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Jiri Vesely to beat Tommy Paul at +250 at Caesars Sportsbook
John Millman to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis at +110 at bet365
Over 12.5 games in first set of Alex Molcan v Nick Kyrgios at +275 at bet365
Marin Cilic to win Adelaide International 1 at +700 at FanDuel
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For those new to this column this season, it’s worth noting the general idea is to hunt out some decent match value – it’s definitely not running up a parlay on a series of short-priced favorites.
It inevitably means our fair share of losers but a few winners are capable of turning a decent profit.
Vesely fits the bill as someone who is overpriced this week.
Paul is well fancied, not only in this match but the Adelaide International as a whole, but the opening week of the season isn’t a time to be backing short prices – there’s often rust to be shaken off.
That could be the case with the American, who ended 2021 well by claiming his maiden title in Stockholm.
— Stockholm Open (@sthlm_open) November 13, 2021
Expectations are now much higher but Vesely is unlikely to be an easy first-match opponent.
The pair have met twice before and across the six sets played, Paul has broken only three times.
There were only three breaks in the entire (claycourt) match when the pair met last season and Vesely’s decent first serve should produce a few aces and many more unreturnable here.
It’s clearly a shot that Paul has struggled with before and I certainly think this can be closer than the odds suggest – odds of +250 about a Vesely win look worth chancing.
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Kokkinakis has long had plenty of talent – he famously beat Roger Federer in Miami in 2018 – but his career has been severely hampered by injury.
He may well be fully fit and raring to go at his home tournament in Adelaide but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be able to click back into winning mode.
The 25-year-old played a pretty full schedule in 2021 – 22 tournaments in all – but he managed just two victories at tour level, the last of which came in March.
Clearly much of that is due to the fact he was playing largely on the Challenger Tour but facing Millman is a step up from that.
His fellow Aussie finished last season by reaching four ATP quarter-finals in the period which followed the US Open, while he also made the last eight on the outdoor hardcourts of Washington.
Millman is a player who has often performed at this time of year. He really should have beaten Roger Federer at the Australian Open two years ago, losing in five sets in the end, while he’s enjoyed quarter-final runs in Auckland and Sydney in the past.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) December 31, 2021
Last week he spoke positively about his fitness, saying he was “physically and mentally in a good spot” and suggesting his 2022 could be even better than last season.
Frankly I’m surprised Millman is the outsider of the two here given he was notching up wins at this level for much of last season and so backing him at +110 makes plenty of sense.
The enigmatic Kyrgios will be playing for the first time since September, while for Molcan, this will be his first match in Australia.
It could be a scrappy affair at the Melbourne Summer Set event but I’d expect focus to be on holding serve, something Kyrgios usually does very well.
He’s not played much since the outbreak of COVID-19 so if we roll back to include his full 2019 campaign, you see that he’s held serve 89% of the time over that three-year period.
While that’s a highly impressive number, his break of serve percentage is a poor 13% and so Molcan will be confident of keeping the scoreboard ticking over when the balls are in his own hands.
You can probably tell I’m edging towards backing a tie-break wager of some shape or form.
Of Kyrgios’ 60 matches since the start of 2019, 32 have featured a breaker. In Australia, 15 of his last 22 matches have seen a tie-break too.
You can get +275 about the first set going the distance in this match, while it’s +100 about there being one in the match. I’ll try the bigger price.
Marin Cilic enjoyed a fine second half of 2021, winning two ATP titles, plus Olympic silver in doubles and helping Croatia reach the Davis Cup final.
Having twice won titles in the opening week of the ATP Tour season, he’s a proven fast starter and can win the Adelaide International in 2022.
Cilic is a former Australian Open finalist so won’t be fazed by the conditions and if the Greenset courts play fairly fast again, his big serve will win him plenty of cheap points.
In what isn’t the strongest field – third seed Cilic is one of just six top-50 players involved – he looks the bet at +700.
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|ATP Adelaide & Melbourne Information|
|What||ATP Adelaide International 1 and ATP Melbourne Summer Set|
|Location||Adelaide, Australia; Melbourne, Australia|
|Time||Monday January 3 to Sunday January 9|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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