2018 Australian Open – Third Round Matches

Australian Open 2018

January 15 – 29

Angelique Kerber v Maria Sharapova

The only two multiple major champions left in the women’s draw meet here and while Sharapova edges the head-to-head 4-3 it’s Kerber who won their last two meetings, in 2014 and 2015, before Sharapova was hit by her ban. Sharapova has made a steady improvement since returning to the Tour but she’s lost four of seven against current top 25 ranked players as she’s played few matches against the very best.

On current form Kerber has to be classed in that bracket. After a woeful 2017, which she started as the number one in the world and holder of two of the four majors, she’s bounced back at the start of this year. She’s won 11 matches in a row and has dropped just nine games in her opening two rounds here as she’s looked close to her best.

Sharapova’s backhand tends to be far more reliable than her forehand, which usually suits her playing left-handers. However, Kerber possesses a great forehand down the line and is one of the best at getting her opponents on the run, which has never been Sharapova’s strength, so this looks a poor match-up for the Russian right now and we feel Kerber should be nearer the 1.5-1.6 mark.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Kerber Win at 1.8

 

Aliaksandra Sasnovich v Caroline Garcia

Sasnovich did the business for us in the last round as she comfortably dispatched the veteran Lucic-Baroni. That lifts her provisional ranking up to 46th and after her run to the Brisbane final – only losing to the overall favourite here Elina Svitolina – she’s won 10 of her last 11 matches. Furthermore, that run included three wins over current top 25 players, even if Sloane Stephens and Kristina Mladenovic are in terrible form right now.

Garcia’s hardly looking imperious either though and she twice had to serve to stay in the match in the last round. After finishing 2017 in the form of her life she started 2018 by retiring in Brisbane with a back injury so she’ll hope that her marathon second round in the blistering heat hasn’t caused any further problems. Garcia has a great recent record against players of a similar ranking to Sasnovich as she’s won eight of nine against players currently ranked 11-50 since the US Open. However, go back to the start of last season and her record against these players deteriorates to just W12-L11 and given she’s never been a particularly consistent player she could easily revert to nearer the 50% strike rate.

After a couple of months off Garcia doesn’t have the same momentum as she finished 2017 with while Sasnovich is full of confidence and we fancy her to pull off a shock.

Betting Strategy

BACK -Sasnovich Win at 3.3

Jelena Ostapenko v Anett Kontaveit

Ostapenko struggled at times in her second round win but the Roland Garros champion made it through and having lost her opening matches in Sydney and Shenzhen prior to this she should improve as she progresses. She’s undeniably a big-game player and has now won 10 of her last 11 Grand Slam matches when the favourite.

Kontaveit won the previous meeting between these two but neither was in the top 100 back in 2015 and it is her Latvian opponent who has made the greater strides since. Kontaveit dropped a set in the last round but that was against an opponent in Mona Barthel who had lost 10 of her previous 12 matches, so she’ll certainly need to improve here. Kontaveit also has a losing record over the last few months as she’s lost 11 of her last 16 matches, including six defeats to players outside the top 80 since September.

Moreover, she’s lost 16 of 20 matches against the current top 25 since 2016, including all nine on hard courts. Prior to this week she’d lost in the opening round of six of her last eight Slams and this looks likely to be the end of her road.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Ostapenko Win at 1.76

 

Andreas Seppi v Ivo Karlovic

Karlovic survived a marathon in the last round, coming through 12-10 in the decider, but at almost 39 years old and coming back from an ankle injury it could be hard for him to reach the same level again. To make matters worse it’s set to be a scorching day, with the mercury forecast to hit 40 degrees. This will be Karlovic’s 15th third round at a Slam, the first coming back in 2003, but his record is just W2-L6 on hard courts in that sample.

Seppi won a Challenger in Canberra last week and is now on a seven match winning streak. Having taken a shortened off-season as he played Challenger tournaments until mid-November he’s clearly started 2018 fully match fit. In fact this has been his most successful Slam in four of the past five years as he’s reached the Last 16 three times and he clearly likes playing in January. He lacks the major weapons to threaten the best players but has had a pretty successful career based on being very consistent and he’s won his last 15 Grand Slam matches when the favourite.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Andreas Seppi Win at 1.72


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