Friday, 11 January 2013

Australian Open - Men

The Australian Open draw couldn't have worked out better for defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic (11/10) had he hand picked it himself. While Djokovic takes his place at the top of the draw, Roger Federer (11/2), Andy Murray (33/10) and Juan Martin del Potro (22/1) reside in the bottom half, leaving Djokovic with the comparatively routine task of negotiating his way to the final.

Djokovic begins his defence against Paul-Henri Mathieu and is liable to run into Ryan Harrison, Radek Stepanek and Stanislas Wawrinka before the business end of the tournament commences in the second week. Tomas Berdych (66/1) is seeded to meet Djokovic in the last eight and although the Czech has won a number of big matches in his career, he has struggled mightily to record success against the Serbian. Djokovic leads their head to head 11-1 and holds an emphatic 10-0 (8-0 outdoor, 2-0 indoor) record on hard court against Berdych.

A semi-final match-up with David Ferrer (35/1) will provide Djokovic with his biggest test of the tournament up to that point, but Ferrer will have to overcome the psychological hurdle of an 0-4 record against Djokovic in hard court Grand Slams. It will be a major shock if Djokovic isn't playing on the last Sunday of the tournament with the chance to defend his crown, and we'll be backing him to do just that with a three point selection.

3* Novak Djokovic win Australian Open @ 11/10 (William Hill)

In the third quarter of the draw del Potro appears too big at 11/2 to reach the semi-final. Murray (2/5) is naturally the favourite to come through that section and the chances are high that the two will meet in the last eight for a right to earn a spot in the final four. Historically Murray has been a bad match-up for del Potro and that may well prove to be the case again in Melbourne, but the 5-1 head to head Murray holds isn't as convincing as it first appears. One Murray win was by virtue of retirement, three of the others came in deciding sets over best-of-three and their only meeting at a Grand Slam - the 2008 US Open - was a titanic battle that went four sets and could quite easily have gone the distance.

Del Potro is worth a one point selection at what The Overrule believes to be an inflated price.

1* Juan Martin del Potro win third quarter Australian Open @ 11/2 (Victor Chandler)

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