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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


At the time of writing this week’s ATP Tour tennis action at Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia was down to the semi-finals stage and these matches should be completed by the time you are reading this article. At Auckland the trend of a seeded player winning the title over the last decade did not continue as all four semi-finalists are unseeded, including Wild Card and British number two Cam Norrie who was due to face Struff from Germany for a place in tomorrows final. The other semi-final was between Sandgren from the USA and veteran Kohlschreiber from Germany.

At Sydney the trend over the last decade of unseeded players winning the title won’t be repeated this year as all four semi-finalists are seeded. The unseeded Millman (advised 51/2) looked like he would be the only unseeded player in the semi-finals when he served for the match against fourth seed Simon but the Aussie was broken straight back and lost the subsequent tiebreak 7-2. The semi-finals were played in the early hours of this morning and fourth seed Simon was due to face fifth seed Aussie and NextGen star De Minaur and third seed Schwartzman from Argentina was due to face veteran eighth seed Seppi from Italy for a place in tomorrow’s final.

Australian Open Men’s Preview 2019

As you will probably already be aware the first Grand Slam of the 2019 season the Australian Open commences in the early hours of Monday morning and the draws were completed in the early hours of Thursday morning. Number one seed Djokovic is the clear favourite to win a record seventh title and if he achieves this historic feat it would take his overall Slam tally to fifteen. He will also take heart from the fact he has avoided both second seed Nadal and third seed Federer in the draw and on paper his biggest threat may come from either fourth seed Zverev, eighth seed and Brisbane winner Nishikori, eleventh seed Coric, fifteenth seed and Brisbane finalist Medvedev or sixteenth seed Raonic.

Defending champion and third seed Federer will aim to win a third straight title this year and like Djokovic he’s also going for a record seventh title and a record twenty first Slam title in total. Federer is the second favourite while second seed Nadal is the third favourite and the Spaniard will be hoping injury does not thwart his chances of competing for this year’s title after having to withdraw injured at the quarter final stage against Cilic last year. In terms of the statistics of past winners over the last decade, history is still on the big three’s side as Djokovic (5), Federer (3) and Nadal (1) won nine of the last ten titles and the only player so far to upset this trend was Wawrinka back in 2014.

The top seed has won seven of the last ten titles (last Djokovic 2016) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (Nadal 2014), which bodes well for Djokovic’s chances this year. The second seed has not performed as well over the last decade winning only one title during this period (Federer 2018), but they did reach four finals during this period (last Murray 2016). Seeded players in general have a very strong record over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than seventeen won the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than nine was a losing finalist in all ten finals during this period. Unseeded players have a very poor record over the last decade having never won the title or reached the final during this period.

Fourth seed Zverev will be aiming to break his Slam duck this year again but given his record so far at Slam level and with Djokovic in his half of the draw it is hard to back him with any real confidence. Fifth seed veteran Kevin Anderson (Fourth Quarter Winner 11/2) from South Africa will also be aiming to land a first Slam title and with significant improvement at this level in recent years he must be respected and taken seriously as a challenger, but he’ll have to do it the hard way again as he resides in the bottom half of the draw along with Nadal, Federer, Cilic, Isner and Tsitsipas. Sixth seed and 2018 finalist Cilic (33/1) must be respected again this year based on his improved record at Slam level in recent years, but like Anderson he’ll have to be at his best as Nadal, Federer, Anderson, Isner and Tsitsipas are all in his half of the draw.

If you tune in on Sunday, I’ll also provide my thoughts on the first round matches and I will also provide some selections, which will hopefully begin to make up for the losing tennis selections so far this year.

Selections:

Australian Open Outright

Djokovic Win (5/4)

Cilic Win (33/1)

Second Quarter Winner

Coric Win (13/2)

Fourth Quarter Winner

Anderson Win (11/2)


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