Ten first-round matches kick off the action on day one of the Paris Masters, and returning to discuss the action, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

Plenty to play for in Paris over the coming week

Paris Masters is the final tournament for most players this season, but there's still plenty to play for, with some on the cusp of Australian Open seeding, while some will still need to secure their place in the first Grand Slam of 2019. In addition, qualification for the Tour Finals is still up for grabs for several players - as discussed in this week's outright preview - so despite a rather 'end of term feel', there should be plenty of motivation across the field.
Today's matches get started at 10am UK time, and in truth, it's quite a tough card. My model only really liked two spots - John Millman against Nikoloz Basilashvili, and Robin Haase for his meeting with Phillip Kohlschreiber.

Basilashvili's data showing variance has been his friend

The first of these two matches is a tough spot, with Millman's price inflated by Basilashvili's recent results, which have him running at 16-7 across the last three months. Initially, my thoughts were that my model wasn't hugely valuing Basilashvili's recent form, but a look at his data in those matches indicates that perhaps this isn't the case.
A player winning 70% of main draw tour matches in three months, including winning two titles, would be expected to have data running in excess of 105% combined hold/break percentage, if not higher. However, this isn't the case for the Georgian, who is running at just 101.9% in this time period, and just a 99.2% combined service/return points won percentage.
He's running at 5.7% over expectation for saving break points, and 2.3% above expectation for converting return points in this time period, so it's definitely fair to suggest that variance has been a big factor in Basilashvili's success, and that mean reversion will correct this recent 'run of form' for Basilashvili in the near future.
My problem here is that Millman hasn't performed well since his shock run to the US Open quarter-finals, but the 2.58 available on the Australian does look a decent enough price.

Kohlschreiber over-rated following mediocre few months

I also feel that Kohlschreiber is over-rated, against Robin Haase. The German is just 8-10 from the French Open onwards, and at 35 years of age, could be in age-related decline. However, opponent Haase, until qualifiers this week, was on a six-match losing run - hence another tough spot.
Despite a poor 5-8 record indoors in the last 12 months, Haase's data is better than these results, running at just over 100% combined, and I think he's a better player than this record suggests. Over several years indoors, Kohlschreiber's return data is poor, breaking opponents just 16% of the time.
As with Millman, I feel the 2.48 about the Dutchman looks decent value, but there are some concerns too - certainly, I'd advise caution regarding staking today.

Krajinovic defending big ranking points against Khachanov

Most big names don't take to the courts until tomorrow, but last year's runner-up, Filip Krajinovic, is a heavy 3.60 underdog against the improving Russian prospect, Karen Khachanov, while Roberto Bautista-Agut takes a 5-0 head-to-head lead into his meeting with Steve Johnson.

Humbert on an upward ability curve

In addition, we see Joao Sousa - usually pretty competent indoors - face Marco Cecchinato, who is poor away from clay, while the rapidly improving Ugo Humbert is a slight underdog against compatriot, Adrian Mannarino.
While this 1.87 price on the more experienced Frenchman, Mannarino, looks generous based on rankings and reputation, it's not when hold/break data is considered. It's also worth noting that the wild-card, Humbert, has reached five Challenger finals since the summer and is clearly a player on an upward ability curve.
Back Robin Haase at 2.48 to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber

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