Tennis Betting Advice - February 2021

Our plan for the Australian Open...

Friday 5th February 2021

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • Mertens in the semi finals…
  • Australian Open big-price incentives…
  • Day 1 email – Sunday, 5pm...

Cramming it in…

As we noted at the start of this week, the ATP & WTA tournaments held in the days directly before a Grand Slam can be open to all sorts of surprises.

As well as ‘precautionary’ withdrawals from high-profile players, keen to avoid injury or fatigue before a Major…

Even more so this week Down Under, with literally hundreds of matches crammed in at the Melbourne Park venue, as preparations intensify for the first Grand Slam of the year.

Things got even more pressing on Thursday, with a whole day’s play lost due to a coronavirus scare. Thankfully, everyone tested negative, and it was game-on again.

The bunched-up match schedules inevitably triggered a few dropouts. Not to mention a couple of players possibly ‘tanking’ (eg. perhaps not quite giving it their best effort…).

I’m not usually a finger-pointer, so I’ll just say that it was ‘out of character’ to see Borna Coric seemingly deliberately smashing the ball out of play at match-point down against Dan Evans in the ATP Murray River Open quarter finals.

That was both men’s second match of the day. Earlier on, Coric had done what we’d ultimately appointed him to when backing him at 33/1 for the title this week: taking out the favourite Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios appears to have an injury problem, and that really doesn’t bode well for him at the main event next week.

Mertens in the semi finals…

We’ve got one player left standing, and that was our very first selection of the week…

Our 16/1 shot Elise Mertens is through to the WTA Gippsland Trophy semi finals, where she will meet star name Naomi Osaka early on Saturday morning, UK time.

With Serena Williams already giving a Walkover in her semi final at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic (to name just one player that’s pulled out in the last 24 hours, to save themselves for the tournament proper next week)…

It wouldn’t be a massive surprise if Osaka were also to decide to swerve this weekend’s tennis, what with the 1st round of the Australian Open starting on Monday.

As it stands, our player Mertens is now 3/1 for the Gippsland Trophy. And the 6/4 (2.5) match underdog to beat Osaka.

Ones to Watch member Rob has already got himself in a good position on Mertens this week, having also backed the Belgian to win her Quarter of the draw:

“Looking forward to the Aussie Open starting this weekend. However, before then, we have the small matter of Elise Mertens in the Semi-Final of the WTA Gippsland Trophy.

Last year, we suffered a few near misses as you know. So, this year, when you give us a tip for the winner, I also back that person to win their Quarter. Elise was available with Bet365 at odds of 3.75. The beauty of this is that, if Elise loses, I have still covered my bets by her reaching the semi-final”

Good work there, Rob. And not a bad tactic at all.

Along with a 5/1 Match Winner on Katie Boulter beating Coco Gauff on Monday night, it’s been a decent week of preparation for us in Melbourne. With the Australian Open to come over the next fortnight, at the same venue…

Our plan for the Australian Open…

Play starts late on Sunday night, UK time. As a Ones to Watch member, you get all of this:

  • All my analysis, bets & advice for the Australian Open 2021. Two weeks of dedicated coverage
  • Including big-odds Each Way picks – first Outright Winner bets on Sunday
  • DAILY Australian Open email with all my advice – sent to you by 5pm every day, and also posted on the website
  • Members-only access – I’ll be on hand every day to help you out. With an exclusive email address for you to contact me during the tournament:

The Australian Open draws have been made. I’ll be studying them over the weekend, along with the 1st round matches & markets.

Once again, you and I will be going after the big prices, backing youngsters and outsiders to spring the latest Grand Slam surprise…

A history of big prices Down Under…

This tournament has been a rich source of big odds in recent times.

The Melbourne Park venue has borne witness to plenty of surprises, with ‘long shots’ & underdogs going deep to the semi finals and finals – at some massive prices.

This list should whet your appetite…

Australian Open FINALS:

(Pre-tournament Outright Winner odds in brackets)

  • 2014 – Dominika Cibulkova – Women’s Runner-Up (200/1)
  • 2014 – Stan Wawrinka – Men’s Winner (66/1)
  • 2016 – Angelique Kerber – Women’s Winner (50/1)
  • 2017 – Venus Williams – Women’s Runner-Up (100/1)
  • 2018 – Marin Cilic – Men’s Runner-Up (33/1)
  • 2020 – Sofia Kenin – Women’s Winner (50/1)
  • 2020 – Garbine Muguruza – Women’s Runner-Up (40/1)
  • 2020 – Dominic Thiem – Men’s Runner-Up (22/1)

Also, reaching the SEMI FINALS in the last three years alone:

  • 2018 – Hyeon Chung – Men’s Semi Finals (300/1)
  • 2018 – Kyle Edmund – Men’s Semi Finals (100/1)
  • 2019 – Stefanos Tsitsipas – Men’s Semi Finals (50/1)
  • 2019 – Lucas Pouille – Men’s Semi Finals (200/1)
  • 2019 – Danielle Collins – Women’s Semi Finals (500/1)

As those winners, runners-up and semi-finalists show – players reaching the business end of the tournament at big odds are a frequent occurrence at the Australian Open…

Going after outsiders & underdogs and young & improving players at attractive Each Way prices is what my Ones to Watch service is all about.

For example, from those names above, we had Kenin in last season’s Ones to Watch in 2020 report.

Back in 2018, we had Cilic at 33/1. And Tsitsipas had appeared as one of 10 players in our Ones to Watch in 2019 report, less than a month before that breakthrough semi-final run in Melbourne.

Catch up on my new player list for the 2021 season here.

Lookout for first-time winners…

Alongside that big-price history in Australia, let’s take a look at the record of first-time Major winners

A first-time winner is significant, as until a player makes that breakthrough at one of the four biggest tournaments on the calendar, you’re likely to find them at nice, chunky prices…

For example, back in 2008, a 20-year-old Serbian by the name of Novak Djokovic made his Grand Slam winning debut Down Under – as a 33/1 shot.

These days, you wouldn’t even get 33/1 on Novak flying to the moon…

Going into the Australian Open 2021, world No.1 and two-time reigning champion Djokovic is the 5/4 (2.25) favourite to take the crown, for what would be the 9th time.

Our Ones to Watch work centres on finding the next names to break through on the big stage, at the big prices…

There’s no crystal ball. But last year, in two of the three Grand Slams played in the shortened 2020 season, we managed to do very nicely. Including two massive payouts on first-time Major winners:

  • Sofia Kenin won the Australian Open at 50/1 – her first Grand Slam final & victory
  • Dominic Thiem was a 22/1 Each Way runner-up in Australia. Later in the year, he went on to win a first Grand Slam title at the US Open
  • Iga Swiatek won the French Open at 100/1 – her first Grand Slam final, and indeed first final on the Senior tour, full stop. Kenin was runner-up

The women’s game is an especially fruitful area to go hunting for first-timers and big odds:

  • The last 15 women’s Grand Slams have produced 11 different winners
  • 9 of those last 15 women were first-time Grand Slam winners

And at the Australian Open in particular…

  • Sofia Kenin (2020), Caroline Wozniacki (2018), and Angelique Kerber (2016) have all lifted a first Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne. At odds of 50/1, 10/1, and 50/1, respectively

If all that isn’t ammo for the Aussie Open over the next fortnight, then I don’t know what is…

Lookout for your Australian Open Day 1 email on Sunday at 5pm.

Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch