2018 Australian Open – First Round Matches

Australian Open 2018

January 15 – 29

Matthew Ebden v John Isner

Isner warmed up for this fortnight by playing in Auckland last week but it was a brief stay as he was beaten in his opening match. That’s hardly ideal preparation for the 16th seed who is a two-time former champion in New Zealand. He’s rarely made much of an impression in Melbourne, and that’s true across all the Slams as the best-of-five format has proven tough for him to crack. He’s failed to reach the quarter-finals in his last 23 Grand Slams and has made the Last 16 just four times in that spell.

With a style that makes marathon matches inevitable, he broke serve just once in more than four hours during his second round exit here a year ago, that’s perhaps understandable. It also makes him more susceptible to upsets while limiting his chance of upsetting the better players, as he’s done throughout his career in smaller events. In fact his last five Slam exits have come against players who had an average price of greater than 2/1.

Ebden will surely fancy his chances then of causing a shock with the home fans spurring him on. He won two Challenger titles in November so has plenty of wins recently and should be more match sharp after a shorter off-season than his opponent. He’s played three seeds here since 2012 and while he’s yet to beat one he did win the opening set each time. Having improved his ranking by more than 600 places in the last 12 months the Aussie looks to be on an upward curve and we fancy him to take the next step and send the American packing.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Matthew Ebden Win at 4.55


David Ferrer v Andrey Rublev

Rublev is one of the most talented youngsters on Tour at just 20 and already being seeded at a Slam. He finished last season in good form as he reached the final of the ATP Next Gen tournament for the best young players and started off 2018 with a run to the final in Doha. A year ago he was ranked outside the top 150 but he lifted his maiden ATP title in July before a sensational run at the US Open, where he beat Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin in straight sets on his way to the quarter-finals.

Ferrer is more than 15 years older than his opponent and his grinding style is no longer as effective as it was a few years back. He’s not made it past the third round in any of the last six Slams while his first round defeat in the US Open was the first time he’d lost at the first hurdle since Wimbledon 2005 and was a clear sign of a player in decline. Away from his preferred clay Ferrer has lost 11 of 14 matches since 2017 against players currently ranked 11-50 and we see the Russian as the clear favourite here.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Andrey Rublev Win at 2.05

Thanasi Kokkinakis v Daniil Medvedev

Big things are expected of this pair of 21 year olds but it was Medvedev who held the edge in 2017 as he won both their meetings in straight sets. The Russian has started 2018 in superb fashion as he’s reached the final in Sydney. Going back to the start of 2017 Medvedev has won 19 of 27 completed matches when starting priced at 1.5-2.5, as he’s consistently won matches that on paper were hard to split.

This is another such affair but we feel Kokkinakis is being overrated. He did beat an out of sorts Alexander Zverez at the Hopman Cup a week ago in what was his first event since August but that lack of matches suggests he’ll be inconsistent. With his injury record a best of five set match against a focused opponent is likely to prove a sterner test of his current level. He missed the whole of 2016 but he’s now lost in the first round at each of his last five Grand Slam appearances. Medvedev was too good for him last season and we suspect that will be the case once again.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Daniil Medvedev Win at 2.11


Kristina Mladenovic v Ana Bogdan

Mladenovic arrived at last year’s French Open as a genuine title contender and made a respectable run to the quarters. However, since then her form has gone from bad to worse and her position as the 11th seed is more of an indictment of the unpredictability currently around the top of the women’s game than a reflection of her chances this fortnight. She’s now lost 14 matches in a row as her last win was more than five months ago and she was most recently seen retiring to the number 341 in the world in Sydney when on the verge of another loss.

That retirement was the result of heat stress rather than injury so she should be fine here but there were a further eight defeats to players outside the top 50 in that losing streak. Furthermore, despite her climb up the rankings she’s still lost in the first round at half the last six Slams, with a further two second round losses as she’s often struggled early on.

Bogdan is just outside the top 100 but can at least boast a win in 2018, having beaten Sydney semi-finalist Camila Giorgi in Shenzhen. Furthermore, she’s won two of her last three matches against the current top 25 and has been steadily climbing the rankings over the last few years. On current form she should prove far too steady.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Ana Bogdan Win at 2.08

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