ATP Tour Week One: Kecmanovic each-way value at a big price
The ATP Tour main season starts today in Doha, and with players looking to build up some form going into the Australian Open, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the week ahead...
No top ten player in Doha this season
While the ATP Cup started on Friday, we've had to wait until today for main tour action that isn't round-robin or team-based. With so many players competing in that event, there's only one main tour event this week and this takes place at ATP 250 level in Doha on hard court.
Looking at the list of winners across the previous decade, four years were won by elite level players - Roger Federer (2011), Rafa Nadal (2014) and Novak Djokovic (2016 and 2017) - but in fact, all the players who won the event were solid borderline top ten players. Andrey Rublev in 2018 apart, this has also been the case for runners-up as well.
However, it's going to be a struggle to maintain such a trend this year because the field looks markedly weaker - a symptom of numerous players preferring ATP Cup action instead for their preparation for the Australian Open - and this is highlighted by the top seed, Stan Wawrinka, being ranked 15th in the world and being the only top 20 player in the competition this year.
Conditions likely to be around medium-paced
If we look at historical data, conditions are likely to be very slightly below medium-paced for hard court with action getting underway at 12:30 UK time this afternoon. The aces per game count and service points won figures are very marginally below the ATP hard court mean throughout the last three years, but these numbers certainly nothing noteworthy. I expect the venue as a whole to play like an average hard court.
Given that there are no top ten players taking part, it's unsurprising that there is no overwhelming market favourite to lift the trophy. In a market which is yet to completely settle, the Exchange is struggling to separate Wawrinka 4.40and Rublev4.90 and looking at general market pricing, it's likely that both will go off slightly in excess of 5.00 eventually. Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are available at marginally bigger single-digit prices, while the remainder of the field should be able to be backed at around 20.00 or bigger.
No outstanding player in the field
A look at the data for the main contenders rubber-stamps the assertion that there is no outstanding player in the field:-
*Click on image to enlarge and open in a separate window
Milos Raonic has the best data (albeit from a small sample size for his last six months) but has been plagued with injury across the last couple of years, and I've made the point that the Canadian cannot be trusted not to pull out in the latter stages of tournaments as well. While he looks the best player in the field statistically, it's tough to make a case for him to be backed as close to the tournament favourite.
Having said that, it might be prudent to look for potential each-way value in the bottom half of the draw - avoiding Raonic until the final - and the seeded players with byes in this bracket are Tsonga and Rublev, who has a very kind draw in the final quarter featuring wild card Malek Jaziri, whose level dropped badly in 2019, and numerous clay-courters.
Kecmanovic offering potential each-way value
Tsonga's quarter looks a little more tricky, with the likes of Frances Tiafoe, Marton Fucsovics, Jordan Thompson and Miomir Kecmanovic all competent opposition, and it's the latter that I like as a long-shot prospect in the opening event of the season.
Kecmanovic reached the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP event to round off his 2019 breakthrough season to the main tour, and while he didn't quite hit the heights I expected him to following an outstanding year in Challengers in 2018, he still reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event on hard courts in Indian Wells as well as reaching the final in Antalya on grass as well as recording his maiden top ten win as well - beating Alexander Zverev in three sets in Cincinnati.
As we can see from the data above, Kecmanovic one of the better players in the field on hard court, and despite an inconsistent last six months, still managed to record solid numbers during this time period across all surfaces. The Sportsbook is going 50/1 on the talented Serbian prospect and I think that's a very generous price for an each-way proposition.