• Chris Sobey


The first round of the Australian Open drew to a close yesterday and their were only a few upsets from the men’s draw, which were ninth seed Isner losing against compatriot and fellow giant 6ft 11” Opelka in four sets 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-6, thirteenth seed Edmunds lost in straight sets against veteran and former top-10 star Berdych and finally seventeenth seed Checcinato lost in five sets after being two sets to love up against Serb Krajinovic.

It was business as usual for the big three of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer who all won their first round matches in straight sets. Apart from ninth seed Isner the remaining top ten seeds all made it through to the second round, but only fourth seed Zverev and sixth seed Cilic managed to join the big three and win in straight sets. Seventh seed Thiem and eighth seed Nishikori both nearly lost from two sets to love up against Paire and Polish qualifier Majchrzak respectively, but they fortunately both managed to rally in the fifth set to make the second round.

Fifth seed Anderson and tenth seed Khachanov both had to rally to win in four sets against the unseeded Mannarino and Gojowczyk, who are both experienced and proven performers on the ATP Tour. Outside the top ten there were impressive wins for eleventh seed Coric, fifteenth seed Medvedev and sixteenth seed Raonic who all won in straight sets against the unseeded veteran Darcis from Belgium, qualifier Harris from South Africa and the unseeded Aussie Kyrgios respectively.

The remaining top twenty seeds who progressed to the second round were eighteenth seed Schwartzman, nineteenth seed Basilashvili and twentieth seed Dimitrov who all won in four sets against German qualifier Molleker, American qualifier Eubanks and unseeded veteran Tipsarevic respecitvely. Other seeds to make the second round were twenty first seed Goffin, who thrashed the unseeded Chilean Garin 6-0 6-2 6-2, twenty second seed Bautista Agut who beat Murray in five sets and twenty third seed Carreno-Busta nearly blew a two-sets to love lead against Italian qualifier Vani, but rallied in the fifth to avoid a first round upset.

Twenty fifth seed Shapovalov won in straight sets against the unseeded Spanish veteran Andujar, twenty sixth, twenty seventh and twenty eighth seeds Verdasco, De Minaur and Pouille all progressed to the second round in straight sets knocking out Serbian qualifier Kecmanovic, Portuguese journeyman Pedro Sousa and veteran Kukushkin from Kazakhstan respectively. French veterans twenty ninth and thirtieth seeds Simon and Monfils both made light work of their respective first round opponents winning in straight sets as did thirty second seed veteran Kohlschreiber from Germany.

Looking ahead to the second round top seed Djokovic faces a potential banana skin in French veteran Tsonga, but he should edge it as he leads the head-to-head 16-6 and has only lost one of the last thirteen encounters between 2012 and 2016, which came at the Canadian Masters back in 2014. Second seed Nadal faces Aussie veteran Ebden for only the second time and Nadal can’t afford to underestimate him as Ebden is very experienced and will no doubt put everything on the line in front of a passionate home crowd. Third seed and defending champion Federer faces qualifier Dan Evans from the UK for only the second time and while Evans will no doubt push Federer in to some crowd pleasing competitive rallies, it’s unlikely the Swiss great will be bowing out of the competition at this stage.

Fourth seed Zverev may potentially face his first serious test this fortnight against French veteran Chardy. They’ve met three times previously between 2016 and 2017 and their first two encounters were very close three set matches on indoor hard courts, Chardy won the first in 2016 and Zverev the other in 2017, but the young German should still progress as Chardy struggled to win his opener in five sets against compatriot Umbert, which will no doubt come back to haunt him physically in this match.

Fifth and sixth seeds Anderson and Cilic should both progress to the third round against American NextGen stars Tiafoe and McDonald respectively, but neither can afford to be complacent as Tiafoe and McDonald are more than capable of taking advantage of any weaknesses or complacency from their more illustrious higher ranked opponents. Seventh seed Thiem and eighth seed Nishikori could both be vulnerable against Aussie Wild Card Popyrin and Croatian veteran and giant Karlovic respectively, especially after the two top ten stars were both pushed to five sets in the first round.

Other Seeds who should progress to the third round are eleventh seed Coric against the unseeded Hungarian Fucsovics, fourteenth seed Tsitsipas against qualifier Troicki, fifteenth seed Medvedev against the unseeded American Harrison, nineteenth seed Basilashvili from Georgia against Italian qualifier Travaglia, twentieth seed Dimitrov against veteran Uruguayan Cuevas, twenty fifth seed and NextGen star Shapovalov against Japan’s unseeded Daniel, twenty sixth seed and Spanish veteran Verdasco against Albot from Moldovia, Twenty seventh seed De Minaur against Swiss veteran and qualifier Laaksonen, twenty eighth seed Pouille from France against the unseeded German Marterer and twenty ninth seed French veteran Simon against Aussie Wild Card Bolt.

Other seeds who may lose and/or struggle to win in their respective second round matches are seventh seed Thiem against Aussie Wild Card and NextGen star Popyrin, eighth seed Nishikori against the unseeded veteran Karlovic, tenth seed Khachanov against the unseeded Nishioka from Japan, twelfth seed Fognini against unseeded veteran Mayer from Argentina, twenty third seed Carreno-Busta from Spain against the unseeded Ivashka from Belarus and twenty fourth seed Chung against the unseeded Herbert from France,

Finally, I came close to predicting two of this week’s three match bets when the treble of Chardy, Raonic and Copil landed at 4.76/1 (Marathonbet) but sadly the single on Klahn to beat Chung at 9/4 lost as Klahn blew a two-sets to love lead. To be honest I’m just relieved to get a winner with the treble after a disappointing start to the 2019 season where all the tournament and match selections had lost. I’m going to keep my powder dry now and let the outright tournament selections run their course and hopefully one or more will return a profit and help minimise the losses incurred so far this season, or ideally cover the losses and put the overall position in to profit.



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