ATP Houston Tips: Struggling Opelka could be vulnerable against Krueger
The clay court action continues on the ATP Tour on Wednesday and Sean Calvert is taking on a short-priced favourite in Houston...
Due to the washout on Monday there are still round one matches to play at the Grand Prix Hassan II and one of them is a repeat of the match we saw in qualies on Monday between Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Vit Kopriva.
Zapata Miralles gets back into the draw as a lucky loser and faces the man that beat him in a quirk of fate that happens from time-to-time on the tour.
Kopriva dropped the opening set 0-6 to Zapata Miralles but ended up winning it 7-5 in the third in their qualie clash and another tight match is expected in their main draw clash.
No value for me in that one and of the remaining three round one matches the two that look like they might have a chance are Pavel Kotov and Damir Dzumhur.
How times have changed for David Goffin from the last time he faced Dzumhur, which was at the 2016 Australian Open when Goffin was number 15 seed and rated a 1.05 chance to beat Dzumhur, which he duly did in four sets.
Now Goffin is number 74 in the world and around the 1.56 mark to defeat Dzumhur and I couldn't be confident in Goffin even against Dzumhur, who's currently number 145 in the world and rarely makes a mark at main level nowadays.
You never know what to expect from Dzumhur, who lost to the world number 908 six matches ago and I can't trust him here, but equally Goffin's level can't be relied upon either, with the Belgian having only won back-to-back matches at main level once in 12 months.
Kotov is perhaps the better choice, with the Russian taking on Tallon Griekspoor, who Kotov beat on clay in their only career meeting back in 2019 at the Francavilla Challenger as a 2.54 shot.
Griekspoor has improved a lot since then, but he's struggled lately, with two bad losses at Indian Wells and Miami (to Sam Querrey and Francisco Cerundolo) and he hasn't found his best form since Melbourne earlier in the season.
Kotov beat Fernando Verdasco to qualify, but he lost to the world number 1025 last week at the Lugano Challenger and he's yet to win a match on the main tour (0-3 so far) and I'm not confident enough in him to back him at this price today of 2.74.
I'm also not confident in the round two underdogs in Marrakech on Wednesday, with Malek Jaziri having made it to the second round thanks to a retirement from Jiri Vesely and unlikely you'd have thought to go any further.
He takes on Laslo Djere, who should be too solid for the veteran Tunisian, and the other round two underdog is Carlos Taberner, who also benefitted from a retirement in round one (Yannick Hanfmann).
Taberner faces Lorenzo Musetti, who consigned Albert Ramos to another early exit in Marrakech (Ramos is now 2-5 win/loss here) and on that form you'd expect Musetti to have too much for Taberner, who's 6-11 win/loss versus top-100 opponents at main level.
Krueger in with a chance against struggling Opelka
In what is, quite honestly, a similarly unappealing card in Houston on Wednesday, it might be worth taking on Reilly Opelka in some way in his clash with Mitchell Krueger.
I was on Opelka outright last week in Miami when he retired during his first match (against eventual semi finalist Francisco Cerundolo) and probably due to an injured shoulder he was very poor in all elements of his game.
He also withdrew from the doubles citing the same injury and it's unlikely that he'd save himself for Houston and Monte-Carlo by quitting Miami with a minor niggle, so I wonder what sort of shape Opelka will be in today.
His opponent, Krueger, has been playing well lately, beating some decent players and he looked good against (an admittedly half-hearted) Juan Pablo Varillas in round one yesterday.
It's unlikely that he'd save himself for Houston and Monte-Carlo by quitting Miami with a minor niggle...
Varillas retired after six games of that match, but it will have given Krueger a feel for the clay that Opelka hasn't had and Krueger has beaten Opelka on a slow and bouncy court before (at the Indian Wells Challenger back in 2018) and taken a set off him on grass, so he won't fear Opelka, whose record in Houston is 1-5 win/loss.
Opelka has won his last 10 main level matches when priced up between 1.31 and 1.49, but 10 of his last 12 such matches have featured a set one tie break and while they were played on hard courts that outcome seems likely here, too.
Houston has a high tie break rate for a 'clay' event anyway and over 10.5 games at 2.50 on the Sportsbook seems a fair wager here.
I'm torn between that and backing Krueger to win, so half a point on each will be my only interest on Wednesday.
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