Just two days before the start of the Australian Open, we have one more final to assess. Will it be the legendary Sir Andrew Barron Murray’s 47th title, or will last year’s sensation, Aslan Karatsev, down the Briton? We make our top Karatsev-Murray picks for the ATP Sydney final.
Coming into the tournament off a positive COVID-19-test, both the sportsbooks and bettors alike doubted where Aslan Karatsev would be at physically. The Russian showed that he ha his powerful game in top form, and the sensational 2021 Australian Open semifinalist will be vying for his third career title.
It has been over two years since Murray last won four consecutive matches, and by winning two straight matches from a set down he won his first title since his hip resurfacing surgery. The 34-year old is improving every time he steps onto the court and will make a return to the top 100 with a win on Saturday.
Here are my tennis picks and predictions for Saturday’s ATP Sydney Final match between Aslan Karatsev and Andy Murray (odds via Caesars & Unibet; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Karatsev vs. Murray Match Info
Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 15, 3 a.m. ET
TV: Tennis Channel
Location: NSW Tennis Centre, Sydney, Australia
Karatsev vs. Murray Odds Analysis
With the bookmakers still not fully trusting the Russian, the world No. 20 opened at around -115 across multiple books. The market has quickly slashed this price to anywhere from -125 (Caesars) to -155 (Draftkings), and is likely still dropping, so be sure to shop around!
To hoist his first trophy in over two years won’t be an easy feat. Thus, the Briton opened around +100 and has drifted to around +125.
Karatsev vs. Murray Picks
Karatsev (-125 via Caesars) ★★
Karatsev -4.5 games (+300 via Unibet) ★
SEE ALSO: All Sports Picks
Karatsev vs. Murray Predictions
The major strength in Karatsev’s game, especially on quicker courts, is his incredibly easy power from a low contact point. Whether he hits it on the forehand or backhand wing matters not, the ball rips through the courts and skids off the surface at difficult angles for opponents to reach.
Whilst possessing powerful strokes in all aspects of the game, the Russian is also excellent in extended rallies, often coming up with winners from out of nowhere, which was on full display in his closely contested semifinal with Daniel Evans. The Briton raised his game significantly in the second set (AK won the first 6-3), and survived a tense tiebreak, saving multiple match points.
Aslan would not be discouraged, and he rallied for a 6-3 win in the decider, which he has accomplished in seven of his last 10 deciders on hard court.
Murray may not (yet) be the man he once was, but the former world No. 1 and multiple-time Slam champion is steadily improving. His short backswing enables a stellar return game, which in combination with his incredible resilience from the baseline and never-say-die attitude, puts a lot of pressure on the opposition.
Murray struggled with finding first serves since his comeback, though it has been a lot better this week. In a tense three-set semifinal thriller against Reilly Opelka, Murray hit 67% of his first serves.
At the end of the day though, Karatsev is fitter, the more powerful ball-striker, consistent both from the baseline and mentally, and the better player. He has all the pedigree and cool to take down another giant of the game, just like he did to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and many others last season.
Karatsev -4.5 games (+300)
Even against the biggest of servers, Karatsev’s great lower body strength and quick hands enable him to get a lot of balls back, often at a difficult angle.
Though Murray is improving physically by the day, one still has to wonder how much he has left in the tank, and BO5 tennis at the Australian Open is just three days away.
Most often a quick starter, the Russian won the first set in five of his last six hard court matches.
In those affairs, the set was won 6-3 or better on four occasions. If Aslan gets going early here, this alternate line could well be covered fairly comfortably.
Karatsev-Murray picks made on 1/14/2022 at 10:42 a.m. ET.