MARK Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) picks out his favourite bets from Day 2 of the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal v Fernando Verdasco | Tuesday 03:00 | Eurosport
In my outright preview I mentioned that Rafael Nadal was still being slightly overrated in the betting markets. For those that don’t follow tennis too closely, 2015 was the Spaniard’s worst year on tour for over a decade.
Just two titles, no slams including losing his crown of king of clay at Roland Garros and suffering no fewer than 22 defeats – three more than 2014 and 2013 combined.
It’s the hard court where he has been most vulnerable, losing 31% of his matches (9 of 29) including at odds of 2/5, 2/7, 1/4, 1/7 and 1/20. He’s spoken publicly about his lack of confidence on the court and it’s noticeable to see.
He’s regularly dropping the ball short allowing his opponents to attack him more often and his defence is below it’s usual high standard. The once trusty forehand is inconsistent and opponents are no longer walking onto court believing they’ve already lost.
Which brings me nicely onto tonight’s opponent Fernando Verdasco. Nadal leads the head-to-head 16-2 yet when they last met on hard court in Miami last March, Verdasco came away as the victor 6-4 2-6 6-3.
Indeed Rafa went into last year’s quarter final here with Tomas Berdych with one of the sports most dominant H2H records (19-3) and was comprehensively beaten 6-2 6-0 7-6.
So Verdasco has broken the spell and looks value at 8/1 to repeat last year’s victory on a court speed not too dissimilar to Miami, particularly given he was 9/2 that day and Nadal has since gone on to justify that defeat with his results over the rest of the year.
I’m also going to suggest a play on Verdasco to win the 1st set at 4/1. He may not win the match but there’s enough to suggest he can take a set (just 5/4) and I’d rather take the former as well as pass on the handicap (6.5) as I’m envisaging a closely fought match or Nadal to cruise through in straight sets if Fernando doesn’t turn up as the 8/15 on 3-0 suggests.
Obviously Verdasco won the 1st set in Miami and last year when beaten by Djokovic in the 3rd round here it was only on a tie-break (10-8) so there’s enough to suggest he can start well.
These two actually met here seven years ago in an epic five set semi-final with Nadal just prevailing 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-7 6-4. Let’s hope Verdasco can get off to a similar start and go on to take advantage as he did last time they took to a hard court.
Rafael Nadal v Fernando Verdasco – Fernando Verdasco to win (8/1 Sportingbet)
Rafael Nadal v Fernando Verdasco – Fernando Verdasco to win the first set (4/1 William Hill)
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