High quality field in Washington this week
With last week's event in Atlanta seeing the commencement of the US summer hard court season, the main focus this week is the Washington 500 event, which at around $2m offers considerably the most prize money of this week's three events.
The format in the American capital is a strange 48 man field, with 16 first round matches and 16 players receiving first round byes, and the prize money has attracted a decent quality field, with Dominic Thiem top seed among four top ten players.
Conditions expected to be quick, and similar to Atlanta last week
Conditions at Rock Creek Park are expected to be very quick indeed, with 83.9% of service games being held in the last three years at the venue - over 4% above the ATP hard court mean, and decent servers certainly benefit with a high 0.69 aces per game count.
On this basis, it's pretty fair to assume that conditions will be very similar to those experienced at Atlanta this week, where John Isner took the title at his second home - his second consecutive title in as many weeks. While this form is an obvious positive for the big American, it should be tempered by the fact that the quality of his opponents in the last fortnight has been extremely weak, and he may be getting fatigued.
Despite conditions being similar to those in Georgia, the recent event winners don't fit quite as neatly into the American, big-server profile, although big-servers have claimed five titles in the last ten years - Andy Roddick, Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro (on three occasions). Isner has been runner-up three times, while Ivo Karlovic and Vasek Pospisil also are big-servers who have lost in the final in recent years.
Fitness doubts around many of the market leaders
Even with the slight bias towards big-servers, we can certainly swerve Raonic and Del Potro, despite their venue success - both have questionable fitness while Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori also fit into this category. Top seed Thiem has performed much worse post-Wimbledon in his young career so far, almost definitely due to his arduous scheduling resulting in fatigue in the latter stages of the season.
This leaves us with the likes of Kevin Anderson, Alexander Zverev, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Grigor Dimitrov, Gilles Muller and the aforementioned Isner as the big-servers with a realistic chance of success, and of these, it is Dimitrov (2017 combined hold/break on hard court of 113.7%) and Zverev (106.6%) with the best hard court data this year.
Dimitrov with high expectations based on strong data
However, in the case of the younger Zverev brother, available at 15/2, his data is flattered by key point over performance, and on this basis, Dimitrov at 14/1 looks a better choice at bigger odds, with Sock (105.0%) another worth looking at in further detail given he has under-performed by 5.7% on break points on return on hard courts this year, and therefore should have plenty of upside - the American is available at 14.50 on the Exchange.
Assessing the draw, Dimitrov's segment features Steve Johnson as the seed, and contains dangerous young prospects Daniil Medvedev, Reilly Opelka, Hyeon Chung and Kyle Edmund, but he'd be a heavy favourite against all of these. He'd then be likely to face either Alexander Zverev or Nick Kyrgios - who is almost certainly not fully fit - and is in the bottom half of the draw with fellow fitness doubts Del Potro and Nishikori.
Given this, the draw could easily open up for the Bulgarian and he can be backed at 14/1 to take the title - he shouldn't fear anyone in this field.
Weak event anticipated in Los Cabos
The other hard court event this week takes place in Los Cabos, Mexico, a purpose-built tourist hot-spot, and the quality of the field is utterly woeful, with many players ranked over the 100 mark being able to take spots in the main draw.
Tomas Berdych, at 11/5, is the event favourite, with Sam Querrey and defending champion Ivo Karlovic slightly further back in the betting. Fernando Verdasco, Adrian Mannarino and Albert Ramos are further market contenders.
With the event new on tour last year, we have a smaller sample than ideal to work with regarding assessing court speed, but 80.1% of service games were held in 2016, slightly higher than the ATP hard court mean, and with the aces per game count marginally higher than average too, I'm happy to grade venue conditions slightly faster than average, and unlikely to particularly benefit any specific player genre.
I'm rather unenthused by the market prices on players here, with no outstanding value, although the 33/1 on Taylor Fritz could provide some interest this week if the young American gets back to his best.
Alpine specialist Haase with potential in Kitzbuhel
Back in Europe, the Alpine town of Kitzbuhel plays out the final clay court event of the season, and at almost 800m above sea level, altitude comes into play. Despite this, there is little historical evidence of this fact when looking at data on serving - just 73.4% of service games have been held at the venue in the last three years - and any effects certainly are not as profound as in tournaments such as Bogota or Quito in South America.
Field quality is stronger this year than is often the case, with few players historically being keen on prioritising a European clay event with the main American hard court swing starting next week.
Robin Haase has taken advantage of this, with a magnificent 13-3 venue record here, winning in consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, and performed well in similar conditions in Gstaad last week, making the semi-finals. With good clay data this year (107.4% combined hold/break percentage) he looks to be a very solid outside pick at 12/1 with the Sportsbook. The out of form duo of Santiago Giraldo and Carlos Berlocq stand in the way of the Dutchman and a potential quarter-final with defending champion Paolo Lorenzi.
Fitness doubts surround tournament favourite Cuevas
This quarter is the second in the draw, in the same half as the top seed and 5/1 tournament favourite Pablo Cuevas, and I'm viewing this as a huge positive also - since missing the entire grass season with injury, the Uruguayan has yet to win a match on his favoured clay, losing to Henri Laaksonen in Bastad, and Andrey Kuznetsov last week in Bastad. Cuevas, this year, has also not hit the heights of his 2015 and 2016 clay campaigns, and doesn't look to represent much value at this price.
In the bottom half of the draw, 2015 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber - another with a solid venue record - is unlikely to be fit after he retired with a muscle injury in his semi-final defeat to Florian Mayer in Hamburg on Saturday, and Jiri Vesely could take advantage in a weak quarter - although odds of 13.50 about the Czech don't particularly represent huge value, in my opinion.
Finally, in the bottom quarter, second seed Fabio Fognini, at 13/2, has a tricky-looking bracket, with Andrey Kuznetsov, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Jan-Lennard Struff and another altitude specialist Thomaz Bellucci all obvious threats. The Italian has shown some ability in past years regarding backing up a tournament win with another, but this price doesn't strike me as being particularly noteworthy.
Back Grigor Dimitrov at 14/1 to win ATP Washington
Back Robin Haase each-way at 12/1 to win ATP Kitzbuhel
Home » tennis » Tips for betting » ATP Tour Week 24: Dimitrov with little to fear in Washington
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