• Chris Sobey


Andy Murray, who withdrew from the Australian Open recently due to injury, waisted no-time in getting an operation done on his injured hip. He underwent surgery on Monday morning in Australian and his recovery time will be 4-6 months if all goes well and to plan. When he recovers he will focus on winning major tournaments rather than chasing ranking points and this will mean he will plays less tournaments and matches, which will be better for his hip and general health. I wish him a speedy recovery and the same for all the other injured players, as it makes for a more competitive and exciting competition, especially when the top players are all fit and healthy.

This week’s ATP action at Sydney and Auckland is now down to the second-round stage and at Sydney there were no major first round upsets but two seeded payers did lose, eighth seed Zverev and sixth seed Kohlschreiber, who lost against one of my outright tips and qualifier Medvedev (28/1) in straight sets. Pune winner Simon lost as predicted against American Next Generation star Donaldson and Benoit Paire continued his good run of form going from last week at Pune where he reached the semi-finals where he defeated Bedene, who switched his allegiance back to Slovenia recently so he could play in the Olympics, which is a fair enough reason given he was not cleared to play for GB in the Davis Cup or the Olympics. Dolgopolov (advised 12/1) won his opener against two-time Sydney champion Troicki. Verdasco (advised 18/1) is out of form as he lost in straights against Next Generation star Aussie De Minaur, who continued his excellent form from last week when he reached the semi-finals at Brisbane. Fifth and third seeds Mannarino and Dzumhur both won their openers and veterans Lorenzi, Lopez and Mayer are also through to the second round.

At Auckland there were no major upsets in the first round and seeded players like fifth seed Bautista Agut, sixth seed Cuevas and seventh seed Ferrer (advised 20/1) won their openers against two Wild Cards and a Lucky Loser. We lost Next Generation star Tsitsipas from Greece (advised 25/1) at the first-round stage who fell foul of the Lucky Loser curse. Next Generation stars Chung, Shapovalov and Khachanov all won their openers as did the more experienced players like Haase, Ferrer and Lacko.

By the time you read this article the scheduled second round matches that includes the top-four seeds at Sydney and Auckland will be almost complete and it will be interesting to see how the top-two seeds Ramos-Vinolas and defending champion Muller performs this week at Sydney given the overwhelming historical statistics for seeded and unseeded players that goes against them (see Sunday’s/Monday’s article). Third seed Schwartzman opened his campaign against veteran Lopez, fourth seed Fognini faces Dolgopolov. Fifth seed Mannarino faces lucky loser Berankis and I expect Berankis will win this one as he leads the head-to-head 3-2 and has the advantage of already playing three competitive matches this week compared to Mannarino’s none. Qualifier Medvedev faces fellow Next Generation star Donaldson and seventh seed Dzhumur (advised last week) was due to feature in arguably the match of the day against Aussie Next Generation star De Minaur. Finally, I expect Paire to continue his good form against veteran Mayer as he leads the head-to-head 2-1 and seems to be in decent form after his exploits last week.

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