Player fatigue from Davis Cup worth considering
This weekend’s Davis Cup matches meant that there was a rest from ATP Tour action in the past seven days, although this period certainly wasn’t a rest for several players, with the likes of Richard Gasquet (flying from Japan) and Dan Evans (Canada) having an extremely arduous playing and travelling schedule over the past few days.
After Davis Cup weeks, bettors should always be aware of player’s national team commitments, as my research indicated a huge general drop-off in level for players following a compressed period of playing and travelling in two continents.
On this basis, the Frenchman, Gasquet, can easily be swerved in Montpellier – despite him winning three of the previous four events here in the south of France – and his status as third favourite at 9/2 with the Sportsbook is a little surprising given his lack of aptitude for tough spots throughout his career as well.
Medium-Fast Conditions and Top-Player Friendly Venue in Montpellier
This tournament – which has medium-fast conditions, with mean service hold numbers and aces per game a little above the ATP Indoor Hard mean – has generally has seen success for the bigger name players, with a top five seed taking the title every year since its inception in 2010, although there have been some smaller names making the final – the unseeded Paul-Henri Mathieu achieved this feat last year.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leads the field from a hold/break perspective, holding serve 89.9% on hard or indoor hard courts in the last 12 months, and breaking opponents 22.1% (combined 112.0%) and Gasquet’s countryman also leads the betting at a current 7/2, with Marin Cilic (combined 108.0%) in second place in both the hold/break stats and the market. Alexander Zverev joins Gasquet, Tsonga and Cilic as players priced sub 10/1 in the market.
Given the historical success but lack of value surrounding the better players in the field, my preferred route here would be to look for an underdog to back at large prices pre-tournament with the Sportsbook, whilst retaining the option of laying them at a lower price (either outright or in the match odds markets) during the event on the Exchange.
Long-shot Mischa can take advantage of a weak draw
After his run to the final in Chennai in week one of this season, I wrote that Daniil Medvedev would never be priced up as big as 50/1 to win a 250 event, but the Russian is at that level with most bookmakers this week. However, this is likely to be due to his retirement against Novak Djokovic in the Davis Cup on Friday, after he took the first set from the world number two. I like Medvedev a lot, but there are better spots than this week.
The older, but less illustrious Zverev brother, Mischa Zverev, is my choice. He opens against a jet-lagged Evans, before a second round match against either Ilya Marchenko or the young French wild-card, Quentin Halys, who is usually found on the lower Challenger Tour. Furthermore, a likely fatigued Gasquet would be Mischa’s likely quarter-final opponent, and there is a lot of upside to taking a position on the 28/1 about the German this week.
I’d definitely consider laying Zverev on the Exchange should he get to the latter stages, as we’ll be guaranteeing ourselves a profit given we’ll be holding a big-price win ticket.
Sofia slower than Montpellier
ATP Sofia was a new event on the calendar last season, and the data from last year shows that conditions are a touch slower than medium, with fewer service games held than the Indoor Hard ATP mean in 2016, as well as there being 0.06 aces per game less too.
The Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut, took the title, and he returns this year, and leads the field from a combined hold/break perspective (108.7%) and it would be foolhardy for anyone to rule him out given his propensity to perform well in these indoor 250 events. He’s available at 6/1 with the Sportsbook or [7.2] with the Exchange at the time of writing.
Bautista-Agut receives a bye in the opening round, along with the other top seeds David Goffin, Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem, and this trio also complete the top four players statistically as well.
Having said this, I’ve made the point several times recently that Dimitrov has significantly over-performed on break points in 2017 so far, and mean reversion is likely for the Bulgarian, and I’d expect him to offer very little value in the coming week, or the short-term.
Open tournament offers little value
Despite the top four players statistically receiving byes, Sofia looks to be quite an open tournament with just 5.2% combined hold/break percentage separating the top player, Bautista-Agut with the fifth and sixth, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gilles Muller, respectively.
