The Australian Open is now well underway and all of the first round matches have now been completed. There was only one major upset in the men’s draw as 16th seed Pouille crashed out against Russian qualifier Bublik. As is usually the case, the women’s draw witnessed more upsets with fourth seed Halep crashing out in the first round for the second year in a row. Vinci seeded 15, Stosur seeded 18 and Bertens seeded 19 also lost their first round matches and there were three other seeds outside the top 20 who lost in the first round, Siegemund, Babos and Kasatkina.
All the players who progressed to the second round will be relieved to see that the extremely high temperatures they experienced on Monday and Tuesday have eased, and temperatures are now expected to remain in the mid-twenties for the remainder of the tournament. By the time you read this article the fate of some of the top men’s and women’s seeds that played this morning will be known and it would be no surprise if sixth seed Cilic was pushed close or even beaten by Britain’s Dan Evans.
Top seed Andy Murray plays in one of the two featured night matches around 9am GMT against talented Russian qualifier Rublev. Rublev is still only 19 years old and will no doubt have broken in to the top 100 before his 20th Birthday in October. However, it’s safe to say he won’t be celebrating the biggest win of his career later this morning.
Fifth seed Wawrinka (advised 16/1) was given a major scare in the first round against the talented Klizan and he was due to face another talented opponent in Johnson this morning. While I expect Johnson to make life tough for Wawrinka, I’ll be surprised if the Swiss number one does not come through this one in a more comfortable fashion.
Home hope Nick Kyrgios (seeded 14) faces veteran Seppi and should progress in fairly straight forward fashion as Seppi’s best days seem past him now while 17th seed Federer faces 20 year old American qualifier Rubin. It will be a great learning experience for the youngster and I expect he will give a good account of himself and Federer a decent work out but I’ll be surprised if he records the biggest win of his career on this occasion.
If Federer does progress he will face either tenth seed Berdych or the unseeded Harrison in the third round and, if he faces Berdych, I’ll be opposing Federer at this early stage of his comeback. The remaining seeds like Tsonga (seeded 12), Isner (19), Sock (23), Troicki (29) and Querrery (31) should have all progressed to the third round by the time you read this article.
Yesterday the bottom half of the men’s draw completed their first round matches and second seed and defending champion Djokovic looked in superb condition and form, which is an ominous sign for anyone who has opposed him. He breezed past Verdasco in straight sets, faces Istomin next, against whom he’s never lost, then either 30th seed Carreno-Busta or Britian’s Kyle Edmunds in the third round. I think Djokovic will face Edmunds in the third round as Carreno-Busta looked out of sorts yesterday taking five sets to beat Polansky who is ranked 132 in the world.
Third seed Raonic looked in good form against Brown winning in straight sets, as did sixth seed Monfils who thrashed Vesely in straight sets. Ninth seed Nadal was his bullish, brutish self against Mayer who he ground down to win in straight sets. Eighth seed Thiem had to come from a set down to beat the dangerous Struff in four sets, 11th seed Goffin survived a scare against 19 year old American qualifier Opelka just scraping through in five sets and 15th seed Dimitrov (advised 66/1) proved too good for the impressive young Australian Wild Card O’Connell in straight sets.
The likes of Bautista Agut (seeded 13), Gasquet (18), Ferrer (21) and Simon (25) all won in straight sets and in very easy fashion against Pella, Mott, Australian Wild Card Jasika and young American Wild Card Mmoh respectively. Life was not as easy for the likes of Zverev (24) who survived a scare against Haase coming from 2 sets to 1 down and veteran 20th seed Karlovic, who fired down an astonishing 75 aces in his first round match against Zeballos, which lasted 5 hour and 22 minutes with Karlovic won 22-20 in the fifth set.
The top two seeds of the women’s draw world number one and defending champion Kerber (advised 9/2) and world number two and six time champion Serena Williams are both through to the second round and by the time you read this article Kerber should be through to the third round. Other seeds playing this morning were seventh seed Muguruza, eighth seed Kuznetsova, tenth seed Suarez Navarro, 11th seed Svitolina (beat Boserup in straight sets) and 13th seed Venus Williams (beat Voegele in straight sets).
Looking at tomorrow morning’s matches there are a few men’s match bets and trades I like that should return a profit. Kohlschreiber (1.3) had to work hard in his first round match and faces a potentially tough encounter against Young tomorrow and the American lefty is more than capable of pushing him close or beating him. Goffin (1.3) came close to losing against 19 year old Opelka yesterday, who is ranked outside the top 200. He faces another potentially tough encounter against wily veteran Stepanek tomorrow and is worth opposing at short odds.
Kyle Edmund (1.8) looks like a good thing against Carreno-Busta, who looked out of sorts when nearly losing against Polansky yesterday. Baghdatis (11/8) has won a set in five of his last seven matches, and four from six on hard courts, against Nadal and looks like decent value to do this again tomorrow.