CoCo Vandeweghe is the WTA’s version of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Her on-court demeanour and blistering serve is in stark contrast to the self-deprecating 25-year-old that greeted the media late last night. That was after she’d made a mockery of the rankings and wiped the court with world No.1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber, storming into the quarter-finals 6-2, 6-3. Kerber’s shock loss comes on the same day that men’s top seed Andy Murray was also sent packing, beaten by unheralded German Mischa Zverev.
It’s the first time in Australian Open history that both no.1s have failed to reach the quarter-finals. Five of the past seven newly installed world no. 1 female players have been dumped from their first major as top seed earlier than the quarter-finals. Earlier, Mischa Zverev (older brother of Alexander, who pushed Rafael Nadal to the wire in the third round) prevailed over Murray after three and a half hours to win 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4. Heading into week 2 of the tournament, Serena Williams heads the market for the women’s title at $2.50 while Roger Federer leads a very tight field in the men’s competition.
Men’s market split wide open
Rafael Nadal (now a $6 hope for the title behind Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic) continue his charge toward a second Australian Open title against Gael Monfils in the second match at Rod Laver Arena tonight. The Spanish ninth seed faces another stern test against the sixth-seeded Frenchman. Giant-killer Denis Istomin will be hoping to cause another upset when he takes on 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov later in the day while ground pass holders are in for a treat with big-serving Canadian Raonic taking on Spanish 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Raonic has won all four head to head matches but five of the nine head-to-head sets were 7-5 or 7-6 scorelines, including four tiebreaks. Bautista-Agut has broken opponents in almost 30 percent of his games played on hard court in the past 12 months so the Spaniard is worth a punt at the +5.5 game- total line at $1.73 on Centrebet. Dominic Thiem and David Goffin not only share a close friendship but close contests too. Goffin has the 4-3 edge in their head-to-head record but Thiem won their last match at the 2015 French Open. The +40.5 match total line appeals at $1.83 (Ladbrokes).
Hopes dashed for Gavrilova?
Australia’s last remaining hope Daria “Dasha” Gavrilova will again take centre stage when she opens tonight’s session against fifth seed Karolina Pliskova. Serena Williams headlines the day session against 16th seed Barbora Strycova, At Margaret Court Arena, ninth seed Johanna Konta is in action against Russian Ekaterina Makarova, followed by the only remaining match that doesn’t feature a seed with American qualifier Jennifer Brady and Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni battling it out. Pliskova looked gone a double break 2-5 down against Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, but the Czech (now second favourite behind Williams) ground out a 10-8 win. She now faces the pressure cooker of a Rod Laver Arena packed with Aussies cheering on their final hope in the tournament. Gavrilova has been riding her luck and it’s likely to run out tonight despite the massive support – take Pliskova 2-0 sets at $1.80 (Crownbet). In two matches, Strycova hasn’t claimed a set over the world No.2 – it’s a trend that will likely continue when they meet today. There’s a little more value in the -19.5-game match total, which $1.83 on Luxbet.