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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


Last week on the ATP Tour, unseeded Spaniard Carreno-Busta won his first main tour title since 2017 at Chengdu, which is his third career title in total. He defeated the talented Bublik from Kazakhstan in a tense, high quality marathon final that ended 6-7 6-4 7-6. The other tournament in China last week at Zhuhai was won by Aussie NextGen star De Minaur, who defeated Frenchman Mannarino in yesterday’s final, and this was his third title in total, all won this season.

On to this week’s ATP Tour action and there are two ATP 500 events at Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan. Beijing has attracted a decent field with five of the world’s top ten stars in action like top seed and world number five Thiem, second seed and world number six Alexander Zverev, third seed and world number seven Tsitsipas and sixth seed and world number ten Bautista Agut. Shock 2018 winner Basilashvili who was unseeded returns to defend his title, he’s unseeded again and will attempt to defend a second title of the 2019 season having defended his Hamburg ATP 500 title during the summer.

At the ATP 500 Japan Open World number one and top seed Djokovic lines, up for the first time since disappointing at this year’s US Open and he will aim to end the year strongly, as Nadal currently leads the Race to London by over 2000 points and he’s only 600 points behind Djokovic in the world rankings. Djokovic is the only top ten player in action at Tokyo, but there are two top twenty players lining up, Coric and 2017 winner Goffin. Former top ten-star and US Open winner Cilic, French stars Paire and Pouille and Zhuhai finalist (at time of writing) De Minaur add further quality to a decent field. Defending champion Medvedev does not line up to defend his title after a hectic summer hard-court schedule.

I’ll start with Beijing and the top seed has an excellent record having won seven of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2017) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (Del Potro 2018), which bodes well for Thiem’s chances this week. However, it must be noted that Djokovic (5), Nadal (1) and Murray (1) all won the Beijing title as the top seed over the last decade and it’s safe to say Thiem falls some way short of matching their hard court credentials, which puts me off advising him as a result.

The second seed has experienced little success at Beijing over the last decade winning one of the last ten titles (Djokovic 2009) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which does not bode well for Zverev’s chances this week. Seeded players have a strong record at Beijing and a player seeded no higher than three won nine of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2017) and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist eight times during this period (last Nadal 2015). Finally, unseeded players don’t have a great record at Tokyo winning one of the last ten titles (Basilashvili 2018) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Dimitrov 2016).

From a tournament winner betting perspective all past statistics suggest siding with seeded players apart from the second seed, however, looking at this year’s top stars and seeds, none have the type of confidence or form heading into this tournament that suggests they will be challenging for the title this week, apart from maybe fifth seed Bautista Agut, seventh seed Monfils and eight seed Berrettini.

Moving on to Tokyo and the top seed has experienced some success winning three of the last ten titles (last Wawrinka 2015) and they were a losing finalist once during this period (Nadal 2011). The second seed has not performed that well at Tokyo winning two of the last ten titles (last Murray 2011) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which does not bode well for Corics’ chances this week. Seeded players overall have a very strong record; a player seeded no higher than eight won nine of the last ten titles (last Goffin 2017) and a player seeded no higher than six was a losing finalist seven times during this period (last Nishikori 2018).

Unseeded players have not experienced much success at Tokyo over the last decade has never won a title during this period and they were a losing finalist twice (last Mannarino 2017). From a tournament betting perspective, the best strategy looks to be siding with seeded players, except the second seed given their disappointing record.


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