AND then there were two.
Daria Gavrilova’s epic collapse in the second round sums up how the local hopes have fared at the 2018 Australian Open.
The 23rd seed had four chances to close out a 6-0 first set win against Elise Mertens before losing seven straight games en route to a 5-7 3-6 defeat.
Olivia Rogowska, Matthew Ebden and John Millman were also ousted on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, there were big scares for several of the top seeds.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed a fifth-set revival to edge out Canadian phenom Denis Shapovalov, while Caroline Wozniacki had to rally from 5-1 down in the third to beat Croatia’s Jana Fett.
The most relieved of all is Grigor Dimitrov, who only just survived an inspired performance from American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald in a five-set thriller on Rod Laver Arena.
Now we turn our attention to the best bets for Friday’s schedule.
Make these picks into an Australian Open multi and Sportsbet will pay you back up to $50 in bonus bets if only one leg fails.
Australian Open multi tips – Friday, January 19
- Wozniacki to beat Bertens
- Kyrgios to beat Tsonga
- Carreno Busta to beat Muller
- Rublev to beat Dimitrov
Kiki Bertens vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Bertens (30) – +390
Wozniacki (2) – -555.56
Yes, Wozniacki is a serial choker at the grand slams.
This time she survived, however, fighting exceptionally hard to steal a result that had looked dead and buried.
The Dane has played Bertens twice and beaten her in straight sets on both occasions, most recently on the hard courts of Doha last year.
Despite her struggles in the last round, Wozniacki’s industrious style should see her through.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Kyrgios (17) – -270.27
Tsonga (15) – +213
Kyrgios was comfortable against Viktor Troicki without ever hitting top gear.
Could that lack of testing opposition and time on court hinder the Aussie more than it helps?
Tsonga took five sets to find his rhythm on Wednesday, but his performance in the final set was vintage.
Although the Frenchman’s odds are tempting and there is money coming for him, the fresher Kyrgios looks hard to beat right now.
Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Gilles Muller
Carreno Busta (10) – -158.73
Muller – +129
Last year’s run to the US Open final showed that Carreno Busta can hang on hard courts as well as clay.
The Spaniard should be fresh as a daisy after Gilles Simon handed him a walkover in the second round.
There was no such luck for Muller, who required five gruelling sets to finish off Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.
The Luxembourg journeyman took some big scalps last year, but Carreno Busta’s superior fitness should win out on this occasion.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Andrey Rublev
Dimitrov (3) – -277.78
Rublev (30) – +219
Dimitrov’s struggles on Wednesday night were much more than a case of being caught unawares by an unheralded rookie.
A wonky backhand, a meek second serve and some bizarre shot selections suggest the Bulgarian is nowhere near as sharp as he was this time last year.
Now he faces a rising star who has already knocked off two experienced campaigners in David Ferrer and Marcos Baghdatis.
Rublev also beat Dimitrov in straight sets at the 2017 US Open, so there is currency in backing the 20-year-old Russian to repeat the trick at Melbourne Park.
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