TENNIS: The world’s best warm-up in Australia ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year …


Hubert Hurkacz v Taylor Fritz, Friday 11pm

The world number nine and ten go into what could be one of the most entertaining matches of the inaugural United Cup so far, with both players off the back of a loss and likely eager to make amends.

This will be one of the most high-profile games at the tournament so far. These two had fantastic seasons in 2022, with the American number one, Taylor Fritz reaching his all-time highest ATP ranking of eight in October.

The highly talented players look very evenly matched on paper, with both men the same age at 25, the exact same height at 196 cm, and even entering the court with an even head-to-head score of 1-1.

It truly will be a tough match to predict, and purely comparing the stats of the players will not allow for enough of a conclusive impression of who could emerge victorious in the tie. Looking at recent form, however, may paint a clearer picture of who is better equipped to deal the decisive damage on the court.

Both Hubert Hurkacz and Fritz go into the match on the back of a loss, Hurcakz losing to Matteo Berrettini and Fritz being dealt his defeat by Cameron Norrie. Fritz, however, had won six games on the bounce before meeting Norrie, while Hurcakz has been struggling for consistent form since being knocked out of the US Open, winning just 11 out of 18 matches.

Reaching the Wimbledon quarter-final while Hurcakz was knocked out at the first time of asking, Fritz is our favourite to triumph in Australia and at 1.72 is good value for money when considering the form advantage he carries into the game.

Hurcakz comes in at 2.11, and while he certainly offers a high return, he may struggle to deal with the determination of the American.

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Magda Linette v Madison Keys, Saturday 00:20am

Winning her last six matches in a row, Magda Linette has rapidly climbed the WTA rankings since the halfway point of 2022 and looks to be continuing her hot streak into the New Year.

Only losing one out of her last 10, Linette is in a fine vein of form and will be fancying herself for victory here against the world number 11 who, while also playing good tennis, has not managed to match the heights of her opponent who will be flowing with momentum.

However, the duo did meet back in October and November, with both players taking a win each and showing just why this match will be an interesting one.

Keys’ win was the second time the two players met and levelled the head-to-head scores to 1-1, making this match very close to call. The two players’ accolades highlights who is better under pressure, and it shows that Keys should have the advantage over her adversary, having won six titles in her career to the older Linette’s three.

Looking at the form of Linette, but the history of keys, combined with her younger age of 27, certainly paints her as the favourite for victory.

She is the strong frontrunner with BETDAQ at 1.59, with Linette coming in at 2.48. Don’t let the odds sway you, as our hunch is that the 30-year-old Linette will be flying early in the tie and will have enough momentum to get comfortably on top, leaving Keys too much ground to make up.

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