Konta flying but Makarova could provide stern test
Briton 15-2 to win her maiden Grand Slam crown
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Makarova v Konta
Johanna Konta was a best-priced 15-2 to win the Australian Open following her clinical 6-3 6-1 third-round dismissal of Caroline Wozniacki and the Briton should be fearing nobody as the tournament enters its halfway stage.
But while Konta has eased into the last 16, backing up her performance in winning the Sydney International title two days before the action started at Melbourne Park, there is a lot more work to be done and her fourth-round match may require full attention from the Eastbourne resident.
Ekaterina Makarova is one of the best players never to have won a Grand Slam singles title and the Russian has generally shone at Melbourne in her illustrious career.
Konta has won all three of their previous clashes, but two of those were on grass and their solitary hard-court date was a thriller in last year’s Australian Open.
Punters are definitely not deterred from supporting Makarova at the available quotes but there may be more of a safety net backing her to win at least a set at a shade of odds-against, a price which looks plenty fair enough.
E Makarova to win at least a set
1pt 21-20 Ladbrokes
Thiem v Goffin
There were whiffs of negativity in betting markets surrounding Dominic Thiem before the first Grand Slam of the year, but the Austrian’s results suggest he is playing roughly as well as he was last year.
But while four-set wins over Jan-Lennard Struff, Jordan Thompson and Benoit Paire shouldn’t send Thiem fans off to find the worry beads, the eighth seed is likely to get a full test of his title credentials from David Goffin.
It was argued last year that Goffin could take advantage in a Slam should the big guns come up short. And with Novak Djokovic’s early exit in Victoria, the chance may now be there for the Belgian to strut his stuff.
Thiem is ranked three spots higher than Goffin, but the early market found in the 11th seed’s favour and those who back the outsider to progress may be proved correct.
1pt 4-5 Betfair, Coral, Paddy Power
Gael Monfils is getting better with experience, but given his record against Rafael Nadal surely only the bravest of the brave will be backing the Frenchman to win at least a set at 8-15.
Denis Istomin has never played better and the Uzbek can be considered to win at least a set against Grigor Dimitrov.
Milos Raonic has had few worries in reaching the last 16 and he ought to improve on his 4-0 personal series with Roberto Bautista Agut.
Serena Williams thrashed Barbora Strycova in their two previous meetings, but the Czech has matured a lot in recent years and could cause the second seed more trouble on this occasion.
Karolina Pliskova got out of jail when edging out Jelena Ostapenko 4-6 6-0 10-8 and the Czech will again need to focus against Daria Gavrilova.