OUR luck isn’t getting much better so far this Australian Open, with a five set loss from two sets to one up to add to two retirements, one other injury, and one loss from a point away – and we haven’t finished week one yet.
Andreas Seppi was the latest, and the Italian really handed the initiative right back to Frances Tiafoe by getting broken when serving first in sets four and five, which is poor for a player of his experience.
The other one I mentioned as a possible play, Roberto Bautista Agut won in straight sets after drifting in the betting, while our quarter winner outright is into round four, but he’ll have to face what looks a pretty fit Rafa Nadal.
We’ve got the remaining round three matches to analyse on Saturday and the weather is expected to be cool by Melbourne standards, with the dial peaking at only 22C in the shade, with plenty of wind around at up to 26kph speeds.
David Goffin vs Daniil Medvedev
There are a few reasons to think that this price of 1.46 on Medvedev in this 01:30 (approx.) UK time clash with Goffin on Melbourne Arena is a tad short.
As with six of the eight matches on the card today it’s a first time career meeting, but looking at some of the numbers of this pair shows that there’s little between them on this surface.
Goffin’s numbers have been boosted by an easy win over Christian Garin, but he’s still up at 108.6 in his hold/break total for the last 12 months at main level, while Medvedev is on 107.4.
But it’s in the matches played against the current top-25 in the last year where we see a gap in favour of Goffin, who’s gone 5-5 win/loss against them and chalked up a hold/break total of 98.3, while Medvedev is 3-7 and 93.2.
Goffin’s actually held serve more often at 82.4% against the top-25 than he has against all opposition this past year on outdoor hard, while Medvedev, more typically, drops to 75.8% holds from 82.7% when faced with top-25 opposition.
Another factor that I think will favour Goffin (as well as the cool weather forecast) is the fact that it’ll be played on Melbourne Arena, rather than the quicker Court 7 and Court 20 that he played his first two matches on.
Furthermore, Medvedev admitted to having “bad thoughts” ahead of his clash with Ryan Harrison: “When I went to the court today I didn’t feel very well,” he said. “I was nervous and realised that I could lose control of the match.”
It’s not surprising that there were a few nerves around, given that he’s yet to make a last-16 at a slam and as we’ve seen with Alexander Zverev it’s not that easy to take your tour form and automatically turn it into going deep at majors for young players.
Given Goffin’s layoff due to injury I’d make Medvedev a slight favourite, but not a 1.45 chance and for the Belgian is the value of the day at 2.75.
It’s proving very tough to hit winners on Laver at night with these new Dunlop balls and the fact that Denis Shapovalov will have to hit them past a supreme defender in Novak Djokovic makes it hard to fancy the Canadian for the upset.
At least Shapo has a day match, but he’d need a faster court than Laver for me, however another of the young up and comers Alexei Popyrinhas a shot against the struggling Lucas Pouille.
Popyrin left me disappointed when I backed him in Brisbane in week one, but there’s nothing in Pouille’s recent form or stats that should really worry the Aussie.
The 19-year-old will relish this night match on Margaret Court Arena and it’s not as slow there as Laver, so with his power he should still be able to rush Pouille, whose record at this tournament and in this country is poor.
Pouille is 2-5 in the main draw of the Australian Open (92.7 hold/break total) and he’s lost 13 of his last 18 matches in this country at all levels, so there’s certainly a case to be made that the conditions here are just a touch quick for him.
His serve got him over the line against Max Marterer in a match that he scored one more point in in total and he’ll need that weapon today to keep the aggressive Popyrin at bay.
I like taking a chance on the 2.43 on set one to Popyrin here.
Elsewhere, Borna Coric’s possible fitness question mark (left thigh) is likely to be the only thing that’ll allow Filip Krajinovic to get near the win in their clash.
Krajinovic is 1-6 win/loss versus the current top-25 on this surface (4-13 on all surfaces) and has held serve just 57.2% of the time in those seven matches (67.3% on all surfaces).
Pierre-Hugues Herbert has lost seven of his last nine against the big servers in my database and I wouldn’t fancy his composure against that of Milos Raonic in a match likely to be settled by the odd important point or two.
It’s also hard to back Fabio Fognini as favourite against Pablo Carreno Busta, with the Italian having lost all five career clashes against PCB in which he’s held serve just 63.5% of the time (and only 58.1% in the two played on indoor hard).