Australian Open Men's Singles Day Nine: Business as usual expected from elite duo

The Australian Open moves to the quarter-final stage on Tuesday, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview what look like two pretty one-sided matches...

Elite duo extremely strong favourites to make semi-finals

Tuesday sees the beginning of the quarter-final matches across both the men's and women's singles tournaments, and with the two scheduled in the bottom half of the men's draw taking place, we see Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic as extremely heavy favourites to make the semi-finals.
Federer's match against Tennys Sandgren is scheduled to start not before 330am UK time and the Swiss legend is 1.11 to get past the journeyman American, who has matched his best Grand Slam display by getting to this stage - he lost to Hyeon Chung here in the quarter-finals in 2018.
Of course, Federer is a veteran of Grand Slam quarter finals and it's unsurprising that he's a heavy favourite to take this - my model agreed with the market prices - even though his performances here haven't been as assured as he might have liked them to be.

Sandgren with huge break point overperformance

However, even considering those displays, Federer has still shown a far higher level than Sandgren so far in the tournament, winning 1% more points on serve and a much greater 7% on return, and it's interesting to note that Sandgren has had to dramatically overperform on break points (based on service and return points expectation) to get to this stage. He's overperformed by almost 12% for saving break points on serve, and a whopping 21% on return.
Random, and fairly unheralded players making the latter stages of a Grand Slam do tend to exhibit such dynamics but these numbers are rather extreme and should give the market caution with regards to overvaluing Sandgren following this tournament, with mean reversion extremely likely. I anticipate Federer getting through with fairly minimal fuss.

Djokovic with large advantage on return data

Following this, we have what looks to be a closer match-up based on 12 month hard court data between Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic, with Djokovic a very slightly bigger price at 1.16 to that of Federer against Sandgren.
While Raonic has actually held serve more often than Djokovic on the surface across the last 12 months, Djokovic breaks opponents more than double the time Raonic can, and thus still creates a rather large ability differential between the duo.

Raonic with struggles in previous meetings

This has manifested itself in their previous matches with Djokovic winning all nine meetings to date. In these, he's won over 90% of the sets competed and over 60% of games, holding over 92% in the process. Despite Raonic having an excellent serve, the world-class Djokovic has been able to negate it, and Raonic has won around only 60% of service points in their matches, and even filtering for hard or indoor courts only this figure stays at a similar level.
Unfortunately for those who are looking for upsets, there is little evidence that there will be much to celebrate tomorrow, and I feel that we will see 'business as usual' from two of the traditional elite three players on tour currently.

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