Novak Djokovic vs. Mitchell Krueger
|Date & Time||Monday January 14, 2019, 11:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
Novak Djokovic and Mitchell Krueger meet in the first round of the 2019 tennis Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic is coming off a semifinal appearance in Doha and has plenty of recent reps under his belt with his last three matches going the distance. That’s the good news for Djokovic if you were concerned about rust, the bad news is he’s coming off a match in which he won just 28 percent of his return points. Combine that with early exits in his last two Australian Open appearances and some could be making a case for why Djokovic shouldn’t be favored to win this tournament. Still, Djokovic has won 21 of his last 25 matches when you include exhibition play, so there’s good reason why he’s currently the bet on favorite to take home his fifth grand slam title since 2016. Djokovic hasn’t lost in the first round of a grand slam since the 2006 Australian Open. Djokovic has won five of his last six matches on hard court.
Mitchell Krueger qualified for the Australian Open after winning three straight three set matches, despite entering qualifying on a seven-match losing streak. Just getting to this point has to be considered a success for the 24-year-old American, and now he enters one of the top tournaments in the world with house money. This is just the second grand slam appearance for Krueger, as he made the 2018 US Open and lost in the first round in four sets to Roberto Carballes Baena. Each of Krueger’s last 14 matches have gone the distance, so he’s a competitive player despite the losses and has the chance to become a dangerous player given the fact he has nothing to lose. Krueger has never been ranked inside the top-150 in his career. Krueger has split his last six matches on hard court.
There’s no previous matches between these two players.
Krueger put on a show the last time he qualified for a grand slam and has to feel pretty good by qualifying for this tournament after previously losing his last seven matches. That in itself is a victory. As far as beating or even competing with Djokovic is a completely different story. I’m not concerned with Djokovic’s recent performance and you know he’ll have some added motivation for this tournament after being bounced early the last two years.
I’ll be rooting for the American to put up a fight, but Djokovic in three sets is the logical bet.