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  • Keith Sobey

Tennis


Last week on the ATP Tour qualifier Nikolay Basilashvili made it third time lucky winning his first ATP Tour title at the ATP 500 Hamburg tournament, after losing his previous two finals at Kitzbuhel back in 2016 and at Memphis last year. At Gstaad NextGen star Berrettini from Italy won his maiden ATP Tour title beating favourite and second seed Bautista Agut in Sunday’s final and at Atlanta UPDATE ATLANTA FINAL

On to this week’s ATP Tour action and it’s a busy week again with three ATP tournaments taking place in North and South America and Europe. The US Open Series Hard Court swing continues in Washington DC, USA and Los Cabos, Mexico and in Europe the clay court season comes to an end at Kitzbuhel, Austria. Washington is an ATP 500 event and surprisingly there has been no American winner over the last decade and only three finalists during this period (Roddick 2009 and Isner 2013 and 2015). Europeans and players from Argentina each won four of the last ten titles (Del Potro three), and two players from the rest of the world won the other two titles. Washington has attracted a strong field this year that includes four top-ten players, as well as Grand Slam winners Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who are both on the come-back trail after long injury lay-offs.

Los Cabos, Mexico is a new tournament that commenced in 2016, its been dominated by the top-three seeds so far and big servers who adopt aggressive tactics like 2016 winner Karlovic and 2017 winner Querrey. It’s attracted a competitive field with Del Potro, Fognini, Querrey, and Dzhumur to name a few and Del Potro will be difficult to beat given his record on hard courts in North and South America. Kitzbuhel is the last clay court tournament of the 2018 season and like Gstaad it’s played at Altitude. It suits big serving, aggressive experienced clay courters from Europe, as this type of player won six of the last ten titles, or a player from Argentina as they won three of the last ten titles but the last was Del Potro in 2008.

I’ll kick things of in North America and at Washington the top seed doesn’t have a great record over the last decade winning only one of the last ten titles (last Del Potro 2013) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Monfils 2011), which doesn’t bode well for defending champion Sascha Zverev’s chances this week. The second seed has a much better record over the last decade winning six of the last ten titles (last Monfils 2016) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. Seeded players in general have a strong record at Washington and a player seeded no higher than five won eight of the last ten titles (last A Zverev 2017) and a player seeded no higher than fifteen was a losing finalist eight times during this period (last Anderson 2017). Unseeded players don’t have a great record at Washington over the last decade winning two of the last ten titles (last Stepanek 2011) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (last Troicki 2008).

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with a player seeded five or below, who is not from America and is a big server and who has an aggressive game, or a similar player who is seeded fifteen or below. Second seed Isner would have been of interest given the record of the sixth seed over the last decade but he was due to play the Atlanta final last night, which is a negative. Also, the second seed has never been a losing finalist and an American player has never won the title during this period, which is enough to put me off backing Isner this week.

Players who fit the profile and have a good chance of winning and/or reaching the final this week are seventh seed and 2015 winner Nishikori (price tbc), who usually plays his best tennis on North American hard courts, eighth seed Chung (price tbc), who impressed on his return from injury at Atlanta last week, and twelfth seed Khachanov (price tbc) because his big serving aggressive style of play should be well suited to the quick conditions.

Moving on to the final clay court tournament of the season at Kitzbuhel and like the majority of ATP 250 events the top-two seeds have a poor record over the last decade. The top-seed has won none of the last ten titles, they were a losing finalist once during this period (Kohlschreiber 2012), which does not bode well for Thiem’s chances this week. The second seed has an identical record to the top seed over the last decade having never won the title, and they were a losing finalist once during this period (Monaco 2013), which does not bode well for defending champion Kohlschreibers chances this week.

Seeded players in general have a strong record at Kitzbuhel over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than nine won eight of the last ten titles (last Lorenzi 2016) and a player seeded no higher than ten was a losing finalist six times during this period (last Thiem 2014). Unseeded players also have a good record at Kitzbuhel winning three of the last ten titles (last Kohlschreiber 2017) and they were a losing finalist four times during this period (last Sousa 2017).

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest opposing the top two seeds and siding with a seeded player from three to eight, or an unseeded player, who is talented, experienced and a big serving aggressive type of player. Seeded players who fit the profile are third seed Verdasco, fourth seed and two-time Kitzbuhel champion Haase and eighth seed and 2016 semi-finalist Lajovic. Unseeded players who fit the profile are qualifier Klizan, Djere, qualifier Hanfmann, Carballes Baena, and veteran Kukushkin.

From this group of players, I’ll side with fourth seed Haase (22/1) as he loves playing here having won the tournament twice and the conditions suit his game well. Qualifier Klizan (price tbc) cruised through qualifying and if he can take that momentum and play anywhere near his best this week he will be difficult to beat. Veteran Kukushkin (100/1) also appeals as he’s been in good form this summer and his experience and aggressive style of play should make him difficult to beat this week.

As Los Cabos is a new tournament that only commenced last season there’s obviously little historical statistics to go on and to help reduce the number of selections I’ll not provide any for Los Cabos this year.

From a first round match betting perspective I like a handful of matches that will hopefully return a profit. At Washington I think Basic will beat Copil as he leads the head-to-head 3-1, he won the last three matches and all four matches were on hard courts between 2015 and 2018. Sticking at Washington and I think American Wild Card Smyzcek is playing well enough to beat Berankis and he also leads the head-to-head 3-1 with all four matches being played on hard courts. Finally, I think fifth seed Simon at Kitzbuhel should be able to beat Gstaad winner Berrettini as its unlikely Berrettini is going to be 100% up for and focussed on this match having won his first ATP Tour title and Simon also leads the head-to-head 1-0 which adds further confidence.

Selections:

Tournament

Washington

Nishikori (14/1)

Khachanov (25/1)

Match betting

Double (3.19)

Simon to beat Berrettini

Smyczek to beat Berankis

Basic to beat Copil (10/7)


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