Novak Djokovic (-3300) vs. Fernando Verdasco (+1400)
One of the most interesting matches of the third round of the 2015 Australian Open has the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic, trying to avoid an upset against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco (Friday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern).
Djokovic has yet to lose a set at the tournament; he beat Aljaz Bedene (6-3, 6-3, 6-4) and Andrey Kuznetsov (6-0, 6-1, 6-4) in straight sets. He’s a heavy -3300 favorite to get by Verdasco tomorrow.
“After my first-round match I was hoping to have this kind of performance, especially the opening two sets,” Djokovic said after the win over Kuznetsov. “Everything went as I planned and wished and hopefully I can stay on this path.
“Kuznetsov is a very talented player. He’s still young, and he’s of the generation of my younger brother [Marko] who knows him well, so I spoke to him because I had not seen Kuznetsov play a lot.”
Verdasco advanced to this point with a four-set win over Britain’s James Ward (2-6, 6-0, 7-6, 6-3) in the first round and a straight-sets win over Japan’s Go Soeda (6-3, 6-2, 7-6) in the second. He’s a +1400 longshot to pull the upset.
After knocking off Soeda, Verdasco said, ‘It was a pretty good level and he said that to me afterwards. He produced at the big moments, but he’s going away thinking that if he plays me again this year it won’t be easy for him. I’m working hard and I’m stronger and fast[er] than I’ve ever been.”
Verdasco’s best result at the Aussie Open came in 2009 when he reached the semifinals.
The Spaniard actually has a very respectable 4-6 career record against Djokovic. However, three of those wins came on clay, and he hasn’t beaten the world No. 1 on hard court since their first ever meeting in 2005.
Don’t expect Verdasco to buck that trend tomorrow.