The clash between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kei Nishikori looks to be one to savour with both men playing well so far in Melbourne. There usually isn’t much to choose between them when they meet and this can go the distance. I have a slight preference for the Frenchman but 2-1 or bigger about a five-setter looks good to me.
Later tonight, I would give Roberto Bautista Agut a chance against Tomas Berdych who looked in fine fettle against Nick Kyrgios. The Czech’s problem has been consistency, however, and he comes up against an opponent who has often given him trouble in the past. Like Feliciano Lopez, Bautista Agut is a Spaniard who performs better on quicker courts. He has quite a following in Australia, which always helps and I think 3-1 is a huge price.
Monday is D-Day in terms of our bets on Milos Raonic to go far in this tournament as he faces 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss has a 4-0 record over Raonic but all is not lost as our man is back to his best this year and looks to finally be showing he is more than just a serve.
That serve is going to be crucial and in three of their four meetings, the first set has gone to a tiebreak. Most of the bookies have this priced up accordingly but one - ironically the tournament’s official bookmaking partner - was offering very generous odds. They have cut them slightly but they are still on the large side. You know the drill by now - play both to win the first set 7-6 and hope for the best.
The stats are then against us with Wawrinka winning all five of their previous tiebreaks but Raonic is playing as well as I’ve seen him and I do fancy his chances. Given my bets on Raonic to win his quarter and reach the final, I don’t need to back him here but I certainly wouldn’t put you off.
I will be betting on Williams to deal with Margarita Gasparyan fairly quickly. The world number one has been at her ruthless best in her last two matches and Gasparyan should not have the power to trouble her. We will play Williams to win the first set 6-0 and 6-1 and, while I won’t advise it here, it might be worth seeing how things go before doing the same in the second set.
Before that, I am going to back Belinda Bencic to spring a surprise against Maria Sharapova. The Russian was taken to three sets by Lauren Davis who, like Bencic, gets plenty of balls back. The difference here is Bencic hits more winners and her all-round game can give Sharapova a real headache.
Finally, Shual Zhang is a bet against Madison Keys on Monday. The Chinese has played some blistering tennis so far and a 2-2 head-to-head record means 7-4 is a more than fair price. Belinda Bencic to beat Maria Sharapova - 2pts at 43-19 with Marathonbet Serena Williams to win first set 6-0 against Margarita Gasparyan - 2pts at 10-1 with Skybet Williams to win first set 6-1 against Gasparyan - 2.5pts at 4-1 with Coral, Paddy Power Shuai Zhang to beat Madison Keys - 2pts at 24-13 with 888sport, Unibet