The big-serving Muller would be worth considering in an indoor 250 generally, although I’m surprised he didn’t choose to take advantage of the quicker conditions in Montpellier. Muller’s tournament selection again raises the question of whether players actually make scheduling decisions with maximum expected value.
Kohlschreiber received a virtual bye in the first round – he opens against the bizarrely awarded Turkish wild-card, Cem Ilkel – before a very winnable second round match against either Robin Haase or another wild card, Dimitar Kuzmanov, who is not even really at the Challenger Tour level (although did take a set from Ricardas Berankis last year). A quarter-final against the over-rated Dimitrov looks likely, although I’d probably prefer bigger than the [20.0] about the ageing German given that he is also in Bautista-Agut’s half of the draw.
All things considered from an outright perspective, I feel that there are better tournaments to get involved with than Sofia.
Understanding effects of altitude vital in Quito
This week’s final event sees the start of the clay season, which is a part of the calendar that I particularly enjoy. However, most of the South American clay events are played in extremely different, much slower, conditions to those in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, which offers extreme assistance for serve-orientated players at around 3,000 metres above sea level.
The effect of this altitude is profound when considering the historical data in Quito – in the two years that the tournament has been running, main draw matches at the venue have seen 81.3% of service games held – 4.9% above the ATP clay court mean in the last 12 months. Furthermore, my assertion was rubber-stamped with there being 0.53 aces per game, significantly higher than the 0.37 aces per game across all main draw clay matches in the last 12 months.
Estrella unbeaten in Ecuador
Victor Estrella historically looks the man to beat this week, with the Dominican clearly revelling in conditions, amassing an incredible 10-0 record in Quito having won both events here so far. It is indicative of the effect of these conditions that Estrella has managed this, given that he is an extremely mediocre player generally, and if he is to claim a hat-trick, will need to reverse the form which has seen him lose seven of his last nine ATP main draw matches.
However, despite his general mediocrity, Estrella – in large part due to his exploits here last year – leads the field from a clay court hold/break perspective, and must be respected in the coming week, although a second-round clash with Ivo Karlovic, is certainly not what the ‘doctor’ ordered.
Bellucci another who thrives at altitude
Thomaz Bellucci is another player who has a magnificent altitude record and the Brazilian – who receives an opening round bye – is currently available at 9/1 to go one better than last year, where he was beaten by Estrella in a tight match.
Other threats come from Janko Tipsarevic, the former top ten player who is fighting his way back up the rankings following a long-term injury, the talented but inconsistent, and injury prone, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Santiago Giraldo.
In my opinion, there is little chance that Tipsarevic has travelled to South America without wishing to give his best efforts, and as a serve-orientated player, he should benefit from conditions too. If it wasn’t for a second round match with Bellucci, whom I am relatively keen to keep onside, he would definitely be a player worth considering for our outright shortlist.
Monteiro a solid long-shot choice
Another player I am keen to keep onside in the next few months on clay is Thiago Monteiro. The 22 year old has just broken into the top 100 on the back of some impressive results on his favoured surface in Challengers in 2016 – he made three finals – and given the natural age related improvement, can go well in the near future. Monteiro is also somewhat serve-orientated, and this dynamic will be of assistance in the coming week.
Monteiro starts the event with two very winnable opening matches – he takes on the wild-card, Giovanni Lapentti, in the first round, before facing either Rogerio Dutra Da Silva or a qualifier. Albert Ramos is a likely quarter-final opponent, and Monteiro should prefer taking on the Spaniard, Ramos, despite Ramos’ strong ‘traditional’ clay court stats, than several other seeded players who should enjoy conditions in Ivo Karlovic or Bellucci. As a long-shot, there are many worse than the Brazilian if you can get an offer matched at around [24.0] on the Exchange.
Back Mischa Zverev to win ATP Montpellier at 28/1
Back to Lay Thiago Monteiro to win ATP Quito at [24.0] on the Exchange