Bet of the Day: Djokovic to Beat Nishikori 3-1 in Australian OpenPublished on: January 22, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
With Roger Federer and Andy Murray both now gone from the field, just two of the game’s modern legends remain in contention for the Australian Open. After Rafael Nadal’s routine progression to the semi-finals, it’s now the turn of Novak Djokovic in a contest which could give the Serb more to think about than some bookmakers seem to think. After “Nole” was pushed hard in a 3-hour-plus victory over Daniil Medvedev in the last 16, a similarly gruelling battle could be in order as the six-times champion faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori for a place in the last four.
Nishikori’s own last-16 contest was not the easiest – he was dragged through five sets and a super-tiebreak by Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, a match that ended with the defeated player launching his bag across the court and yelling his displeasure about a controversial line call at the umpire. Out of all the players left in the tournament, Nishikori has spent the longest on court so far; against the stamina machine that is Djokovic, those long hours may come back to haunt him.
Djokovic Big Favourite For The Win
There is little value to be found in just backing the favourite here – Djokovic is as short as 1/10 to win with some bookmakers as he looks to regain a title he last held in 2016. Winning in the final here would give him his fifteenth major, and his seventh Australian Open title, setting him out on his own as the most successful player in the history of the competition ahead of Federer (the current holder) and Roy Emerson. While Nishikori warmed up for the tournament by defeating Medvedev to win the Brisbane Invitational, facing a player with Djokovic’s history here is very much a different kettle of fish.
To get something resembling decent odds, you’ll need to look at the margin of victory. Nishikori is more than decent enough to take a set off his more heralded opponent, and with Betway offering 5/2 on Djokovic to take this match by three sets to one, our Bet of the Day is for the tournament favourite to do just that. Stranger things have happened than Nishikori overturning the odds – his opponent here went out in the fourth round to the much less-heralded Chung Hyeon last year – but you have to go with the percentages, and they’re all against the Japanese player.
Nishikori Nearing His Best Tennis
It’s easy to make the case for Djokovic – Melbourne is where he has had the greatest success in his career, and he’s one title away from making it his house – but how about the counter-argument? Nishikori has one grand slam final to his name, and though this is his fourth Melbourne quarter-final, he’s never progressed further than that. He has it all to do if he is to overcome the odds. That said, his win in Brisbane is not insignificant. It was his first tournament win since 2016, and a potential sign that he’s back to something resembling his best after some indifferent form. If he can inflict some early damage on his opponent, this could become a far more competitive match than might be expected.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Nishikori has faced Djokovic in the last two majors and neither have ended particularly well for the underdog. At Wimbledon, he was at least able to take a set, but in New York in September, Djokovic won a one-sided US Open semi-final 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. We’d expect him to give a better account of himself here, and he could well take the first set – but as the match goes on, we would expect Djokovic to assert control. Coral are offering an odds boost on this exact eventuality, taking the price from 9/2 out to 11/2.
Prediction: Competitive Start Gives Way To Djokovic Procession
To look at the odds on offer far and wide, it would be easy to conclude that “Nole” was facing a complete novice fresh out of college, not a former US Open finalist. We wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Nishikori’s chances of making this a very competitive match. The first set, in particular, is likely to test Djokovic, who hasn’t gone beyond the fourth round in the heat of Melbourne since 2016. Check out Unibet’s 10/11 price on the opening set lasting longer than 9.5 games, as without winning the first set the Japanese player can’t hope to spring a shock here.
As the match progresses, though, the long matches in the hot and humid Melbourne weather will pose more of a problem to the player who has been through a long five-setter in recent days. We’re backing Djokovic to win this, not in straight sets but by 3-1, and close in on a third consecutive major title.
Bet of the Day: Djokovic to win by 3-1 at 5/2 on betway; First set >9.5 games on Unibet, Nishikori to win first set and lose overall on Coral.