Australian Open Men's Singles Day Seven: Schwartzman can keep it close against Djokovic

Men's singles action at the Australian Open continues on Sunday, with the fourth round commencing, and back to discuss the matches is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

Monfils and Rublev among those progressing on day six

There was another intriguing day's play at the Australian Open on Saturday with our pick, Gael Monfils, getting past Ernests Gulbis in straight sets. With our outright pick for the second quarter, Andrey Rublev, getting past a tricky test in David Goffin for the loss of one set, it was a good day for this column. With two matches close to completion at the time of writing, all the men's matches so far today have gone the way of the pre-match market favourites.

Raonic favourite for serve-orientated clash with Cilic

Action gets underway at 2am UK time with a big-serving clash first on the card - Milos Raonic against Marin Cilic. Raonic is the market favourite at 1.58 and my projected hold model has him expected to hold his service game around 95% of the time, which illustrates the likely serve-dominated nature of this meeting. I also anticipate the match to be tight and the winner will likely be the player who can take more of their few chances, although I do agree with the market prices.
Surprisingly, considering they are two players regularly ranked in or around the top 10, the duo haven't met that often, only facing each other three times and not for almost three years. While their three meetings to date have only featured one tiebreak in seven sets, it's worth noting that the last two matches in particular were played in slower conditions than they are likely to face tomorrow. Even so, over 90% of service games have been held in their head-to-head matches to date.

Schwartzman can keep it close against Djokovic

Novak Djokovic faces Diego Schwartzman in the second match on the schedule, with the odds-on outright market favourite Djokovic a very short-looking 1.04 against the competent Schwartzman.
In fact, the Argentine, Schwartzman, has broken opponents almost the same amount as Djokovic on hard court over the last 12 months - it's just his serve which holds him back against elite level opposition. However, I do think he can be more competitive than the market expects here.
Schwartzman is yet to drop a set en route to this stage and his last two matches against Djokovic have been competitive - both have gone to a deciding set, albeit both on clay where the ability differential between the duo is a little smaller.
It looks like +8.5 games will be the main game handicap line in favour of Schwartzman, and it should settle at around even money on the Exchange in the run up to the match. It's not a huge lean, but it's the best of a bad bunch today.

Market cautious on Federer's chances following Millman marathon

In other matches, Fabio Fognini is a 1.60 favourite to get past Tennys Sandgren, and the market looks to have this about right in a match with rather contrasting styles, while the market is perhaps a little defensive about the chances of Roger Federer in advance of his meeting with Marton Fucsovics.
Federer is available at 1.18 on the Exchange at the time of writing, which looks slightly big to me although nothing particularly noteworthy. I'm certainly interested to see his level after a marathon five-setter against John Millman on Friday, and I'm sure Federer is fully aware of the benefits to avoiding accumulated fatigue in early rounds against heavy favourites - it may eventually cost him later on in the tournament.

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