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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


It was another breakthrough week for the NexGen and some of the forgotten journey men of the ATP Tour last weeks with plenty of shocks, upsets and fairy-tale stories. The last two weeks produced fairy-tale runs for Argentinian qualifier Londero, who was ranked outside the top-100 pre-tournament, at the inaugural ATP event at Cordoba and he won a remarkable eight straight games to reach his first ATP Tour final and best of all win his first main ATP Tour title. Not to be outdone the unseeded giant 6ft 11” American Opelka served his way to his first ATP Tour final and title at New York.

On to this week’s action and the trend of shocks, upsets and surprise results and finalists continued. At the time of writing the ATP 500 Rio through up plenty of shocks and surprises and the final was contested between two first time ATP Tour finalists. Nextgen finalists, world number 90 and 23 year-old Djere from Serbia had not hinted at a performance of this nature in recent seasons but he turned that on it’s head by reaching yesterday’s final without dropping a set and knocking out top-seed Thiem in the first round. His opponent in yesterday’s final was an even bigger surprise, 18 year-olds Canadian Nextgen star Aliasseme who produced an even more impressive run to Sunday’s final knocking out second seed Fognini and veteran multiple ATP Tour title winner Cuevas (advised 20/1) 6-3 3-6 6-3 in Saturday’s semi-final.

There were just as many shocks, surprises and upset at Delray Beach last week and it was great to witness British journeyman and qualifier Dan Evans, who not long returned from a drugs ban, put together a dream run and proved he’s still a world class force to be reckoned with by racing through qualifying and the main draw to reach his second ATP Tour final since Sydney 2017. The run was made even more impressive as he knocked out third seed and defending champion Tiafoe, sixth seed veteran Seppi and second seed Isner in Saturday’s semi-final. Evans was joined in the final by another shock contestant, 29 year old Albot from Moldova, who was contesting his first ever ATP Tour final for himself and country. Finally, at Marseille top-seed and NexGen star Tsitsipas saved grace for the world’s elite players this month by reaching the final without dropping a set and he’ll face shock finalists veteran Kukushkin. While there’s been plenty of upsets this week, it will be a big surprise if Kukushkin caused an upset and beat Tsitsipas on this occasion.

Moving on this week’s action and It’s another busy week on the ATP Tour with three tournaments, two of which are ATP 500 hard-court events at Dubai and Acapulco and the other is the final clay court tournament of the Golden Swing at Sao Paulo. Starting with Dubai and the tournament has attracted a strong field from a commercial perspective as seven time winner and arguably the greatest player of all-time Federer returns to the tour for the first time since playing at the Australian Open. Overall the tournament has attracted a stellar field with defending champion Bautista Agut and two further top ten players, world number six Nishikori and number ten Cilic, as well as five top-twenty stars Coric, Tsitsipas, Raonic and Medvedev.

The top four seeds have dominated the title over the last decade winning all ten titles, the top-seed has experienced limited success winning three titles over the last decade (last Murray 2017) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Djokovic 2015), which does not bode well for Nishikori’s chances this week. The second seed has performed better at Dubai over the last decade winning five of the last ten titles (last Wawrinka 2016), but they were never a losing finalist during this period, which improves Federer’s chances. Seeded players in general have a very good record at Dubai and a player seeded no higher than six has won the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist seven times during this period (last Djokovic 2015). Unseeded players have experienced limited success over the last decade and they’ve never won a title during this period and there were two losing finalists, Verdasco 2017 and Baghdatis 2016,

From a betting perspective it’s very tempting to side with second seed Federer based on the above statistics and because as at his best he’s a level above the rest of the field, however, judging by his Australian Open level, time away from the tour and a restrictive price I’m going to avoid him on this occasion. Instead I’ll opt for a few in form players who should relish the traditionally quick conditions in Dubai. Eighth seed Russian Medvedev (9/1) has been arguably the second best player on tour this season, he’s already won a title at Sofia, made a final at Brisbane (lost to Nishikori) and with conditions to suit there’s no reason why he won’t challenge for the title this week. As unseeded players have experienced success at Dubai over the last decade I’ll highlight a couple of talented players who are more than capable of making a mockery of their current rankings and going close to challenging for the title on Sunday. Three time Dubai champions, the unseeded French veteran Monfils (20/1), is improving in strides as his final run at Rotterdam two weeks ago suggests and with bis best form usually coming on outdoor hard courts with conditions likely to suit this week he’s more than capable of landing a second title this week. The same applies to Spanish star Bautista Agut (16/1) who is already a proven top-class at this level having won numerous tournaments, including at Dubai in 2018 and a repeat of that level of form should make him very competitive this week.

