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2000 Austrialian Open -- No value in the bookies lists - at the moment

17 January 2000

Mens

There were a couple of minor surprises during the first day of play in the Australian Open Championships that started in Melbourne on Monday (Sunday night Eastern and Pacific). Last year's runner-up and no.6 seed Thomas Enqvist was a surprise first round casualty losing out 10-8 in the fifth set to Aussie Richard Fromberg. Also on the missing list went no.14 seed Karol Kucera ousted by Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan.

In the men's top half of the draw, the tournament favourites Andre Agassi (3/1) and twice Aussie Open winner Pete Sampras (7/2), easily won their matches and neither should be troubled by their second round opponents. The bookies will ask you to bet very big odds on (maybe as short as -400 the parlay) for both to win through. And needless to say we will avoid that less than tasty morsel.

Surviving after titanic battles were Brit Tim Henman (still a joke 25/1 quote with some bookies to win the title) who won two out of three tie breaks and got past Frenchman Jerome Golmard in four. Henman will have his work cut out getting past Rainer Schuttler in the next round , let alone contesting the final.

American Todd Martin had to go to five sets and 8-6 in the final to see off Byron Black and big serving Aussie "Scud" Marc Philippoussis had to also sweat out five to get past Israel's Noam Oksun. Both Martin and "Scud" will be hoping that their respective second round opponents Fernando Vicente and Dutch qualifier Ramon Sluiter will succumb more easily. The bookies will make both the seeds very short favourites, but we would certainly be interested in Vicente at odds of 4/1 or bigger.

The bottom half of the draw which contains the defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov (8/1), and young Aussie superstar Lleyton Hewitt (12/1) gets under way tonight.

18-year-old Hewitt is on a double digit unbeaten run and playing with all the confidence and exuberance that comes with being young fearless and knowing that you are at the top of your game. However the young Aussie has no gimme in the first round against Paul Goldstein , even though the bookies' make him a near certainty and quote odds as short as-700. If (or according to the odds makers when) Hewitt defeats Goldstein he will likely face Spanish clay courter Alex Corretja , before probably meeting fifth seeded Gustavo Kuerten. With the big hitting Magnus Norman also in his quarter we would want substantially bigger odds than the 12/1 quote before backing the "boy-wonder".

Defending champ Kafelnikov has not been in the best of form since the start of the year and although we suspect that like Agassi and Sampras he is now a "big tournament" player, who simply goes-through-the -motions in the weekly grind of the ATP circuit. We can afford (at odds of 8/1) to see evidence of his form before committing any monies.

Jason Stoltenberg taking on Jonas Bjorkman, Nicolas Lapenti versus Andrei Medvedev and Vincent Spadea versus Adrian Voinea are the most keenly priced matches tonight although none take our fancy as betting mediums.

Ladies

As we suspected the bookies did not offer any match odds on the gals as they began their quest for the first of the grand slams.

Lindsay Davenport comfortably got through her first round. Barring twisted ankles and the like the Wimbledon champ seems to have a "bye" through the first three rounds as -despite the nonsense that is written by some ill-informed journalists about the women's tour being more competitive than the men's, Davenport , Martina Hingis and Serena Williams are different gear to the remainder of the field.

Number One seed Martina Hingis heads the bookies' lists at general odds of 9/5 in the Ladies event, as the "Swiss Miss" bids to win her fourth Aussie Open crown in a row. Serena Williams at odds of 4/1 (remember that we recommended her at 20/1 when she won the US Open last year) is in her half, with Davenport (2/1) the other favoured player.

No.15 seed Anke Huber and Jelena Dokic (the gal who knocked out an out-of-sorts Hingis at Wimbledon last year) both failed to get past the first round. But the other seeds in the bottom half of the draw, including Amelie Mauresmo -beaten in the final by Hingis last year and supported with some bookies at all rates from a best priced 25/1 to as short as 7/1, 1995 winner Mary Pierce (25/1), Anna Kournikova (40/1), and Natalie Tauziat (50/1) all progressed without breaking sweat (sorry ladies perspiration).

One of the 100/1 outsiders that we will be keeping a close eye in matches, is reformed former "wonder teen" American Jennifer Capriati who is enjoying her tennis again and seems to be approaching the form that saw her ranked amongst the world's best when Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and co. ruled the world a few years ago.

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