For anyone that follows my tips for each slam, I apologise but the hustle and bustle of moving houses beat me on this rare occasion and I wasn’t able to get my preview out in time. I have put my bets at the bottom of the blog.
I think I should start by saying the whole Djokovic situation has been a farce and he seems to have been used as a pawn in all of this. Most (Fedal) will be loving the situation but it should never have got to this and I feel a little sorry for him. The process should just have been avoided. I am loving the fact Kyrgios came out and stuck up for him too. Good old Nick!
British Number One and twelfth seeded, Cameron Norrie said it was the worst match he has played in eight months after losing 6/3 6/0 6/4 to Sebastian Korda. The American tested positive for Covid when landing in Australia and has had little preparation in terms of match play but he played a really good match against Nozza. It is going to be interesting to see how Norrie does this season after a breakthrough year. The two Spaniards in the top half had much less trouble. Rafa Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz were not really tested in their straight-sets wins over Marcos Giron and Alejandro Tabilo respectively.
Alex Zverev needed two tiebreaks to beat compatriot Daniel Altmaier and he wasn’t overly impressed with his performance. That looks to be a harsh assessment of his efforts, the second serve was problematic at stages but I think these comments show that he is ready to step up now and win a major. There is a feeling that he expects perfection now against an opponent who can play very well. Aslan Karatsev has come in fresh off a title in Adelaide where he beat Evo and Muzza on the way but needed nearly five hours to get past Jaume Munar today. The Russian was a set and a break down in this one and committed 107 unforced errors against the Spaniard who kept making his opponent play. I have backed Karastev for his quarter but this could come back to haunt him and me.
There were four sets wins today for Matteo Berrettini (against Brandon Nakashima), Denis Shapovalov (against Laslo Djere) and Hubert Hurkacz (against Egor Gerasimov). Berrettini needed Immodium and MTO’s to get the better of the up and coming American and Shapovalov was lucky to get away with not going the distance against Djere, who served for sets one and four.
Top-seeded, Ash Barty got off to a flyer against Lesia Tsurenko, winning in fifty-four minutes and dropping just one game. The Aussie served well and got her forehand dominating the match. The big question is will the weight of expectation in her homeland get to her? Paula Badosa is one of the form players coming in and she beat Ajla Tomljanovic, as she did last week. The Spaniard did take a MTO and came back with strapping on her thigh, so that is a slight concern but there is no doubt that if she can keep her form up, she will go close here. She won this 6/4 6/0. Another form player is Madison Keys and she beat former champion Sofia Kenin in a tight straight sets. Keys seems to be approaching things slightly different these days and her defence was also good today. The serve naturally took care of business when it was required. The biggest name to fall on the opening day of the women was Coco Gauff. She lost to Qiang Wang who played a very complete match. Gauff said that it was disappointing from her though and admitted to being a little tight and nervous. It is still a learning curve for the 17-year-old.
Naomi Osaka beat Camila Osorio 6/3 6/3 and is looking to play herself into some form. It will have to get better than this but a solid effort was all that was needed here against an opponent who hadn’t played a competitive match for three months having also had Covid. Maria Sakkari was made to work hard against Tatjana Maria. This will come as no surprise to most against the tricky German who loves mixing up her play but when push came to shove in the tight moments Sakkari showed plenty of courage and variety of her own to get through. Barbora Krejcikova smashed up Andrea Petkovic 6/2 6/0 and should go better than her previous best effort of the second round in Melbourne. Her form has held up pretty well since winning in Paris last year.
There were also wins for Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina. Bencic beat Kristina Mladenovic and after said her energy levels have dropped since having covid recently. Svitolina raced away with the first against Fiona Ferro but in the second had to break her opponent who served for the set. Ons Jabeur has withdrawn from the event with a back injury sustained last week in Sydney. Vika Azarenka is also through without playing that well against Hungarian, Panna Udvardy and Alison Riske beat an unfit looking Donna Vekic 6/2 6/2. The American picking-up where she left off last week in Adelaide where she was runner-up.
On to day two we go.
Here are my bets for the record.
1st Quarter – Carlos Alcaraz at 3/1 (VC) and Sebastian Korda 20/1 with Hills.
2nd Quarter – Aslan Karatsev and Hubert Hurkacz are both a general 12/1 and upwards.
3rd Quarter -Taylor Fritz at 20/1 with Hills.
4th Quarter- Felix Auger-Aliassime at a general 9/1 and Dan Evans at 33/1 with Boyles.
Outright – I backed Felix Auger-Aliassime at a general 50/1(each-way), Carlos Alcaraz at 28/1 (or bigger) also general & Sebastian Korda at 200/1 (each-way) with Hills.
1st Quarter – Naomi Osaka at 3/1 with Hills.
2nd Quarter – Paula Badosa at a general 7/2 and Barbora Krejcikova at 9/2 (also general).
3rd Quarter – Anett Konatveit at 5/1 with VC and Garbine Muguruza at a general 7/2.
4th Quarter- Iga Swiatek at 9/4 or bigger (Hills/Boyles) & Ann Li at 45/1 (VC).
Outright – Paula Badosa at a general 14/1 each-way (PP have gone 25/1 after today’s first-round), Iga Swiatek at a general 11/1 & Anett Kontaveit at 14/1(also general) but there is bigger if you can get on.
I have also doubled these three ladies up with Alex Zverev on the outright at 5/2. I really like the German’s chances but haven’t studied as much as I usually do and didn’t want to go all out on the outright. It could be time for the German though.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).