Moving on to the ATP 500 Acapulco, Mexico and it’s a newish tournament and this will be its sixth renewal. The ATP 500 Acapulco tournament has attracted a stellar field again with defending champion and world number four Del Potro, 2013 winner and world number two megastar Nadal, world number three Sascha Zverev and ninth seed Isner, to name but a few. Seeded players in general have dominated Acapulco over the last decade, however, surprisingly the top two seeds have poor records. The top seed has won none of the last five titles and they were only a losing finalist once during this period in 2013 (Nishikori), which does not bode well for Nadal’s chances this week.

The second seed a marginally better record winning one of the last five titles back in 2015 when Ferrer won and they were a losing finalist once during this period (Nadal 2105), which does not bode well for Zverev’s chances this week. Seeded players in general have a strong record at Acapulco and a player seeded no higher than six won four of the last five titles and a player seeded no higher than five was a losing finalist in the last five finals. An unseeded player won only one of the last five titles (Querrey 2017) and they were never a losing finalist during this period.

From a betting perspective I’m happy to swerve top-seed Nadal and second seed Zverev given the record of the top-two seeds over the last five seasons, there longish lay-offs and their overall form this season. Past statistics suggest siding with a player seeded from three-six and first up I’ll opt for third seed John Isner (12/1) from the top-half of the draw. He warmed up well reaching the semi’s at Delray Beach last week and with similar. Eighth seed American Nextgen star Tiafoe (25/1) has to be respected at this level on hard courts as he won his first tournament at Delray Beach this time last year and while he disappointed their last week, probably due to the pressure of defending the title in front of an expecting home crowd, he won’t experience any such pressure at Acapulco and with the shackles off I won’t be surprised if he is a totally different player compared to last week.

NextGen star Aussie De Minaur (12/1) is already a proven talent at this level, he excels on hard courts and the hot, quick conditions should suit his aggressive, combative style of play well.

Finally, 2016 winner, the unseeded veteran Wawrinka (14/1) is improving in strides as his final run at Rotterdam two weeks ago suggests and with bis best form usually coming outdoors on hard courts with conditions likely to suit again, he’s more than capable of landing a second title this week.

Sao Paulo has not attracted a top field in terms of the star’s big names, however, it’s still a competitive field with a good balance of proven veterans, NextGen stars and hardworking tour journeymen. Defending champion Fognini does not return to defend his title but there’s a nice mix of proven clay court veterans and journeyman and potential NextGen stars who have been putting up some eye catch performances in recent weeks.

The top seed has performed quite at Sao Paulo over the last decade, winning four of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2013), they were a losing finalist once during this period (last 2010), which bodes quite well for Sousa from Portugal’s chances this week. The second seed has a poor record at Sao Paolo winning only two of the last ten titles (last Fognini 218) and they were never a losing finalist during this period (Ramos-Vinolas (2017), which does not bode well for Jaziri’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have performed well over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five won nine of the last ten titles (last Fognini 2018), but there records not as good as finalists in general losing seven of the last ten (last Ramos-Vinolas 2017). Unseeded players haven’t had much title winning success over the last decade only achieving this difficult feat once (Delbonis 2014) but they have done well at reaching finals during this period achieving it seven times (last Jarry 2018).

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with the top-seed and/or a player seeded three to five or an unseeded player. Three time Sao Paulo winner and Wild Card veteran Cuevas (8/1) is worth siding with again this week after his semi-final run at Rio last week. He’s a prolific winner on the ATP clay tour and if he can improve on last week’s form he should be able to mount a serious challenge again this week. As unseeded players have also experienced plenty of success over the last decade it’s worth highlighting one or two that could spring surprises at decent odds. Spanish clay court expert Carbaelles Baena (28/1) has the talent and game to challenge for a title at this level as his 2018 title win at Cordoba last season proves and if he can build and improve on recent performances on the red dirt he could spring another surprise at decent odds this week.

Selections:

Tournaments:

Dubai

Medvedev @ 9/1

Monfils Win @ 20/1

Bautista Agut Win @ (16/1)

Acapulco

Isner Win (12/1)

Wawrinka Win (14/1)

De Minaur Win @ (16/1)

Tiafoe Win (18/1)

Sao Paulo

P Cuevas Win @ (8/1)

Carbaelles Baea @ (28/1)

Match bets

Dubai

Double @ (PRICE TBC)

Coric Win vs, Kukushkin

Khachanov Win vs. Basilashvili

Raonic vs. Struff – 1st Set Score = Tiebreak @ (PRICE TBC)

Ebden Win vs Tsitsipas @

Acapulco

Kyrgios vs. Seppi Over 22.5 Games (PRICE TBC)


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