Tennis Betting Advice - February 2021
Australian Open: Day 6 - all-out attack at 50/1...
Friday 12th February 2021
In your Ones to Watch email today:
Welcome to Day 6 of your Ones to Watch Australian Open daily service…
After the way 2020 panned out, I thought I was done with using the word unprecedented for a while. But no, the pandemic continues to throw strange and new situations at us…
A new five-day lockdown in Victoria means fans won’t be at the Australian Open in Melbourne for the next few days. All being well, the crowds will be allowed back in time for the semi finals and finals at the end of next week.
The new ruling came into effect at midnight, creating a bizarre situation where spectators had to leave during the final match of the evening, which was Novak Djokovic’s five-set win over Taylor Fritz. Play was briefly suspended while the fans were ushered out of the venue. I’ve never seen that before.
One thing we have seen before, is Djokovic looking grumpy, having medical timeouts, but still somehow getting over the line to win…
At two sets to one ahead in that match v Fritz, the world no.1 was trading at over 4/1 (5.0) on Betfair - such was the belief among the market that Novak wouldn’t make it through. His price to win that match drifted way above his pre-tournament price, to win all seven matches and take the trophy.
The reigning champion survives - for now. How fit is he? We’ll have to wait and find out over the weekend. The men’s Outright Winner market may be ripe for another look, with that story unfolding. The bookies have already taken a scythe to the prices, though, with a name like Alexander Zverev now 10/1, from 20/1 a couple of days ago.
Milos Raonic is Djokovic’s next opponent. I wouldn’t rush into any wild bets, but it could well be the case that the underdogs now have a better chance to get through Novak’s side of the draw. We’ll monitor the situation, and prices.
On the hunt for a Big One...
We head towards week two of the Australian Open with two players left standing for us in the Outright Winner markets. Not ideal, I admit. But this is a long-term game, and especially at the prices I go for with my Ones to Watch picks…
The players we have in the book are Elise Mertens at 33/1 in the women’s event, and Alex De Minaur at 80/1 - 50/1 in the men’s. With Nick Kyrgios knocked out in a five-set classic by Dominic Thiem this morning, De Minaur is now the main man for Aussie hopes.
In the women’s tournament, world no.1 Ashleigh Barty is the Australian flag-bearer. When backing Mertens in this section of the draw, we discussed the pressure on the 24-year-old’s shoulders here at her home ‘Slam. Now we also have to ask, how fit is Barty?
The Australian star played with a lot of strapping on her left thigh in the last round, and was a tad fortunate not to drop the second set v Daria Gavrilova. It wasn’t the cleanest of performances.
Barty has since withdrawn from the Doubles, which casts further doubt on her injury status. Ash says she’s fine. And it wouldn’t be the first time a player has dodged the Doubles in order to focus on the Singles trophy.
The Barty situation certainly increases the belief, as we’ve stated throughout week one, that this top half of the women’s draw is the best source of producing a ‘long-shot’ finalist at the Australian Open 2021…
Targeting the top half...
Barty faces the hard-court specialist Ekaterina Alexandrova on Day 6 (8am Saturday, UK time). The Russian has the ability to cause problems for the world no.1 here, but the question mark is whether she has the mental fortitude to knock out the big name.
Nevertheless, that’s a tough opponent for Barty. And after that, a quarter final against Anett Kontaveit or Shelby Rogers would be tricky, too. I can’t split Kontaveit and Rogers tonight. Both are dangerous, if they could just tweak the consistency controls enough to hold their best form for a whole Grand Slam fortnight.
By the time those matches begin, we’ll know whether or not our pick Mertens will be through to the Last 16. The Belgian is priced as a 3/10 (1.3) favourite to beat Belinda Bencic. That’s a tough but winnable match. Elise is on a six-match winning streak this Melbourne summer, and looks up for the fight.
That action all takes place in the 1st Quarter of the women’s draw. In the 2nd Quarter, which will ultimately complete the semi-final line-up from this half of the tournament, I also want to make sure I’m on a player or two with underdog credentials…
All-out attack at 50/1 and 100/1...
Jennifer Brady (16/1) and Elina Svitolina (18/1) are the market favourites in the 2nd Quarter. Neither have made a Grand Slam final before, but both have looked good here so far.
Brady is a big favourite to beat youngster Kaja Juvan in the 3rd round tonight. While Svitolina is similarly short prices to beat the fiery Yulia Putintseva, for what would be the sixth time in a row (5-2 career head-to-head).
If we’re going to see a first-time Grand Slam finalist or winner, then I want a bigger price than 16/1 or 18/1. That’s just how I am. I’m not put off by the big prices for other names searching to make the Major breakthrough. Actually, I’m encouraged…
Kaia Kanepi at 50/1 is one I like. Her power and ability has never been in question. It’s always been injuries that have stopped the Estonian from really cracking the big-time. She’s been looking very good indeed so far this year, though. Winning six out seven matches this Melbourne summer, only beaten by Mertens in last week’s Gippsland Trophy final.
As well as current form, another strong point in the 35-year-old’s armour for me is her mental strength. Her two-strike, win-or-bust shot-making requires confidence and conviction to carry off. And as with Aryna Sabalenka, when she gets on a roll, she’s a very hard train to stop.
With age and experience on her side, Kanepi has the feel of a player who knows she won’t get many more chances at landing a Grand Slam - and that’s a huge desire that can really produce some special results…
For example, within the last 10 years, the women’s game has seen Marion Bartoli (Wimbledon 2013 @ 100/1) and Flavia Pennetta (US Open 2015 @ 200/1) both lift a maiden Grand Slam title late in their careers - and then retire from the sport soon after.
Kanepi’s draw looks worth backing her in, too. Donna Vekic is more likely to wilt under Kanepi’s barrage of shots tonight, and the weight of the occasion, than she is to dig in and pull off something career-changing. That’s my honest assessment of Vekic.
After that, Kanepi has the power to stay with Brady. And at much bigger odds than the American, Kaia gets the nod from me.
Last but not least, I’m not going to turn down another 100/1 invitation. Jessica Pegula featured in yesterday’s analysis, as one of the names making their way up the ladder in American women’s tennis. The 26-year-old was a 100/1 pick for me in New York last year, reaching the Western & Southern Open quarter finals.
Jessica faces Kristina Mladenovic tonight. She beat the Frenchwoman 2-0 here in Melbourne in the Yarra Valley Classic event at the start of the month. Pegula has been firing well with her big shots so far, also beating former Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Sam Stosur in straight sets.
Last summer, Pegula beat the likes of Brady and Sabalenka on hard courts. She has the game to spring a surprise. No-one seems to be talking about her. That’s okay with me. I think she has a few big performances in her, and she plays like she believes it, too.
Sticking with the aggressive approach for the players with attacking playing styles, I’m also taking both Kanepi and Pegula to win 2-0 tonight, in the Set Betting market.
Ones to Watch:
Women’s Outright Winner – Each Way:
Each Way terms: 1/2 odds 1-2 places.
Play starts at Midnight.
I’ll be back at 5pm Saturday with your Day 7 email and analysis.
If you have any questions or want to drop me a line during the tournament, I’m on hand via email. You can message me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the tennis…