Tennis - Australian Open Update
Arguably the biggest upset in Grand Slam history occurred yesterday when topseed and favourite Andy Murray, whose opening odds for the match were 1.02, was knocked out by the unseeded Mischa Zverev 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4. Zverev was featuring in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time and his unorthodox attacking serve and volley style of play really disrupted Murray’s rhythm. The match was very scrappy throughout with plenty of service breaks, especially in the first two sets, and Murray will be furious with himself for not closing the first set out when he was 5-3 up.
Zverev really stepped up his game in the third and fourth sets and totally outplayed a baffled Murray, who was not able to overcome the German’s relentless attacking and serve and volley game. Murray will be devastated at his early exit and he may not get a better chance to win that elusive first Australian Open as Djokovic is surely going to rediscover his zest for the game and win more Grand Slams before he retires while the wealth of young talent coming through is going to make it even harder for Murray to win more Grand Slams.
This year’s tournament will be the first time the top-seed has not reached the final since 2008 and only the second time the top seed has not won the tournament over the last decade. Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka (advised 16/1) is now the joint tournament favourite at 7/2 after beating Seppi 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in his fourth round clash yesterday and he will now face 12th seed Tsonga in tomorrow’s quarter-finals after the Frenchman beat Britain's Dan Evans in four sets yesterday. Wawrinka leads the head-to-head 4-3, six of their seven meetings have been on clay and three came at the French Open, of which Wawrinka has won two.
Wawrinka is the favourite to progress to the semi-finals, however, judging by their previous encounters this is going to be close and it has all the hallmarks of a five setter, which Wawrinka will hopefully win. If you have backed Wawrinka as advised I would consider hedging your bets by either laying your stake back or by backing Tsonga to cover your outright stake. The winner of this encounter will play either Zverev or new joint tournament favourite Federer, who is ominously looking more and more like a serious challenger for this year’s title after knocking out two top 10 players en route to the quarter-finals, including fifth seed Nishikori yesterday in a five-set thriller.
My other outright selection Dimitrov (advised 66/1) may still be playing his fourth round match against Istomin by the time you read this article and, hopefully, he will have either won or will be in a winning position. At the time of writing this article, Dimitrov’s price had contracted to 8/1 following Murray’s defeat. If you’ve backed him you could cover your outright stake or hedge a nice profit by laying him on the exchanges. My one remaining Men’s Draw selection Raonic (5/2) to Win the Third Quarter was still in with a chance of returning a profit and, by the time you read this article, he will hopefully be well on his way to winning his fourth round match against Bautista Agut.
One of my outright selections for the women’s draw Kerber (9/2) lost in disappointing fashion yesterday morning against the up and coming American star Vandeweghe 6-2 6-3. Kerber is likely to lose the number one ranking having not defended the title and ranking points, and it could be Serena who capitalises if she wins a record seventh title or even if she loses in the final this week.
Serena is now the clear favourite to win the title at 13/8, followed by my remaining outright selection Pliskova (9/1), who is now a best priced 4/1 and she will hopefully be well on her way to beating Gavrilova by the time you are reading this article. Britain’s Jo Konta is now third favourite and a best priced 6/1 after starting the year at 40/1 ante post and by the time you are reading this article she will hopefully be well on the way to winning her fourth round match against Makarova.