Indian Wells Men's Day Three Tips: Back Musetti to cover the handicap

The Indian Wells Masters moves into round two, and after picking up two winners on Friday, Dan Weston previews the day ahead...

Otte and Nakashima record Friday victories

Oscar Otte and Brandon Nakashima got the job done for us overnight with wins over the French duo, Richard Gasquet and Adrian Mannarino, respectively, to give us a welcome boost ahead of round two which sees the seeded players join the tournament following their first-round byes.

Medvedev and Nadal begin their tournaments

This gives us our first look at the big names, including Daniil Medvedev and Rafa Nadal, who headline the top half of the draw - action is from that top half today, with the bottom half playing tomorrow.

Both are heavy favourites, although Medvedev at [1.07 ] for his match against Tomas Machac is shorter-priced than Nadal at [1.2 ] for what could be a tricky opener against the high-potential young American, Sebastian Korda.

Musetti with a solid underdog chance over Opelka

In the pre-tournament preview, I discussed the implications of the likely slower court conditions compared to the average hard court and how that could have a negative impact on big-servers. Included in that, rather obviously, is Reilly Opelka, and today, the 6 foot 11 American faces Lorenzo Musetti.

Opelka is probably the most marked example of a big-server on tour. If you subtract the return points won percentage from service points won percentage for all players, his net percentage is huge, and I wonder how much of a leveller his playing style might be today against Musetti.

The market doesn't seem absurdly worried, making Opelka a strong [1.45 ] favourite, and I've also made the point that he's due some mean-reversion after a 2021 season where he won an unsustainably high percentage of tiebreaks.

Given the above, it makes sense to side with the talented young Italian, Musetti, who picked up a solid underdog win over Marcos Giron in round one.

You can take either 3.1 on Musetti to get the win, or see how the game handicap market forms in the run-up to the match - it looks like we should be able to get around 1.70 on Musetti with a 3.5 game head start, which looks an enticing line.

Talented Brooksby favourite over Khachanov

When looking at today's schedule, two other matches caught my eye for various reasons. Firstly, Karen Khachanov against Jenson Brooksby, where Brooksby is actually the marginal [1.92 ] favourite to pick up the win.

I've been pushing Brooksby as a young player of massive potential for a while now, and he really pushed Alexander Zverev several weeks ago in Acapulco, after reaching the final in Dallas (lost to Opelka, who yet again won two tiebreaks in that match).

The market line might surprise some, but it looks about right based on my data - Brooksby is that good, and could get even better.

Fognini versus Basilashvili only for the brave

Finally, the other match which I spotted immediately is Fabio Fognini versus Nikoloz Basilashvili - something of an unpredictable clash featuring two of the most enigmatic players on tour.

Basilashvili is the slight 1.92 favourite, and I think that's very justified. In fact, there's a solid case for him being slightly shorter, but in truth, this is a match where pre-match betting is only for the brave given the vastly differing levels between both player's peak level, average level and lowest level.

Both are capable of winning a tournament out of nowhere, or racking up five losses in a row, so this looks like a match which is probably best viewed as a casual observer - anyone betting on it probably will be watching the match hiding behind their sofa!

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