Before I provide my previews for next week’s two ATP tournaments, I’ll provide q quick run down of last week’s season opening action at the Hopman Cup, Perth, Doha, Pune and Brisbane. Roger Federer now aged 37 showed no sign of slowing down by winning the Hopman Cup combined ATP and WTA tournament last week with Belinda Bencic for Switzerland. This is a perfect warm up for the Australian Open, which he’s won a joint record six times along with Djokovic and for the last two seasons and regardless of his age and the at times extreme conditions due to the heat he still must be considered a serious challenger again.
World number one and tournament favourite Djokovic fell short of winning a third Doha title as he was out played by the talented and underrated Spaniard Bautista Agut in the semi-finals. Bautista Agut Who was seeded seventh went on to win his first silverware of the 2019 season by beating veteran Berdych in the final on Saturday and with this solid preparation under his belt he should go well at the Australian Open which starts a week on Monday in Melbourne.
At Pune, top seed veteran Anderson justified favouritism by going one better than 2018 when he lost in the final to veteran Simon by beating the Frenchman in the semi-finals this time round and veteran Karlovic in a serve dominated final on Saturday 7-6 6-7 7-6. The win suggests Anderson is in great shape, which is a good sign with the Australian Open just round the corner and he must be considered as a potential challenger for the first Slam of the season based on his form over the last couple of seasons. At Brisbane the final was played in the early hours of this morning between Medvedev and Nishikori.
On to this week’s action and there are two ATP 250 tournaments being played in Sydney and Auckland, which both got underway in the early hours of Monday morning. With both tournaments being played the week before the Australian Open they have a history of throwing up plenty of upsets, surprises and big priced winners, and this has occurred most frequently at Sydney over the last decade.
The top two seeds don't have a good record at Sydney over the last decade and the top-seed has won one of the last ten titles (last 2014) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. The second seed has performed even worse over the last decade having never won the title or reached the final during this period, which does not bode well for top-seed Tsitsipas and defending champion Medvedev’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general don’t have a great record at Sydney over the last decade either, as a player seeded no higher than six won four of the last ten titles (last Muller 2017) and a player seeded no higher than four was a losing finalist only twice during this period (last Dimitrov 2016). However, unseeded players have a very good record at Sydney winning six of the last ten titles (last Medvedev 2018) and they were a losing finalist eight times during this period (last De Minaur 2018).
Judging by past statistics and tournament winners the best betting strategy looks to be opposing the top two seeds and going for a proven hard court veteran and/or a talented younger player who has form at this level on hard courts. From the top half of the draw Chardy (25/1)from France looks worth siding with as he’s an experienced veteran, he has winning form against top seed Tsitsipas and sixth seed Pouille on hard courts and finally, he also reached the semi-finals at Brisbane last week and will hopefully be able to go one better this week and at least reach the final.
From the bottom half of the draw it’s worth taking on second seed Medvedev because of the record of the second seed over the last decade at Sydney even though he’s carried forward his impressive 2018 form in to this season by making the 2019 Brisbane final at the time of writing. In terms of potential winners Aussie’s Millman (51/2), Klizan (33/1) and fifth seed and 2018 finalist De Minaur are all capable of challenging for the title this week and of the three Millman and Klizan appeal the most at the prices.
The only doubt is Millman’s current fitness state given how unlucky he’s been throughout his injury ravaged career, but he completed two matches at Brisbane last week that suggests he’s fully fit. Finally, Russian qualifier Rublev (price tbc) is also worth siding with if he qualifies as he’s more than talented enough, he knows what it takes having already won a main ATP tournament from qualifying and the momentum from qualifying should give him a competitive edge over the main draw players.
Over at Auckland the top-seed has an average record winning four of the las ten titles (last Ferrer 2013) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which statistically does not bode well for Isner’s chances this week, however, he should still be respected as he’s won this tournament twice back in 2014 and 2010. The second seed has a very poor record at Auckland having never won the title over the last decade, and they were a losing finalist only twice during this period (last Del Potro 2018), which does not bode well for Fognini’s chances this week.
Seeded players, in general, have a strong record at Auckland and a player seeded no higher than eight won eight of the last ten titles (last Bautista Agut 2018)) and a player seeded no higher than six was a losing finalist four times during this period (last Del Potro 2018). An unseeded player has only won two of the last ten titles (last 2015 Vesely) and they were a losing finalist six times during this period (last Sousa 2017).
Judging by past statistics and tournament winners the best betting strategy for Auckland this year looks to be siding with a proven veteran who is seeded and there are a couple of players I like who fit the bill if they play anywhere near their best this week. Top seed Isner (5/1) had his best season on the ATP Tour last year and he’s a proven performer at Auckland having won the tournament twice. From the bottom half of the draw it’s worth taking on Doha winner and fifth seed this week Bautista Agut this week as it’s unlikely he will be able to win back-to-back tournaments with a long haul flight in between and little recovery time. The player who stands out from this half is French veteran Monfils (12/1) as he’s got the serve and game to beat any of his potential opponents this week and is usually a top class performer at this level when he’s fit and healthy, which he will hopefully be this week.
Chardy Win (25/1)
Klizan Win (33/1)
Millman EW (51/2)
Rublev Win Only if qualifies (Price tbc)
Isner Win (5/1)
Monfils Win (12/1)
Hasse Win vs. Ferrer (11/10)
Mayer Win vs. Bautista Agut (14/5)
Pella Win vs. Gojowczyk (68/67)