The tennis action ramps up this week in Dubai and Acapulco as the top players prepare themselves for back to back Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami. Nadal, Dimitrov, Zverev, Thiem and Nishikori are among the names in action this week.
ATP Dubai Preview
This tournament boast a winner’s list to rival any event. Dating back to 2013 Federer has claimed the title 7 times, Djokovic 4 with Nadal, Wawrinka, Roddick and Murray once each. None of them have made their way to the Middle-East this week with veteran Marcos Bacghdatis the only player in the draw to have made the final here. On paper this title is Dimitrov’s to lose!
Stefanos Tsitsipas v Mikhail KukushkinFormer junior number 1 Tsitsipas is finding out just how big the jump is from Challenger level to the ATP Tour. He has lost his last 5 main draw matches and it is his struggles returning serve which have cost him. He has gone the distance in 4 of those 5 losses and The Wolf expects him to go get back into the winner’s circle. Kukushkin has been winning just 65% of his 1st serve points this season – a very low number! That should allow Tsitsipas the opportunity to break serve so take him in the H2H. Best Bet: Tsitsipas WIN ($1.62)
Marcos Baghdatis v Viktor TroickiIt’s early in the season but Troicki could slide out of the top 100 if his recent poor run continues. He has bowed out in the opening round in 11 of his 19 tournaments and facing a fellow veteran who has caused him troubles in the past. Baghdatis has won 5 of their 8 clashes including their one and only meeting here back in 2016. Troicki has the power to hit through Baghdatis but we have not seen him find any sort of consistency over the last 6 months and The Wolf expects his frustrations to take over in critical stages. Best Bet: Baghdatis -0.5 ($1.80)
Tsitsipas v Kukushkin
Tsitsipas WIN ($1.62)
Bautista-Agut v Mayer
Under 20.5 games ($1.80)
Baghdatis v Troicki
Baghdatis -0.5 ($1.80)
Nishioka v Paire
Paire WIN ($1.53)
ATP Acapulco Preview
The big news this week is the return of Rafael Nadal and it will be interesting to see how his body holds up. This tournament was played on clay for the better part of two decades with the who’s who in clay court tennis added their names to the list. A list that includes Kuerten, Nadal, Moya, Almagro and Ferrer. 2014 brought about a significant change with the tournament now being played on hard courts. Consequently we have seen he likes of Dimitrov and Querrey claim the title with Kevin Anderson and Tomic making runs to the final.
This is arguably the best field we have seen here with Nadal, Zverev, Thiem, Nishikori and Del Potro all in the draw. The power hitters have done well here in recent years on the back of warm and very fast conditions. It spells danger for Nadal who is in the same part of the draw as Querrey, Sock and Anderson. A title winning run will see him return to number 1 but The Wolf can see him getting blown off the court.
John Isner v Ryan HarrisonIn case you didn’t know, Ryan Harrison struggles against big servers. Just look at his losses in 2018… Kyrgios, Cilic, Karlovic and Opelka – all men who’s games are built around a major serve. It comes as no surprise to see that Isner holds a 6-2 advantage in this series. He has won 16 of the 22 sets contested and 6 of the 8 tiebreakers played. The Wolf was close to rolling out all 5 chips for a Isner victory. Best Bet: Inser WIN ($1.53)
Andrey Rublev v David FerrerWe were on Rublev when he neat Ferrer earlier this year at the Australian Open and there is no reason why he cannot repeat that feat. Dimitrov, Tsonga and Monfils are the only men to beat him this season while for Ferrer the clock is winding down. He has lost his last 4 matches on tour and no longer has the speed and athleticism that he relied on for the better part of a decade. Rublev breaks serve at the rate of knots and he will cruise to victory in this one. Best Bet: Rublev -1.5 ($1.73)