Former world No.4 Tomas Berdych missed the last five months of the 2018 season due to a back injury but is making a successful return to the ATP World Tour. Despite long absence, the 33-year-old Czech reached the final in his first tournament appearance since June at the Qatar Open in Doha. Adding to this, Berdych advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open for the 11th time in his career after beating Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in precisely three hours.
Berdych will next face a difficult challenge in world No.2 Rafael Nadal on Sunday. The 2009 Australian Open champion eased his way into the fourth round in Melbourne with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over local hero Alex de Minaur in two hours and 22 minutes. The Australian teenager couldn’t handle Nadal’s pace with the 32-year-old Spaniard ending the match with six aces, 37 winners and 33 unforced errors. Nevertheless, Nadal committed six double faults and only won 36.36% of the points behind his second serve.
These two players know each other very well. Nadal leads their head-to-head 19-4 but Berdych won their last meeting at the Australian Open in 2015.
The sportsbooks are expecting a straightforward win from Rafael with the No.2 as the heavy favorite at -625 with Intertops. Even though we agree with Nadal’s favoritism, it’s hard to find any value on his current tennis betting odds. The fast court conditions at Melbourne Park suit Berdych’s powerful style and the Czech won at least one set in four of their last six encounters on Hard Court. Nadal has struggled with his second serve and Tomas can make some damage with his powerful groundstrokes. With this in mind, the value is clearly on the Czech’s side with the +2.5 Set Handicap at -120 with Pinnacle as the best betting approach for this match.
Last year’s finalist Marin Cilic survived a huge scare on Friday, saving two match points before beating Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(8), 6-3 in the third round of the Australian Open. Verdasco had a golden chance to clinch an upset win in the fourth-set tiebreak but committed a double fault on match point. Known as one of the best servers in the game, Cilic won 82.02% of the points behind his first serve and ended the match with 66 winners to 51 unforced errors.
Cilic returns to action this Sunday against Roberto Bautista Agut. The 30-year-old Spaniard extended his winning streak to eight matches in 2019 with an impressive straight-sets victory over Karen Khachanov in little over two hours. Bautista Agut is into the fourth round in Melbourne for the fourth time but he’s never made it past that stage. The No.22 seed lost just 10 of his first-service points and won 12 of his 15 points at the net.
This will be the sixth meeting between these two players with Cilic winning four of their five previous encounters on the ATP World Tour.
Despite Bautista Agut’s impressive results in recent weeks, Cilic is a tough matchup for the Spaniard. The fast court conditions at Melbourne Park suit Marin’s style with the 2014 US Open champion winning 76.19% of the matches played throughout his career on this event. On the other hand, Bautista Agut has never progressed beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam in nine previous appearances. Having said that, we’ll take Cilic’s moneyline at -120 with 5Dimes as the best value bet for this contest.