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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


It was a case of close but no cigar overall for my outright tournament selections last week as Nishikori (5/1) at New York and Delbonis (40/1) at Buenos Aires both reached their respective semi-finals, but lost close three set matches against Anderson and Bedene respectively. At the time of writing Thiem (9/4) was through to the Buenos Aires final and he faces former GB player Bedene who is contesting his first ATP Final. Also, four of the five match betting selections advised on Monday all won so hopefully you followed them and made a profit. It was a good week for the top-seeds and veterans again last week with Federer aged 37 winning the Rotterdam title, Thiem winning in Buenos Aires and the top-two seeds Anderson and Querrey who are both now in their thirties contested the inaugural New York final.

On to this week ATP action and it’s another busy one with three events including another European indoor event at Marseille, France, the first outdoor North American hard-court event of the season at Delray Beach and the ATP 500 clay court event in the sunny realms of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We will start in Europe at Marseille and this year’s field is not as strong as previous years with no top-10 player in the line-up. Defending champion Tsonga does not line up this year, but Montpellier winner and finalist here in 2017 Pouille does take part. Also, French players have performed well at Marseille with five winners over the last decade and there are five French players in the draw this year and all bar Pouille, are unseeded this week and they are likely to be outsiders in the betting.

The top two seeds surprisingly have a poor record at Marseille over the last decade and the top seed has won the title only once over the last decade (2011) and has been a losing finalist once in this period (2013), which does not bode well for top-seed Bautista Agut chances this week. The second seed has won one of the last ten titles (2017) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (2014), which does not bode well for Wawrinka’s chances this week. Seeded players in general have performed well at Marseille over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five has won eight of the last ten titles (last Tsonga 2017) and a seeded player seeded no higher than eight has been a losing finalist six times over the last decade (last Pouille 2017). Unseeded players have also performed well at Marseille over the last decade winning two titles (last Kyrgios 2016) and they were a losing finalist four times in this period (last 2012).

As the top-two seeds have poor records at Marseille over the last decade I can’t side with top-seed Bautista Agut or second-seed Wawrinka this week. Statistics over the last decade suggest a player seeded no higher than five has a good chance and with French players performing well at Marseille over the last decade it makes third-seed Pouille of interest, especially as he’s in-form after winning the Montpellier title recently. However, at the available prices there is little value from a betting perspective so I’ll avoid him on this occasion. I can’t find a seeded player no higher than five to follow this week as their form does not warrant investing hard earned cash on them.

As French and unseeded players have performed well over the last decade I’ll side with a few experienced and unseeded French players this week. Benneteau (80/1) and Herbert (100/1) are both very talented, experienced and capable players indoors and if they can produce their best form this week and the top-seeds and tournament favourites fail to deliver then they are all capable of challenging for the title. Benneteau has reached no less than six ATP indoor finals during his career, including two on home soil (ten ATP finals in total and has never won an ATP title), while Herbert showed signs at Rotterdam and Montpellier that he’s starting to play well enough to mount a serious challenge this week

Over in North America at Delray Beach we have the first outdoor hard-court tournament of the season. Surprisingly home-grown players don’t have a good record with only three winners from the USA over the last decade (Fish 2009, Querrey 2016 and Sock 2017). This year’s tournament has attracted a fairly strong field with the likes of defending champion and top-seed Sock, second-seed and 2011 winner Del Potro, third seed, 2012 winner and New York finalist Anderson and fourth-seed, 2016 winner and New York finalist Querrey lining up for a shot at the title.

The top two seeds have a poor record at Delray Beach and the top seed has won one of the last ten titles (Fish 2009) and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last Raonic 2017)), which does not bode well for Sock’s chances this week. The second seed has never won the title over the last decade and they were a losing finalist once in this period (Karlovic 2010), which does not bode well for Del Potro’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have performed reasonably well at Delray Beach over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than seven has won five of the last ten titles (last Sock 2017) and a seeded player no higher than six was a losing finalist six times during this period (last Raonic 2017). There has also been a handful of surprise winners and finalists over the last decade and an unseeded player has won five titles over the last decade (last Querrey 2016) and there were five losing finalists during this period (last Ram 2016).

From a betting perspective I’m happy to oppose top-seed Sock and second-seed Del Potro this week given the record of the top-two seeds over the last decade and because Sock’s form so this season has been disappointing and he faces Raonic in the first round. Fifth Seed Kyrgios (11/2), who resides in the top-half of the draw, started the year in good form winning the Brisbane title and he should be competitive this week if his preparations have gone well having not played since the Australian Open. Ryan Harrison (50/1), who also resides in the top-half of the draw, also started the season well reaching the final at Brisbane, he won his first ATP title on home soil at Memphis last season and as he’s clearly in the best form of his career at present he is more than capable of challenging for the title this week, especially if the top-seeded players fail to perform.

From the bottom half of the draw American Next Gen star Fritz (50/1) could spring a surprise at big odds this week. He failed to capitalise on amazing start to his young career when he reached the final at Memphis in 2016 from qualifying, but he has struggled with injuries on and off since then and has spent most of his time competing on the Challenger Tour. However, he’s still only 20 years of age, he’s ranked in the top-100 at 86 and has started the 2018 well winning the Newport Challenger recently and the final of the Noumea Challenger the first week of the 2018 season. He is most at home on hard courts on home soil and has already proven he can raise his level and challenge for ATP titles, which make him a lively outsider this week.

Rio is the only clay ATP 500 event of the season and it’s a fairly new tournament that has been running for four seasons now. The tournament has attracted a strong field with three top-ten players taking part this week and they are top-seed and world number three Cilic, second seed, defending champion and Buenos Aires finalist Thiem and world number ten and third-seed Carreno-Busta. The top-seed has won one of the last four titles (last 2014) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. The second seed has won two of the last four titles (last 2016) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. A seeded player no higher than two has won three of the last four titles (last 2017) and a player seeded no higher than four was a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2017). An unseeded player has won one of the last four titles (2016) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2016).

From a betting perspective I’ll keep things simple at Rio and follow up with second-seed Thiem (7/2) again this week as the second-seed has won two of the last four titles, he’s clearly playing well enough having reached the final at Buenos Aires last week and he’s one of only a handful of top-players on the ATP Tour who is capable of winning back-to-back titles at this level on clay. From the top-half of the draw Pella (28/1), who is unseeded this week, is in good enough form to challenge for the title if the top-seeded players from the top-half of the draw fail to perform this week.

From a match-betting perspective as usual I’ll advise opposing some of the players who contested last week’s ATP Finals. At Rio opposing Bedene against Haider-Maurer in the first-round will hopefully prove profitable. At Delray Beach third-seed Anderson could struggle against Donskoy in his first-round match and fourth-seed Querrey faces one of my outright tips Fritz in the first-round and I would advise not opposing Querrey if you’ve backed Fritz outright as it would be a double-loss if he loses.


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