The Australian Open have not been treating us well at all so far. Another bet went down the tube in Ekaterina Alexandrova yesterday. The Russian had break point and game point in the first two games, but got completely run over after that. We also lost two more outrights in Madison Keys and Stefanos Tsitsipas on what has been one of the bigger upset days in recent history.

Quarter two of the women's draw saw the two biggest upsets as the projected quarterfinal between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams was blown up by Cori Gauff and Qiang Wang. Today, our two remaining outrights are fighting to get into week two as Dominic Thiem is up against Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev faces local youngster Alexei Popyrin.

Rusty Russian

Rafael Nadal vs. Nick Kyrgios is the match everyone is looking out for on the men's side. Both of them have one more match to play before their possible fourth round clash. While Nadal takes on fellow countryman Pablo Carreno Busta, it's Karen Khachanov who challenges Kyrgios.

The Russian starts the match as an underdog despite being the higher seed. His tennis has been declining a lot over the last 52 weeks. After winning the ATP Masters in Paris in November 2018, he wasn't able to convert that form into 2019. At this year's ATP Cup, he played solid, beating who he was supposed to beat, but losses against Lajovic and Millman (in Auckland) showed that he is still far from his best.

In the first two rounds here in Melbourne, Khachanov fought his way through Mario Vilella Martinez 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-3 and Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6. Starting his first round match as a -2000 favorite, he struggled much more than necessary. In the last round, he even found himself down 6-8 in the super tiebreak before winning four points in a row to survive an epic battle. After that, the Russian admitted that he doesn't play his best tennis at the moment.

Many Motivations for "Man of the People"

When facing a motivated Nick Kyrgios, you should at least come close to that though. The Australian made quite a few new friends this summer, showing lots of commitment for bushfire victims. He was the one that started the "Aces for Bushfire Relief" initiative together with Ellen Perez, pledging he would donate 200 AUD per ace he hits.

Betting on matches involving Nick Kyrgios is something I try to avoid where I can for a few years now, but this time, his motivation should not be an issue at all. Not only is he "playing for a lot more than [himself]", the opportunity to play Rafa in front of his home crowd next round will definitely spur him even further.

Kyrgios came here with wins over Lorenzo Sonego, 6-2 7-6 7-6, and Gilles Simon, 6-2 6-4 4-6 7-5. Simon is a player that can annoy Kyrgios as he's also able to play junk ball just like the Aussie. He did that very well for most parts of sets three and four, but in the end it was Kyrgios who came out on top. Both players also mocked Nadal's serve routine after receiving time violations. Once again it showed that Nadal is in Kyrgios' head and how much he's looking forward to that duel.

Fatigue Factor

Apparently there are many versions of Kyrgios that can turn up, but if he's focused and motivated, he can be up there with the best. The local hero has been on court for five hours during his first two matches. While he's not supposed to be the fitter player in any matchup, he might yet have another advantage over Khachanov, who has been on court for almost seven and a half hours. His match against Ymer lasted 4 hours and 35 minutes and he looked, understandably enough, like he was on his last legs.

The match will be played last on Melbourne Arena, the court Kyrgios chooses over Rod Laver Arena again and again as anybody can get in there. It's a Saturday night match and the crowd will be cheering for him massively.

Khachanov will leave everything on the court again, but I'm not sure if that's enough. He played two and a half hours longer than Kyrgios, which will show at some point as his defense will be more demanded than before against an attacking Aussie. Courts here in Melbourne also don't adopt the spin as much, which will make it even harder for him in rallies. Summarized, I just don't see Khachanov keeping this close for too long being the more fatigued player. Therefor, I bring myself to bet Kyrgios on the -1.5 sets handicap.

All bets

Kyrgios -1.5 sets

Kyrgios, Nick - Khachanov, Karen

  • -1.00 u