ROI.
The Brit is still trying to find her way in Melbourne, winning 2 matches combined from 3 appearances while this will be Venus’ 16-th showing while boosting a 45-15 record.
Venus and Konta peaked at almost the same time – during the US Open last year and the followed Asian Swing. Those efforts propelled Venus to get back to top 10 by end of 2015, while Konta made a debut in top 50 after being outside of top 100 coming to Flushing Meadows, New York
This has all the ingredients of another 3 setter like in their previous meeting, while we see if the British player can continue to climb the rankings or in the face of the veteran and resilient Venus she will find too big of an obstacle to get through
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