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Australian Open preview, bets and analysis

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Andy Schooler previews Sunday’s Australian Open men’s singles final between his outright pick Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic.

Tennis betting tips: Australian Open men’s final

1pt Novak Djokovic to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-0 at 6/4 (William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes)

1pt Tsitsipas to serve the most double faults at 7/4 (BetVictor, bet365)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

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Sunday’s Australian Open features two players in good form and full of confidence.

A competitive match awaits, right?

I’m not so sure.

While it’s possible to make a case for Tsitsipas, there’s an awful of lot of evidence which suggests Djokovic will be holding the trophy aloft for a record-extending 10th time come the end of the contest.

His second week of the tournament could not have gone a great deal better for him with Alex de Minaur, Andrey Rublev and Tommy Paul all ruthlessly brushed aside.

Admittedly Djokovic’s level dropped a tad against Paul, particularly in the opening set, but he still looked in control at virtually every stage.

Importantly, the hamstring injury which appeared to be causing problems in week one hasn’t been an issue, albeit the Serb’s thigh remains strapped.

The obvious retort to Djokovic’s strong second week is that Tsitsipas should provide a greater test.

That’s fair to say but will that be enough to throw the nine-time winner out of his stride in his Rod Laver Arena castle? It seems doubtful.

Djokovic has won all nine previous finals he’s played at Melbourne Park, winning three of the last four in straight sets.

Overall, he’s now 88-8 at this tournament in his career, with the last 27 matches all won.

Like Federer in his pomp at Wimbledon and Nadal still at Roland Garros, this is Djokovic’s domain.

Tsitsipas has served well throughout the tournament yet he’s still not held as regularly as Djokovic (91% to 94%). He’s also significantly down on the Serb when it comes to return games won (25% to 44%).

The Greek will look to use that serve and his forehand to punch holes in the famous Djokovic defence but the ‘fluffy’ Dunlop balls won’t help on that front and neither will the forecast cooler conditions on Sunday evening. You also have to remember his opponent is one of the best returners of all time.

Djokovic will doubtless target the Tsitsipas backhand, a shot which has stood up well so far, but one which seems likely to be broken down by the Serb in the cross-court exchanges.

That’s certainly been the case in the past with Djokovic bringing a 10-2 winning head-to-head record into this one. He has been victorious in the last nine, including three in the past four months.

The underlying figures are cause for concern for Tsitsipas.

Djokovic has broken serve almost twice as often – 38 times to 20 – across the series. He also has significant leads on first and second serve points won – seven percentage points on the former and 10 on the latter.

That second-serve figure is a worry given that is an area where Tsitsipas has actually performed well in this tournament – he’s won 58% of his second-serve points across the six matches so far. Djokovic’s equivalent figure is 55%.

Tsitsipas can at least say he leads the pair’s outdoor hardcourt head-to-head 2-1, although his last win came back in 2019 in Shanghai.

To be fair, he’s done everything asked of him in this event, steadying the ship impressively both times he’s been threatened – by Jannik Sinner in the last 16 and Karen Khachanov in Friday’s semi-final.

That’s helped land the each-way part of the bet on him in our outright preview but the level rises significantly here.

The challenge to beat Djokovic is always a hard one; bidding to do it here raises the difficulty level another notch or two.

And Tsitsipas will also have to do it knowing he’s seeking to achieve something he’s never done before – win a Grand Slam title.

He simply has to start well to stand a chance – Djokovic is 285-5 when winning the first set of a Grand Slam match and he hasn’t lost from a set up in a major for more than six years.

Given everything I’ve spoken about, I just don’t see Tsitsipas causing the upset here unless Djokovic is well off his best. There have been few signs of that in the past week, while time and again over the years he’s been able to deliver at the business end of tournaments such as this.

I feel there’s value in the 6/4 on offer about a STRAIGHT-SETS success, albeit the strapped leg remains in the back of my mind – this doesn’t look a match to go big on.

As for the sub-markets, Sky Bet may be taking a chance offering 4/5 about there being a tie-break in the match – four of the last five meetings have featured one.

However, preference is to head to the double-fault markets where TSITSIPAS looks a big price at 7/4 to serve the most.

I’m not really sure how some layers have come to this market conclusion given Tsitsipas has landed this in seven of the 12 previous meetings, with one tie.

A look at this tournament shows both men have delivered 22 double faults so far and while Tsitsipas has played a couple more sets, I still don’t think the price is justified.

His serve is almost certainly going to be put under more pressure here than at any point in the tournament so far which could lead to more errors as the Greek goes for the lines more.

It’s far from a cert but there’s definitely value in the price.

Posted at 1355 GMT on 28/01/23

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