Australian Open day 1 betting: Heat is on once again at Melbourne Park

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Updated: January 15, 2017

If there’s one thing that characterises the Australian Open, it’s the heat. Players in action in today’s opening sessions of play will get an early taste of Melbourne’s summer with a forecast top of 31°C and 38°C to follow tomorrow. Betting on the early rounds of a Grand Slam can be a tricky proposition with fitness issues impacting some players. The Australian Open throws up a couple of extra considerations with night-session matches known to stretch into the early hours of the next day while players backing up after a taste of the extreme heat can be at a major disadvantage in the next round against an opponent who’s prevailed in cooler conditions. Tips & previews by Alex Romanovich.

 

The sporting compass of Australia quivers in many different directions across the calendar year. But once the New Year is welcomed, true north points to the massive Melbourne Park tennis complex for the first Grand Slam event of the season – the Australian Open. The tournament dates to 1905 and earned Grand Slam status (along with the French, British and US national championships) in the mid-1920s.

However, the tyranny of distance meant that the world’s best players were often reluctant to make the long trip Down Under and, by the late 1970s, the event’s relevance has sunk to an all-time low. Steadily, the game’s elite returned to the grass courts of the suburban Kooyong complex but that trickle became a flood once the tournament was shifted to the new Melbourne Park complex – firstly on Rebound Ace and since on Plexicushion Prestige. Injury aside, the world’s best players now converge on mid-summer Melbourne to chase a slice of Grand Slam glory.

Men’s preview

Novak Djokovic secured his sixth Australian Open title last year, highlighted by his wins over Roger Federer and Andy Murray, that confirming his status as the world’s pre-eminent player. Victory drew him level with Australia’s Roy Emerson as the most decorated men’s singles champion in tournament history – and in 2017, he goes in search of a seventh triumph. It’s a two-horse race according to the markets with Djokovic ($2.65 with William Hill) a narrow favourite ahead of Murray ($2.75). Only Stan Wawrinka ($13), Rafael Nadal ($15) and Milos Raonic ($19) are also rated better than 20-1 chances.

 

Djokovic (pictured above) and Murray (who faces a likely quarter-final match-up with Roger Federer) should prevail from their quarters while Raonic should join them in the semis. The second quarter is a lottery where Wawrinka looks well under the odds. The main local hope Nick Kyrgios is yet to show he has the temperament to prevail on home soil while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jack Sock will also make their presence felt in this quarter of the draw. Take Murray to go all the way, with Raonic the value pick.

Women’s preview

Serena Williams says she will not be distracted by the thought of moving ahead of Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record at the Australian Open. The American world number two needs one major triumph to go clear of the German’s 22 Open-era titles. She’s played this event on 16 occasions for a staggering return of six titles. Williams is generously priced a $4.00 favourite with defending champion Angelique Kerber a $4.50 chance to go back-to-back.

 

Karolina Pliskova ($8), Garbine Muguruza ($11) and Simona Halep ($12) are also rated realistic chances. But the value reaches well beyond those five players with Kerber (pictured above) and Williams bowing out early in their respective lead-up tournaments. It may pay to play a little wider here with Agnieszka Radwanska ($26), Dominika Cibulkova ($29) and Elina Svitolina ($34) every chance of upsetting the apple cart in their respective quarters. That trio look terrific value while Kerber looks set to go all the way once again.

 

Day 1 preview

Simona Halep should be done and dusted before the mercury climbs too high as she kicks-off today’s Rod Laver Arena program against Shelby Rogers. Venus Williams, Andy Murray, women’s no. 1 seed Angelique Kerber and Roger Federer complete the schedule on Melbourne Park’s stadium court. Other seeds in action today include Garbiñe Muguruza, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic while the main local hope, Nick Kyrgios, will take to the Hisense Arena court tonight to face Gastao Elias. The marketers have dubbed this tournament the “Happy Slam” but don’t expect to see too many smiles in the Kyrgios camp as the fiery your Aussie seems to feed off the drama and controversy that has dogged his career. That said, he looks nice value at the game total line (-7.5).

When Kerber returns to Rod Laver Arena tonight, it will revive memories of her first Grand Slam title at last year’s Australian Open after a stunning three-set win over six-time champion Serena Williams. But Kerber won’t be taking her first-round assignment lightly. She lost to Elina Svitolina in the Brisbane quarter-finals and to Daria Kasatkina in Sydney’s second round so she’ll be keen to dispatch Lesia Tsurenko, a 27-year-old Ukrainian who achieved her best ranking of world no.33 in October 2015, as quickly as possible. Kerber’s best tennis is still probably a week away but she should get the job done tonight inside 19.5 games.

Some of the other matches featuring Aussie contenders are worth a glance from a punting perspective. We watched from Shenzen last September where Bernard Tomic was belted in straight sets by Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 6-2. The Queenslander is on to a preferred surface today but it’s hard to envisage this one will be done and dusted inside 38.5 games ($1.90). Ashleigh Barty returns after a break from the game and looks in great shape. In Brisbane two weeks ago, she pushed Kerber to three sets before retiring as a precaution with shoulder soreness in Hobart last week. Her round one opponent Annika Beck has a terrible record on hard courts in the past 12 months, winning just seven of 22 matches.

 

Confirmed betting (day 1)

Andy Murray v Ilya Marchenko -26.5 total (one unit @ $1.80)
Bernard Tomic v Thomaz Bellucci +38.5 total (one unit @ $1.91)
Nick Kyrgios v Gastao Elias -7.5 line (one unit @ $2.10)
Alexander Bublik v Lucas Pouille 5 sets (one unit @ $4.50)
Karen Khachanov WIN v Adrian Mannarino (one unit @ $1.73)
Nicolas Almagro v Jeremy Chardy WIN (one unit @ $1.85)

Lesia Tsurenko v Angelique Kerber -19.5 games (one unit @ $1.90)
Ashleigh Barty (2-0 sets) v Annika Beck (one unit @ $2.25)
Kurumi Nara WIN v Stefanie Voegele (one unit @ $1.80)
Simona Halep v Shelby Rogers +18.5 (one unit @ $1.73)
Venus Williams v Kateryna Kozlova +20.5 (one unit @ $1.83)
Daria Kasatkina v Shuai Peng +20.5 (one unit @ $1.91)

 

 

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to Pinnacle (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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