The line up for the second week of the Australian Open will be finalised on Saturday when the other half of the draw to the one in action on Friday will play down to the last 16 in what is becoming a compelling tournament in Melbourne Park.
We still haven’t had many major shocks in the men’s draw and the ones we have had in the women’s one have only made that event look even more intriguing. It would be foolish to expect any different over the course of Saturday.
Rod Laver Arena
We have an interesting if a little disappointing schedule of play on the main court on Saturday and it gets underway with an all-Chinese battle and Qinwen Zheng looks to make it into the second week at the expense of her compatriot Yafan Wang. When they are done the Wimbledon champion will look to make it through to the next round as Carlos Alcaraz plays his third round match against another player from China in the form of Juncheng Shang.
The night session sees the world number one Iga Swiatek opening up the show. She has been made to work very hard in this tournament already and will be hoping for a smoother passage into the next round when she meets Linda Noskova. Alexander Zverev is the choice to close the show on the main court. The German number one takes on the American player Alex Michelsen for a spot in the second week of the tournament.
Margaret Court Arena
The schedule over on the Margaret Court Arena looks better than the one on the main court in fairness and the semi-finalist from last year, Tommy Paul, gets us underway when he goes up against the dangerous Serbian player Miomir Kecmanovic. They contribute to the only men’s match in the day session and the women’s match which wraps the first part of the schedule up will see the former champion Victoria Azarenka going up against a Jelena Ostapenko who can be a trouble for anyone on her day.
It will be the men who begin the night session with Daniil Medvedev hoping for a much earlier night than he had on Thursday when he was still competing at 3.40am. He might have to prepare for the long haul again though because Felix Auger-Aliassime is another who seems to relish playing lengthy contests. At some point when those two are done Elina Svitolina will look to make it into the second week of the event when she meets Viktorija Golubic.
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John Cain Arena
Three matches take place on the John Cain Arena on Saturday and the schedule begins with two potential superstars meeting when Emma Navarro goes up against the Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska. The other two matches both come from the men’s draw with Hubert Hurkacz another top player bidding to make it through to the last 16. He takes on the French player Ugo Humbert before the other match comes along towards the beginning of the night session when Casper Ruud takes on Cameron Norrie in a potentially lengthy affair.
Best of the Rest
There are five matches out on the outside courts around the ground with three seeds involved in them. Grigor Dimitrov is the highest ranked of them and he’ll be on show on the Kia Arena when he goes up against Nuno Borges while Tallon Griekspoor will look to move into the second week of the competition when he takes on the wildcard Arthur Cazaux. The other seed is Jasmine Paolini who will be on the Kia Arena schedule. She meets Anna Blinkova while Sloane Stephens will also be on show on that court as well.
I’ll go with just the one bet over the course of Saturday which comes in the night session where Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev clash on the Margaret Court Arena in a match I expect to be quite lengthy in terms of games. Medvedev had to go five long sets into the early hours of the night in the last round and Auger-Aliassime has already been five sets in this tournament as well, although he went there in the first round against Dominic Thiem so is entitled to be a little fresher than his Russian opponent.
You have to think that even though he’s been given the night session slot, Medvedev won’t be at full tilt in this one. His body clock must be all over the gaff. Auger-Aliassime has shown signs of returning to form this week. He has been much more aggressive and looked all the better for it. I don’t know if the Canadian will win but I expect him to play his part in a great contest. These two met here in the quarter final two years ago when it went to a deciding set with 57 games in it. I would be very surprised if there isn’t four sets in this one and if there is then I expect to see over 34.5 games land with a bit in hand. That line is low enough to cover in a straight sets game with a couple of tiebreaks, which isn’t out of the question. Seven of the last nine sets between these two have had 10 games in it so throw a couple of tiebreaks in and we cover in three sets.
Back F.Auger-Aliassime vs D.Medvedev – Over 34.5 games for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with William Hill
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