Last Updated: 2019-01-06
Week two of the ATP tennis season gets underway Sunday afternoon in Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. You can read the ASB Classic preview here.
These are two fairly unique tournaments in that one, Sydney, is among the oldest tennis tournaments in the world, beginning play in 1885; and both were once grass events that switched to hard courts about 30 years ago (Australia has a deep history of grass tennis and even the Australian Open was played on grass as recently as 1988). These tournaments are also held the week before a Grand Slam, so top ten ranked, big names are generally absent and crazy things can happen.
The story in Sydney is vastly different from Auckland. There is no one from the top 10 and only three players from the top 25. Those three players, Daniil Medvedev, Stef Tsitsipas and Alex DeMinaur, are also three of the youngest players in the draw (along with Tiafoe and Jarry). A true changing of the guard. The first thing to realize is that the shortest price in the field may not be at the event. Medvedev was playing the final in Brisbane Sunday night (Aussie time) and will probably pull out, as RBA did from Auckland, to rest up for the big prize in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, the tournament has already begun, with two matches on Saturday night so, probably, if Medvedev abstains, a lucky loser will get a bye into the second round. Both Tsitsipas and DeMinaur are short odds; Tsitsipas almost avoidably short. He showed last summer, and again at the Next Gen Finals, he can be a dominant player on tour. But, his quarter is no cakewalk. Jeremy Chardy showed in Brisbane when his serve is on he can compete with almost anyone, dispatching of Nick Kyrgios and making a semi-final. Nicolas Jarry is a huge young Chilean with a bomb of a serve who holds 84% of the time and Martin Klizan is no slouch, winning a title and making another final in 2018.
The second quarter contains must less fantastic names and the two most intriguing options probably play in the first round. Lucas Pouille has won numerous titles on tour already at the age of 24. He has also undergone a significant coaching change this off-season and, while it is hard to put much stock in exhibition tennis, Pouille went 0–3 at the Hopman Cup, losing to the likes of Matt Ebden and David Ferrer. At 10/1 his prices probably isn’t right. Pouille’s opponent in the first round is a very viable option though. Andrey Rublev does not have a price assigned to him yet because he had to come through qualifying. He rolled through those qualies though, with sets of 75, 64, 61, and 62. Rublev likes to start the year hot, he made the final in Doha in 2018, and his hold/break numbers on hard courts are a respectable 101%. Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla and Diego Schwartzman, on hards, should not be significant roadblocks to Rublev should he get past Pouille. If Rublev opens at 20/1 or better it is worth a quarter unit or so of your bankroll.
The third quarter doesn’t hold any names of interest but, if Medvedev pulls out the fourth quarter has a decent option. Alex DeMinaur broke out in 2018 during the Aussie Swing. He made the semi-finals in Brisbane and then came here to Sydney and made the final. He looked decent last week and will be super motivated to defend his trip to the finals last year. Dusan Lajovic, Jordan Thompson, Ramos-Vinolas, and even Riley Opelka don’t seem like big challenges — none of them come close to DeMinaur’s 106% hold/break number from 2018. Even if Medvedev plays, he should have some fatigue considering three sets in the Brisbane final and four matches in the week.
Andrey Rublev outright 20/1 or better, x0.25
DeMinaur outright, +650, x1
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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