The Paris Masters moves into the third round stage today with 16 players left to fight for the title and Dan Weston is tipping up his pre-tournament selection...
Race to London hotting up
The Race to London for the ATP Tour Finals is hotting up, with the likes of Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini defeated yesterday, which essentially means it is between Alexander Zverev, Berrettini and Gael Monfils for the final two spots. Stan Wawrinka can also qualify, but needs to lift the trophy, and he's a heavy underdog against Rafa Nadal later on today - more on this later.
Shapovalov capable of shocking Zverev
Yesterday, Berrettini was defeated by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and I did think that the market was priced in his 'need to win', which is often a dangerous game across numerous sports. This is again in evidence today with Zverev a very short-looking1.42 against Denis Shapovalov, who we look at as an extremely long-odds outright option.
Their quarter three of the draw has opened up after the withdrawal of Roger Federer and I'm surprised to see Shapovalov as big as3.25 on the Exchange when he has shown clear ability indoors, running at almost 70% service points won and 36% return points won (106% combined). If it wasn't for a poor tiebreak record, his already strong win percentage indoors this year would likely be even better.
These numbers are in excess of what Zverev can boast indoors. Across this year, he's barely played on the surface but in 2018 he ran at 104% combined, and didn't even reach 100% in 2017 despite having a positive win-loss record.
In addition, the quicker conditions - Paris is graded by me as medium-fast for an indoor court, which is already one of the quicker surfaces on tour - are likely to be more to the Canadians liking, given his more serve-orientated dynamic and the question is how to extract the best value.
I'm absolutely fine with either Shapovalov for the match win today or receiving 3.5 games on the game handicap as well, which should settle in the high 1.70s in the run-up to the match on the Exchange. For today's recommendation, though, I'm going with Shapovalov at a big underdog price.
Tsitsipas looking short-priced for De Minaur clash
Moving on, in the past, I've mentioned that I find Stefanos Tsitsipas often over-rated by the markets and while his indoor record this year is better than outdoors, it would be tough to make a case for him being value at 1.68 against another improving young player in Alex De Minaur, who could easily be among those contending for a Tour Finals berth this time next year.
Chardy should be too good for Garin
In other matches, I think that the favourite that offers the best value is Jeremy Chardy at 1.60 over Christian Garin - the Frenchman has simply achieved much more than the Chilean indoors, and his numbers this year are still better on the surface despite his advancing years and Garin's general improvement - while the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are again heavy favourites to progress.
Wawrinka with historical struggles ahead of Nadal meeting
Nadal takes an 18-3 head to head lead into his meeting with Stan Wawrinka and has won their last five meetings in straight sets, so it would be reasonable to assume that Wawrinka will need to overcome mental hurdles as well as simply an ability differential against an elite level opponent. In their three meetings in the last three years, Wawrinka has won just 53% of service points and just over 30% of games competed - he will have to dramatically improve his service numbers today if he is to stand any chance of an upset victory at4.40.