Australian Open men’s singles round one: Murray begins campaign
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | January 18, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Men’s singles round one
- Tuesday, January 19th
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport 1 and 2
Motivated Murray to swoop past Zverev
The 2016 Australian Open is now underway, with not too many shocks to report on after the opening day, though British duo Kyle Edmund and Heather Watson have already exited.
Day two of the tournament sees Andy Murray kick off his campaign in his bid for a third Grand Slam title (11/2 second-favourite with Coral), and first Down Under, as he duels with giant German teenager Alexander Zverev.
Scotsman Murray has never faced the 18-year-old in a singles-only event before, but did beat him twice in the Hopman Cup team competition this year – firstly 6-3 6-4 and then when with doubles partner Watson by the same score.
The number two seed is heavily odds-on at 1/33 for victory over Zverev (11/1) again, and a more enticing 1/3 to do so in straight sets once more. However, for a better bet, take a price of 10/3 to Murray to claim the opening set 6-3.
Former champs Nadal and Wawrinka face tricky veterans
Former winner Rafael Nadal has been handed a tricky tie on his return to form, as he goes up against fellow left-handed Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, 32, in the first round.
They have played 17 times before, with the 14-time Grand Slam champion winning 15 of them, though the elder Verdasco (13/2 for victory) has triumphed in two of their last three meetings including once on hard surface.
Nadal is the 1/12 odds-on favourite but, with the duo having battled out a five-setter at the Australian Open before (the semis in 2009, before going on to lift the trophy), back him to come through 3-2 again at 7/1.
Another past winner of this event, more recently in 2014, Stan Wawrinka (1/100 match favourite) takes on the man who holds the claim of being the last man to lose to Tim Henman on tour, Dmitry Tursunov (20/1).
The duo have one victory apiece against the other, though the Russian’s came way back in 2008 and has not played much on the tour in the last year. Swiss number two Wawrinka is 1/5 to win 3-0 but if you think 33-year-old Tursunov can roll back the years and grab a set, then take odds of 10/3.
Other top seeds in action on day two
Tournament outsiders such as Milos Raonic, Kevin Anderson and David Ferrer also all feature on day two in Melbourne, and are highly expected to overcome respective opponents Lucas Pouille, Rajeev Ram and Peter Gojowczyk.
Number 10 seed John Isner (1/4 favourite), though, goes up against dangerous Pole Jerzy Janowicz (3/1) in a battle of giants for a place in the second round. Going by Isner’s history, this could go the distance so back the American at 9/2 to win in five sets.
Can British duo succeed?
With Watson and Edmund out, and Johanna Konta up against former great Venus Williams in the women’s section, it is up to Dan Evans and Aljaz Bedene to back up Murray, who his all-but certain to reach the next round.
Birmingham-born Evans (5/2), part of Great Britain’s Davis Cup-winning team, did well to come through qualifying, but has been paired with 18th seed Feliciano Lopez (3/10). Evans has upset the odds before, though, and terrific odds of 5/2 are available for this match to go over 4.5 sets.
Slovenian-born Bedene, meanwhile, has a better chance of reaching the Australian Open second round for the first time, as he takes on American Steve Johnson (4/6 for victory), though is still the 6/5 match outsider.
Others to look out for
Elsewhere, retiring home hope Lleyton Hewitt could face his last ever professional match as he goes up against compatriot and fellow wildcard James Duckworth (6/4), but is odds-on at 8/15 to win.
Other former top 10-ranked veterans Tommy Robredo and Radek Stepanek are also aiming to progress, and tackle Malek Jaziri and Tatsuma Ito respectively. While another Aussie Bernard Tomic could find his clash with Denis Istomin tricky.
Gael Monfils, Jeremy Chardy, Viktor Troicki, Jack Sock, Fabio Fognini and Joao Sousa are other seeded stars in action on the day.
Coral’s top tip: Murray has won the opening set 6-3 against Zverev in their only two meetings, so back him at 10/3 to do so once more.