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  • Keith Sobey

Tennis


The ATP Tour returns after a three week break due to the US Open and Davis Cup and there are two European ATP 250 Indoor tournaments taking place this week at Metz, France and St Petersburg, Russia. Reigning champions France stormed in to the finals thrashing Spain 3-0 and at the time of writing Croatia and the USA were locked in a finally balanced 2-2 encounter against Croatia. Croatia’s NextGen star Coric was due to face American NextGen star Tiafoe in the decider, which was sure to be a classic high energy, entertaining deciding rubber.

There was also good news for fans of GB Davis Cup tennis as they won their World Group relegation encounter against Uzbekistan 3-1 and the four first choice players all played a pivotal role in the success. Frist an emotional Dan Evans got GB off to the best start winning an epic five setter against the experienced veteran Istomin, but Uzbekistan hit straight back when Norrie lost his opening singles rubber in five sets against the little known Karimov. However, GB double team Murray and Ingot restored order on Saturday winning their doubles rubber before Norrie made amends on Sunday beating Fayziev in straight sets.

Both of this week’s tournaments at Metz and St Petersburg have attracted decent fields and at Metz 2016 winner Pouille, Nishikori, Tsitsipas, Gasquet and Tsonga make up a competitive field and at St Petersburg reigning champion Dzhumur, Thiem, Fognini, Khachanov, Bautista Agut, Shapovalov and Wawrinka all line-up for a shot at this week’s title.

I will start my analysis with the tournament at Metz and it’s not surprising it’s been a happy hunting ground for French players who won seven of the last ten titles (last Pouille 2016). The top-seed has quite a strong record having won three of the last ten titles (last Tsonga 2012) and they were also a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2016 Thiem), which bodes well for Nishikori’s chances this week. The second seed has not performed as well winning only one of the last ten titles (2013 Simon) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2015 Simon), which does not bode well for Tsitsipas’s chances of winning this week. Seeded players in general have performed well at Metz over the last decade; a player seeded no higher than eight won nine of the last ten titles (last Pouille 2016) and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist nine times during this period (last Paire 2017).

From a tournament betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with a Third seed and 2016 champion Pouille (9/1) is a proven performer indoors on home soil and if he can repeat his 2016 form this week he has a strong chance of winning the title. Fourth seed Gasquet (7/1) still must be respected at this level indoors on home soil as he’s won eight ATP titles during his career and if he’s fit and raring to go I expect he will mount a serious challenge for the title. Finally, there’s one unseeded French player who stands out as a potential dark horse and winner. Herbert’s 9price tbc)serve and volley type game suits quicker indoor conditions well and having had plenty of wins at Challenger and ATP Tour level indoors already in his career, now could be the time of him to make the breakthrough and win his first ATP title and after all his hard work, support from French tennis and his family, friends and fans it would be fitting if he achieved this on home soil.

At St Petersburg reigning champion Dzhumur will attempt to become the first player win back-to-back St Petersburg titles for the first time since Andy Murray, who won in 2007 and 2008. The top seed has an average record at St Petersburg over the last decade winning only one of the last ten titles (last Murray 2008 Murray), and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Wawrinka 2016), which does not bode well for Thiem’s chances this week. The second seed does not have a great record at St Petersburg either, winning two of the last ten titles (last Raonic 2015) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (last 2011), which does not bode well for Fognini’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have a good record at St Petersburg and a player seeded no higher than six won seven of the last eight titles (last A Zverev 2016) and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist seven times over the last decade (last Fognini 2017). Unseeded players have also experienced some success at St Petersburg over the last decade winning three of the last ten titles (last Dzhumur 2017) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist three times during this period (last 2013 Garcia-Lopez).

From an outright tournament betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with a player seeded player no higher eight as a player seeded no higher than seven won seven of the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than eight lost seven of the last ten finals. Fourth seed Khachanov (8/1) is paying well enough to challenge for the title this week, if the nerves of playing in front of an expectant home crowd don’t overwhelm him. As unseeded players have experienced success at St Petersburg in the past its worthwhile highlighting a couple of players would spring surprises at big odds this week.

From the top-half of the draw the unseeded Basic (125/1) from Bosnia is a dangerous player at this level indoors in Europe as he proved at Moscow last year reaching the semi-finals from qualifying and he went one better this year winning the title in Sofia, Bulgaria. From the bottom half of the draw veteran Kizan (45/1) also must be respected at this level indoors in Europe as he’s already won two indoor titles during his career, the ATP 500 at Rotterdam back in back in 2016 and at St Petersburg back 2012. A return to that level of form should make him a serious outside challenger this week.

Selections:

Tournament Metz

Pouille Win (9/1)

Gasquet Win (7/1)

Herbert EW (100/1)

Tournament St Petersburg

Khachanov Win (8/1)

Basic EW (125/1)

Kizan Win (45/1)


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