The time difference between the Western world and Australia means we are in the land of nod while much of the Australian Open is unfolding, and that is a shame as the tournament is shaping up nicely.
Most of the big names are into the second or third round already, and so the business end of the competition should be a sight to behold.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of betting value to be had though, so have a look at our guide below, place your bets and set your alarm for the early hours!
Novak Djokovic to beat Gael Monfils 3-0 (11/10)
So far, so good: that will be in the assessment in the Novak Djokovic camp after the Serbian won his first round match against Donald Young in straight sets.
Indeed, he only dropped seven games in completing a one-sided victory, and crucially he looked good doing so: his service motion was solid and showed no signs of breaking down – putting to bed any doubts about that long-standing elbow injury he has seemingly overcome.
Gael Monfils has just returned from injury himself and captured an ATP Tour title last week in Doha, but the head-to-head stats – Djokovic has won their last 14 meetings – are far more relevant in tennis betting than they are in, say, football where the turnover of players renders them obsolete.
The overall set score between the pair reads 34-10 in Djokovic’s favour, and assuming his elbow is fine and dandy we would expect another routine win for the former world number one here.
Nikoloz Basilashvili +6.5 Game Handicap against Kyle Edmund (17/20)
This third round clash on Friday sees two hungry young players with dreams of a lengthy run in Melbourne go head to head.
Kyle Edmund has shouldered the burden of being the only British player in the draw with aplomb: defeating US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in straight sets before seeing off the dangerous Denis Istomin in the second.
At odds of 1/4 Edmund is plenty short enough to win this match, and that offers an opportunity to handicap punters on the other side of the equation.
Nikoloz Basilashvili saw off the talented Ruben Bemelmans in round two to book his place in Friday’s match, and the Georgian is certainly a talent. We expect Edmund to win here, but he might not have matters all his own way.
Gilles Muller vs Pablo Carreno-Busta: Over 39.5 Games (5/6)
Gilles Muller very rarely does things the easy way, and that was once again apparent in his second round encounter against Malek Jaziri which lasted five sets and saw 52 games.
The naysayers would imply that is simply because Muller is a brilliant server with little else to his game, and while that is slightly harsh on the Wimbledon quarter-finalist there is a grain of truth to it.
Despite reaching the last four of the US Open, we remain wholly unconvinced that the hard courts suit PCB’s game, which is built on craft and subtlety. He’s lost seven of his last seven matches on the slicker surface, and with Muller’s serve being such a reliable weapon there is going to be inordinate amounts of pressure on Carreno-Busta to follow suit.
Strap yourself in: this one could go a long way.
Ashleigh Barty vs Camila Giorgi: Over 2.5 Sets (6/4)
Home favourite Ashleigh Barty really struggled in her first round encounter with Aryna Sabalenka, dropping the first set on a tiebreak before bouncing back to win in three.
Perhaps the voluble support Barty received from the Melbourne crowd put additional pressure on her young shoulders, and while Sabalenka wasn’t capable of capitalising you sense that Camila Giorgi will require minimal persuasion.
The 26-year-old reached the semi-finals of last week’s WTA event in Sydney, beating the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and US Open champion Sloane Stephens along the way.
This looks like one of those matches that appears likely to go all the way.
Elena Vesnina to beat Naomi Osaka (21/20)
We have a meeting between the world number 18 and the world number 68 here….and the former is the underdog!
Elene Vesnina won the Indian Wells Masters in 2017 to prove at the age of 31 she’s still got it. In the other majors last year she was unlucky with her draw, losing to Viktoria Azarenka at Wimbledon and losing finalist Madison Keys at the US Open, and so a few early exits aren’t enough to concern us here. A straightforward straight sets win over Ons Jabeur was a nice way to start her Australian Open 2018 campaign.
Naomi Osaka is a 20-year-old who hit the headlines when she knocked Angelique Kerber out of the US Open in the autumn, but it’s been downhill from there with six first-round exits in her last seven tournaments.
The bookmakers are implying this is a 50/50 contest; our belief is that it is anything but.