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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Heather Watson should cruise into round two

Dominic Thiem faces a tricky opener

Heather Watson is in good form
1 of 2

Day two
Eurosport, midnight Monday

Thiem v Pella
Fifth seed Dominic Thiem will be aiming to make a significant mark on the Grand Slam landscape this year but the 24-year-old will not be looking forward to a tricky Australian Open first-round tie against Guido Pella.

Thiem, who was downed in a surprise exhibition by Rafael Nadal on Friday, is a short price but he’s yet to beat Pella after two meetings with the Argentinian.

Pella began the season with a run to the semi-finals in Doha but he didn’t play anyone in Thiem’s class.

The Austrian has been criticised for some scheduling decisions which led to him feeling fatigued at the end of the season but the break should have freshened him up and he should still win.

Pella has the ability to at least bag a set, though, but that eventuality is short enough and perhaps backing Thiem to win 3-1 is the value call.

D Thiem to win 3-1
1pt 14-5 Sky Bet

M Zverev v Chung
Arguably the finest performance of Mischa Zverev’s career came in this tournament last year when the unheralded German knocked out then world number one Andy Murray in the last 16.

He takes on NextGen Finals champion Hyeon Chung in a tough opening round match and the bookmakers expecet the South Korean talent to prevail. Zverev, however, is likely to put up a decent fight and this match could go on for a while.

Chung is a relentless returner but he doesn’t possess the weaponry to blow away Zverev, who usually puts his best foot forward in Grand Slams when useful ranking points and big prize money are on offer.

Zverev is unlikely to reach the quarter-finals again but he was good enough to win nine Slam matches last season so he’s should at least push the youngster all the way. He’s 8-15 to win a set but, with Chung likely to prevail, taking 8-11 about more than three sets in the match could prove to be the best play.

Over 3.5 sets
2pts 8-11 bet365

Australian Open

Men's tournament preview

Women's tournament preview

Putintseva v Watson
Heather Watson is aiming to climb back up the WTA rankings this season and the British number two has an excellent chance of at least reaching the second round of the Australian Open with a victory over Yulia Putintseva.

Watson showed a return to form with a run to the semi-finals of the Hobart International and a repeat of her Tasmanian heroics should be good enough for her to see off the Kazakh.

Putintseva is a capable player but she finished last season in awful form and, while a Hobart victory over Naomi Osaka reads well, she was readily brushed aside by Lesia Tsurenko in the second round.

The pint-sized 24-year-old is emotionally volatile and Watson is the sort of player who is capable of getting under her skin.

H Watson
2pts 8-13 general

Tiafoe v Del Potro

Juan Martin del Potro has already been advised as each-value value for the Australian Open, but the classy Argentinian faces a potentially tricky first-round match against Frances Tiafoe, writes Adrian Humphries.

The American has shown he can be a seriously competitive opponent and Tiafoe, if he brings his A-game to Melbourne Park, could make Delpo work overtime on Tuesday morning.

Del Potro went well in Auckland last week but it was not enough to win the title as Roberto Bautista Agut, a player who has given the Tower of Tandil trouble in the past, knuckled down better to open his account for the season.

Of course, it's possible that while Del Potro says he loves Auckland, he may have had one eye on saving some energy for this Grand Slam.

Del Potro has the talent to dominate Tiafoe but is far from certain to do so and, with neither player a stranger to tiebreaks, the 10-11 about at least one set going to a decider is worth taking.

Tiebreak in match
1pt 10-11 Coral, Ladbrokes

Other matches

Roger Federer begins the defence of his Australian Open title when he takes on ex-Briton Aljaz Bedene in what should be an easy victory for the Swiss maestro.

Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka is also in action but bookmakers do not expect his passage to be anything like as simple against Ricardas Berankis.

Under normal circumstances the 8-13 about the 2014 champ beating the moderate Lithuanian would look massive but Wawrinka has not been sighted since Wimbledon and the Swiss number two has had to battle to make the tournament after undergoing knee surgery.

Novak Djokovic also makes his return to competitive tennis and is a considerably shorter price to see off Donald Young. But the Serbian star has been forced to remodel his service action to protect a troublesome elbow and should be watched.

In the women’s action, Johanna Konta takes on Madison Brengle and the Brit will be hoping to put foot and hip injuries aside against the American. World number one Simona Halep is also on court against young Aussie hope Destanee Aiava.

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The pint-sized 24-year-old is emotionally volatile and Watson is the sort of player who is capable of getting under her skin
E.W. Terms
Sky bet