Players face reasonably comfortable conditions from Wednesday through to the weekend but those scheduled to hit the courts on Tuesday will be reminded why the Australian Open can be a sometimes-brutal test of endurance. The forecast temperature is 38°C although cloud cover may ease the impact of this extreme heat. In good news for those scheduled to play in the night session, a cool change is expected early in the evening which will drop the temperature back to the low 20s. That’s when fans will watch no. 2 seed Novak Djokovic take on Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and women’s no. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska face Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria. But for the likes of Serena Williams (2), Karolina Pliskova (5), Dominika Cibulkova (6), Milos Raonic (3) and Rafael Nadal (9), there’ll be little respite from the boiler room conditions.
In a Nic of time
The big story on day one was the swift demise of Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. With match-fixing firmly in the spotlight at this year’s Open, Almagro was forced to deflect claims of a money-grab after he lasted just 23 minutes before retiring. Almagro threw in the towel with a calf injury at 4-0 down in the first set against France’s Jeremy Chardy but walked away with an AUD $50,000 cheque as a first-round loser. Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge, a TV commentator, ignited a debate when he said: “Questions to be asked. Did (Almagro) just turn up to take money?” Almagro later insisted: “I went to court because I think I can play. I was top 10, I have more than 10 million dollars. I’m not going to play for $50,000. It is not the reason.”
Boys to men
On the men’s side, the big guns all prevailed yesterday but, for our best of the day, we like the look of a former Australian Open boys’ champion. Alexander Zverev is on the cusp of the top 20 and looks to improve his ranking with a win over veteran Dutchman Robin Haase. The 19-year-old German should get this done in three sets, priced at $1.70 with Ladbrokes. Two more players entering the latter stages of their career are also in action today. Marcos Baghdatis is a favourite with the Melbourne Park fans but looks unders as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. It’s been almost a decade since the 34-year-old Russian reached the quarterfinals in this event but looks good value ($2.60 with William Hill) to cause the upset here.
Early tram for Sam
For one reason or another, Aussie Sam Stosur has a horrible record on home soil. She has won just 21 of her past 50 matches in Australia and has cost punters a packet with a 24-22 career record as favourite in front of home fans. The books have made Stosur a $1.80 favourite but we’ll be taking the Brit Heather Watson, who showed some decent touch in the Hopman Cup ($2.00 with Paddy Power). Likewise, Lucie Safarova’s career is in decline through a combination of injury and illness. The Czech player has managed just four wins from 15 matches on hard courts in the past 12 months. We’ll be taking her Belgian opponent Yanina Wickmayer at the +3.5-game handicap, available at $1.83 on Luxbet.
Bet on Henrik Stenson to become the BMW PGA Championship Winner.
Back Australia to take the Ashes home with them.
Back Rafael Nadal to become the Mens French Open Winner.
Back One For Arthur to win the Grand National.
Back Mexico to win the Confederations Cup.