Last Updated: 2018-01-06
The second week of the ATP season sees the tour stop in Auckland, NZ and Sydney, Aus. The focus here will be the ATP ASB Classic, one of two tune-ups in advance of the Australian Open. Both tournaments do try and emulate the conditions in Melbourne, using similar hard court surfaces, the plexi-cushion hard courts. One would think that this attempt at similarity with the Aussie Open would attract the top players looking for a warm-up but, alas, that is not the case. The only top 10 player in action this week is Jack Sock. Juan Martin Del Potro, Robert Bautista Agut, John Isner and Sam Querrey from the top 25 join Sock. Usually tournaments lacking top players mean the field is pretty wide open, giving bettors a great chance to land a nice-sized outright winner. Let’s take a look at some options.
For the ASB Classic in Auckland, which has the better the players and begins first, the draw is as follows, with the winners advancing in a traditional bracket format:
The odds to win outright from at Bet365 are:
Juan Martin Del Potro +250
Roberto Bautista-Agut +650
Sam Querrey +700
Jack Sock +700
John Isner +750
David Ferrer +1000
Hyeon Chung +2000
Denis Shapovalov +2000
Andrey Rublev +2200
Kyle Edmund +2500
Robin Haase +2800
Stefanos Tsitsipas +2800
Karen Khachanov +3300
Ryan Harrison +3300
Peter Gojowczyk +3300
Jiri Vesely +3300
Steve Johnson +4000
Guido Pella +5000
Pablo Cuevas +6600
Yuichi Sugita +6600
Joao Sousa +8000
Donald Young +8000
Yibing Wu +10000
Michael Venus +30000
Everyone handicaps tennis (and sports in general) differently but, a solid way to start the process is to look at some relevant stats and then try to add some context to each player.
Here are some base stats on each player in the field to compare and contrast:
It seems odd to see Jack Sock priced back behind Del Potro and RBA, at the same price as fellow Americans Querrey and Isner. Sock is the defending champion here in Auckland and while he has never had much success in Australia he seems to have developed a small love affair with New Zealand. Not only did he win the tournament last year, he went to the finals the year before and while he missed the tourney in 2015 due to injury, in 2014, his first visit, he went to the quarter-finals. Coming off a big finish to 2017 and at +700, it would seem Sock is a must bet.
Amoung the other small priced, big named players is RBA. He has defeated Sock twice in Auckland. And while he chose to skip this event last year, he won it in 2016 and generally fares pretty well in Australasia as a whole — he’s 12–4 in Auckland and 16–8 at the Aussie in his career. Additionally, he carries the best hold/break stats on hard courts into this tournament. At +650, he’s probably worth a look.
Another former champion in the field is Del Potro. He has actually won both here and in Sydney. Really, as long as he is fit, he is always a threat. He’s the most accomplished hard court player here, with a .700 plus winning percentage on the surface, hold/break stats over 100 and a US Open on his resume. But, at only +250, there is not a ton of value.
The other two short priced options are Americans Querrey and Isner. They both have had previous success here in Auckland, with Querrey reaching the finals in 2009 and the semis in 2013; Isner has actually won Auckland twice, in 2009 and 2014 but, he really is hit or miss as his other 4 trips here have all ended in the quarter-finals. Isner’s first match will be a tough one versus either Kyle Edmund or Hyeon Chung and he’ll have to go through Del Potro, so if there is value here it lies with Querrey.
The rest of the field contains some interesting names, if no real challengers. David Ferrer has great hard court stats but, is maybe on the back side of his career; he’s only reached one final since 2015 and it was on clay. Robin Haase is another quality veteran but, he hasn’t won a title since 2012. Ryan Harrison is another solid name in the bunch but, he is coming off a finals appearance last week in Brisbane (lost to Nick Kyrgios). Making back to back finals happens more than one might think but, Harrison is not that guy. (The players to reach finals in back to back weeks last year were Jo-Willy Tsonga (Rotterdam/Marseilles), Rafael Nadal (Monte Carlo/Barcelona), Feli Lopez (Stuttgart/London), John Isner (Newport/Atlanta), Alexander Zverev (Washington/Montreal), David Goffin (Shenzhen/Tokyo), and Nadal again (Beijing/Shanghai) and Tsonga again (Antwerp/Vienna)).
There are some real quality young stars in the field. Chung, Shapovalov, Edmund and Tsitsipas are all great talents that could make a run. But, the number is not big enough on any of them considering none of them have made a final, let alone won anything yet.
Jiri Vesely and Karen Khachanov are two interesting names that have titles on their resumes and the game to go deep in a tournament but, both excel on clay courts, not hards.
The player with the value that maybe lacks name recognition is Peter Gojowczyk. He had a decent start to the year last week in Brisbane, reaching the third round; he wins more than he loses on hard courts and in tiebreaks and his hold/break stats are over the 100 mark. He won his first title last year in Metz and he’s 28, right in what should be his prime. He gets a qualifier in the first round and, if he can get past Sock in the second, he a real chance to get to the semi’s vs Querrey or RBA. The concern with Gojo would be that he is travelling from Qatar to New Zealand — that can’t be fun.
Our picks for the winner of the ASB Classic in Auckland:
Jack Sock +700
Sam Querrey +700
For additional questions or recommendations for individual matches, feel free to reach out on Twitter, where you can find me @BigTenWatto.
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