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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


The third round of the men’s Australian Open commenced in the early hours of this morning and it involved all the players from the bottom half of the draw including megastars Federer and Nadal. Second seed Nadal has cruised through to this stage winning both his matches in straight sets, but he may face a stiffer test against the in-form NextGen Aussie star and twenty seventh seed De Minaur at around 9am today. Nadal won their only previous encounter last year at Wimbledon in straight sets 6-1 6-2 6-4 and Nadal will no doubt triumph again today, although the score-line maybe a bit closer on this occasion.

Third seed Federer had to bring his A game at times against a resurgent Dan Evans in their second round match that ended 7-6 7-6 6-3 and the Swiss maestro still proved he has what it takes at this level at the age of 37, by winning the most crucial points. Federer was due to face the big serving and hitting NextGen star American Taylor Fritz for the first time in the early hours of this morning. Federer usually relishes these types of matches against up and coming young stars and his superior experience, match intelligence and composure on the big points should have led to another winning outcome on this occasion.

Sixth seed Cilic had to work a lot harder than expected to see off NextGen American McDonald 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-4 in their second round encounter and life doesn’t get any easier for him today against veteran and twenty sixth seed Spaniard Verdasco, which is being played around 9am. Cilic leads the head-to-head 9-5 and he won seven of their nine previous encounters on hard courts between 2008 and 2016. I expect Cilic to win if he’s fully fit as he knows a lot more about Verdasco’s game than McDonalds, however, it is unlikely to be all plain sailing and from a betting perspective you may want to consider backing Cilic to Win & Over 35.5 Games in the match as it may take Cilic four or five sets to win this one.

NextGen star and fourteenth seed Tsitsipas faced nineteenth seed Basilashvili in the early hours of this morning for the first time and the young Greek star should be through to fourth round by the time you read this article. Tenth seed Khachanov was due to face twenty second seed Bautista Agut in the early hours of this morning and with both players in-form it’s a tough result to call. Eighteenth seed Schwartzman was due to face the unseeded veteran and former top-ten star Berdych for the first time in the early hours of this morning in a potential David and Goliath match.

Twentieth seed Dimitrov will have needed to be at his best and sharpest in the early hours of this morning against the unseeded and dangerous giant killer Italian Fabbiano and the only match between two unseeded players this morning NextGen American star Tiafoe and veteran Italian Seppi had the potential to be a five set epic as both players have been in great form so far this week.

The top half of the draw will complete their third round matches tomorrow morning and top-seed and six time Australian Open champion Djokovic faces Canadian NextGen star and twenty fifth seed Shapovalov for the first time. Fourth seed Alexander Zverev made life difficult for himself again at Grand Slam level, this time by letting a two sets to love lead slip against veteran Chardy, who valiantly fought back to take the match to a deciding fifth set, which Zverev won 6-1. Zverev faces Aussie Wild Card and giant killer Bolt who knocked out veteran and twenty ninth seed Simon in five sets in the second round and the young German can’t afford to let his level drop and give Bolt any momentum at any stage in this match. Otherwise he could easily be making another early Grand Slam exit again.

Eighth seed Nishikori has made hard work of reaching the third round taking five sets to win his first and second round matches and life won’t get any easier for the Japanese star tomorrow against the unseeded but talented Sousa from Portugal, who impressed winning both of his matches this week in five sets. Eleventh seed Coric (advised 13/2 to win Second Quarter) will hopefully continue his straight sets winning form this time against the unseeded Serbian Krajinovic while it might be the end of the line for twelfth seed Fognini against twenty third seed Carreno-Busta as the young Spaniard leads the head-to-head 5-0.

I fancy fifteenth seed Medvedev chances of ending twenty first seed Goffins run and the match between sixteenth seed Canadian Raonic and the unseeded Frenchman Herbert is likely to go the way of Raonic, but it may take a long while and include three or more tiebreaks as both players have proved difficult to break so far this week. Finally, twenty eighth seed Pouille may have his work cut out to beat new Aussie NextGen sensation and Wild Card Popyrin, as the young Aussie has been in scintillating form so far this week.

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