Miami Open Men's Day One Tips: Back Kokkinakis to overcome veteran Gasquet
The Miami Open gets underway this afternoon so tennis tipster Dan Weston previews day one and recommends his best bet...
With the seeded players having received first round byes and therefore not starting their tournament until either Friday or Saturday, round one in Miami features some players who typically don't ply their trade on the main ATP Tour on a regular basis.
Rhere's something of a Challenger Tour feel to proceedings today, although there are some headline matches which look very interesting.
Unpredictable Kyrgios looks too short
Nick Kyrgios versus Adrian Mannarino is one, and I must admit I was surprised by Kyrgios' progress last week at Indian Wells. The market has clearly reacted to this and the inconsistent Kyrgios is priced up at [ 1.29] at the time of writing.
I'm in two minds about this market pricing - yes, Kyrgios is far better, and yes, Mannarino doesn't typically perform well in slower conditions, but I'm still uneasy about the prospect of a player who hasn't been far off a part-timer in the last two years being such a short price.
Greek qualifier to beat French veteran
Other matches which look interesting include Kyrgios' doubles partner, Thanasi Kokkinakis, who faces the veteran Frenchman, Richard Gasquet.
Qualifier Kokkinakis is the [1.53 ] favourite to take this, and he's done pretty well this year so far with a semi-final and title in the Australian Open warm-up events in Adelaide, and then qualifying to be here with wins over the Italian duo, Andreas Seppi and Thomas Fabbiano.
Gasquet, however, hasn't made much impression this year. He's had some fitness issues and entered the Phoenix Challenger last week to presumably get some game time, but was defeated in straight sets by Denis Kudla in the quarter-final.
Numbers-wise, Kokkinakis looks a very deserved favourite against an opponent clearly in decline.
There's even an argument to suggest he should be a shorter price as favourite - we should get around 1.80 on Kokkinakis -2.5 games on the game handicap, and this looks a reasonable line to me.
I'm also fascinated about the match between Borna Coric and Fernando Verdasco. Coric, after injury problems, has dropped out of the top 100, and Verdasco also lost his top 100 ranking in May 2021.
The veteran Spaniard is still working on recapturing his best level and has even dropped down to the Challenger Tour on a semi-regular basis to do so. Clay events didn't really work out well for Verdasco, but the switch to hard court has done and he lifted the trophy over relatively weak opposition in the Monterrey Challenger earlier this month.
Verdasco has also qualified to be here, nicking tight matches against Joao Sousa and Hugo Grenier, but despite having only played one match in a year due to a shoulder injury, Coric is the pre-match favourite here at [1.76 ].
He does have a higher ceiling than Verdasco, but there are a lot of question marks over his current level - this will be a good marker of where Coric is currently at.
Finally, the market appears fairly defensive on Brandon Nakashima's chances for his match with Soonwoo Kwon, at [1.67 ].
Despite almost identical return numbers on hard court on the main tour over the last year, Nakashima has won around 5% more service points and this should give him a considerable edge going into this match.
Kwon hasn't won back-to-back matches in a tournament since winning the indoor event in Nur-Sultan at the end of September and while Nakashima's results aren't great of late, he did the job for us several weeks ago at Indian Wells against Adrian Mannarino.
If I was forced to side with a player for this match it would be Nakashima, but Kokkinakis on the game handicap is today's recommendation.
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