Australian Open Men's Day Five Tips: Shapovalov can edge big-serving clash

The Australian Open moves to the third round stage on Friday with eight matches on the schedule. Returning to preview the day ahead is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

Murray among day four defeats

Several big names exited the tournament on Thursday with Andy Murray falling in straight sets to Taro Daniel - remember the accumulated fatigue I mentioned - and there were also losses for the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Diego Schwartzman. Tournament favourite Daniil Medvedev needed over three hours against Nick Kyrgios to book his round three slot, and now faces Botic van de Zandschulp on Saturday.

Eight matches from the top half of the draw are on the card for Friday and, while there are a few mismatches, there's also some pretty interesting clashes ahead with a few looking rather serve-orientated.

Shapovalov slight underdog value against Opelka

Denis Shapovalov is a very marginal 2.06 underdog against Reilly Opelka, and I've mentioned a few times that I'm unconvinced that Opelka is quite as good as some of his results last season. Winning a high percentage of tiebreaks is a pretty unsustainable route to long-term success for Opelka and in what I anticipate to be a match of few break chances, I'm happy to side with Shapovalov.

Opelka has won around 5% more service points on hard court in the last 12 months, but Shapovalov has about a 7% edge on return, and my model has the Canadian as the pre-match favourite here.

The only slight negative is Shapovalov needing a long five-setter against Soon Woo Kwon in round two, but to me he looks like the better player from a numbers perspective.

Alcaraz looking short against Berrettini

Matteo Berrettini had some fitness issues towards the back end of last season at the ATP Finals but if in decent shape, looks a little generously priced against the Spanish phenomenon, Carlos Alcaraz. Again, there's a big difference between the serve and return numbers of the two players, with Berrettini the stronger server and Alcaraz the better returner, both by some distance but kind of cancelling each other out. Alcaraz looks short at 1.65.

Korda another with underdog chances

Another underdog who looks like having some potential is Sebastian Korda, who is 2.24 for his meeting with Pablo Carreno-Busta. We had success opposing the Spaniard on the game handicap in the previous round against Tallon Griekspoor, and I don't think there's much between him and Korda on the numbers at all. At the relative stages of their careers, Korda does have more future upside as well, and I like his chances both here and in the longer-term future.

Khachanov a test for King of Clay

In other matches, Gael Monfils, Alexander Zverev and Rafa Nadal are heavy favourites to make round four, although Nadal does face a pretty tricky test in Karen Khachanov. With the King of Clay not having faced a single opponent ranked inside the top 60 all season so far, this will be a real step up in quality and it should also be a pretty good marker of where Nadal is at right now.

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