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Australian Open Picks – Men’s Singles Third Round (Jan 20)

Stephanie Myles

by Stephanie Myles in Tennis

Updated Jun 3, 2023 · 12:21 PM PDT

Andy Murray signs some autographs
Andy Murray signs some autographs after his warmup for his second-round match Thursday against Thanasi Kokkinakis. He had no idea then that more than 12 hours later, in the wee hours, he would still be battling it out on court. (Photo by Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)
  • Seven of the 16 men’s seeds in the bottom half of the Australian Open men’s singles draw are still alive
  • The favorite remains Novak Djokovic, whose left hamstring is a major concern
  • Read on as we break down some of the matches being played Friday night/Saturday morning ET in our Australian Open picks

Out of Aussie wild card Alexei Popyrin and three Americans – Ben Shelton, JJ Wolf and lucky loser Michael Mmoh – one will be an Australian Open quarterfinalist by early next week. It’s a tremendous opportunity; the question remains which of them will seize it in our Australian Open picks?

Australian Open Odds

Matchup Moneyline
[5] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. [25] Dan Evans (GBR) -390 / +295
Ugo Humbert (FRA) vs. [9] Holger Rune (DEN) +350 / -475
Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) vs. [22] Alex de Minaur (AUS) +290 / -380
Tommy Paul (USA) vs. Jenson Brooksby (USA) -145/ +120
J.J. Wolf (USA) vs. [LL] Michael Mmoh (USA) -295/ +235
[27] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. [4] Novak Djokovic (SRB) +450 / -600
Andy Murray (GBR) vs. [24] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) +270 / -350
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) vs. Ben Shelton (USA) -150 /+125

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But the entire bottom half of the draw goes through nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.

And with his ongoing hamstring issue not truly having been tested in his first two rounds, he comes up against an experienced veteran, No. 27 seed Grigor Dimitrov, in his quest to survive into the second week.

There remains good value in the Australian Open odds given that upsets pay off, and the current state of the draw is ripe with upset possibilities.

Dimitrov vs Djokovic Prediction

If you had to pick Djokovic against the field at this point, you’d probably have to go with the field even though he remains an overwhelming favorite.

In Dimitrov, he faces an opponent with a lot more experience than his first two victims this week.

But the 31-year-old Bulgarian, whose ranking topped out at No. 3 five years ago, has just one win in 10 attempts against Djokovic. And that came nearly a decade ago, on red clay in Madrid.

His belief level won’t be high even if during two of their last five meetings, he has taken the first set. They haven’t played in more than three years, since the indoor Paris Masters in the fall of 2019.

The outcome of this match will be thoroughly up to Djokovic.

Australian Open Picks: First set to Dimitrov (+240)

Murray vs Bautista Agut Prediction

Andy Murray provided all the late-night drama you could ask for with his astonishing victory over Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis early Thursday morning in Melbourne.

The match finished after 4 am – which is ludicrous. But Kokkinakis really should have finished it off in three sets.

Combined with the five-setter Murray played to beat Matteo Berrettini in the first round, and the fact that he has a metal hip, you wouldn’t give him a ghost of a chance to somehow recover and be able to play another marathon.

Roberto Bautista Agut is less than a year younger than Murray – his contemporary in many ways – but his body has far less wear and tear.

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The two first played at Wimbledon in 2014, and are 3-3 against each other. But while Murray won the first three, Bautista Agut has won the last three – notably, two easy victories on hard courts in 2022.

Murray is playing much better now. But we’re not expecting a replay of their first-round match at the 2019 Australian Open.

Murray did what he does – he lost the first two sets, squeaked out two tiebreaks to push it the distance and lost in five.

That was early on in his return; and the rematch will bring back memories of that defeat, and Murray’s near-certainty that he was going to retire.

Four years later, he’s still here. But Bautista will end Murray’s great Melbourne story.

Australian Open Picks: Bautista Agut in Four Sets (+235)

Popyrin vs Shelton Prediction

Popyrin, a former junior Slam champion, has taken a while to get to this level.

Shelton, still just 20, went the college tennis route until it became clear that he was ready for prime time.

Not only is he ready, he embraces the spotlight.

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He already has a far more varied, all-around game than Popyrin, who will have the additional pressure of being an Aussie at the Aussie Slam.

Popyrin will be more nervous than Shelton, who is just getting started; it’s all new and shiny and fun for him.

Australian Open Picks: Shelton in Four Sets (+450)

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