Australian Open men’s singles round 2: Murray meets Groth
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | January 20, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Men’s singles round two
- Thursday, January 21st
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport 1 and 2
Murray main event on day four
Australian Open title second-favourite Andy Murray (5/1 with Coral) continues his charge towards a first success in the Grand Slam Down Under, as he next faces home hope Sam Groth.
While these two have never met before in a singles event, they did lock horns in the 2015 Davis Cup doubles, where Murray and his brother Jamie edged Groth and partner Lleyton Hewitt 3-2 on their way to reaching the final.
The Scot is the heavy 1/50 favourite to see off ATP world number 60 Groth (14/1) again, and a more enticing 1/4 shout to do so in straight sets after just ruthlessly smashing German teenager Alexander Zverev.
Former Aussie Rules player Groth, though, will be no pushover, having reached the third round in Melbourne before and also boasting the fastest ever recorded serve at 163.4 mph. Therefore, he is 7/1 to take Murray all the way in the first set, but lose 7-6.
Home hope Hewitt in last hurrah
After easily dispatching of compatriot James Duckworth in the opening round, retiring Hewitt (9/2 match outsider) will give his all to extend his career just a little longer, though takes on eighth seed David Ferrer (1/7 favourite).
Remarkably, this duo’s three meetings have come at Wimbledon, the French Open and US Open, so they will now complete the Grand Slam head-to-head set here in Australia.
Ferrer leads the veteran Australian 2-1, but all have gone to at least four sets. The Spaniard won 3-2 at Roland Garros in 2008 and, with renowned grinder Hewitt certain to fight throughout, back him for victory by that scoreline once more at 11/2.
Top seeds with tricky ties
Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic may have come through their respective battles against Dmitry Tursunov and Lucas Pouille without any trouble, but have now been handed potentially tricky ties with former top 10-ranked and Grand Slam quarter-finalist veterans.
Aussie Open champion in 2014 Wawrinka (1/12) have been drawn against 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek (13/2), who has in fact won five of their seven meetings.
The Czech’s last victory against the Swiss was back in 2009, though, so back the current fourth seed for a third straight triumph and to do so 3-1 at 11/4.
Rising star Raonic, meanwhile, will be hoping to avoid an upset against 33-year-old Tommy Robredo, who have reached seven Grand Slam quarters before, and once here in 2007.
The Canadian is also 1/12 to beat the Spaniard (13/2 too), and should come through this in straight sets (8/15) having never lost to him before in five clashes.
Others to look out for
Elsewhere, Fernando Verdasco (2/7) will be looking to get back to business after shocking fellow left-handed Spaniard Rafael Nadal as he takes on Israeli Dudi Sela (11/4).
There is also an intriguing all-French duel between the talented Gael Monfils (also 2/7) and consistent Nicolas Mahut (11/4), which is 11/4 to go to five sets.
Seeded trio Feliciano Lopez, John Isner and Aussie Bernard Tomic, meanwhile, are up against respective opponents Guido Pella, Marcel Granollers and Simone Bolelli.
Coral’s top tip: Murray may come through rapid server Groth in straight sets, but he is a more enticing 7/1 shout to edge the first in a tie-break.