Last Updated: 2018-02-11
February is one of the most active months for tennis, a time when the tour is squeezing three tournaments into each week, spread across three continents. In fact, its the best time for tennis fans in North America. They get to wake up to tennis in Europe, then after lunch there is South American tennis and then by late afternoon there is tennis in the States. Who could ask for more than that?
This week sees the first 500 level tournament of the season, in Rotterdam, and the field is sufficiently loaded.
Here are the odds:
This field definitely contains many of the top players on tour, and starting at the top, its hard not to look at Federer whenever placing a futures bet. He has basically won every tournament he has entered in the past year, only losing 5 times while collecting 8 titles. He has won Rotterdam three times in the past and he holds a decent head-to-head with almost everyone entered in this tournament. It’s hard not to like him as an option, regardless of value.
But, in looking for value, it’s important to remember Federer’s five losses in 2017 came to a wide variety of players; those in the top ten like David Goffin and Alex Zverev, those who probably should be in the top ten like Juan Martin Del Potro and some total journeymen like Evgeny Donskoy. In looking at current and former top ten players in this field its probably best to start by disregarding players like Stan Wawrinka, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet due to fitness. Stan looked tired last week, Ferrer is pushing 35 and Gasquet just played a final in Montpellier. That leaves Zverev, Goffin, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov. Berdych and Dimitrov both lack success against Federer. In fact, Federer has won like 10 straight against Berdych and is 6–0 vs Dimitrov. But, both are in the bottom half of the draw and if Federer is upset before the final, they could have value. Dimitrov is obviously a top player on tour and carries the second best hold/break statistics on hard courts into the tournament. He also has the most favourable quarter in the draw. Berdych, meanwhile, excels in Rotterdam. In the last four years he has at least made the semis every year, making the final twice and winning it once. Berdych also has a decent record head-to-head with Goffin and Dimitrov, the two biggest threats on his side of the draw.
Speaking of Goffin, he is also lucky enough to be on the bottom half of the draw. He beat Federer in November at the World Tour Finals and, although he had zero success against Federer previous to that, it has to be confidence inspiring. And he is coming off a deep run in Montpellier last week. He is a good bet.
Zverev is the last big name option and while he has struggled in majors, in three set matches he has routinely felled the big trees. In fact, he’s beaten Federer twice in best of three secanrios. If there is a big name option here not named Federer, its probably Zverev. He has 6 titles in the last two years, two of them on in-door hard courts.
If looking for a higher priced option it might be best to check out the Russians. Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev are in the draw and both are fascinating young talents. Rublev is in Dimitrov’s quarter but, he has had success against Dimitrov head-to-head and with a finals appearance in Doha and a quarterfinal in Montpellier its been a good start to the season for him. Plus, he’ll want revenge for the Aussie Open this year. Medvedev has had to come through qualifying but, that doesn’t seem to be an impediment to him, as he did so in Sydney as well and went on to win that tournament in January. He didn’t land in Federer’s quarter, so he can probably be expected to make it to the QF vs Zverev. He may be an interesting option when a price becomes available on him.
The two smaller tournaments are on the other side of the Atlantic. The tour stops for its inaugural visit to Long Island at the New York Open and the Golden Swing continues in Buenes Aires, Argentina.
In New York, there is no history to discuss. Its probably not advisable though to back players coming off a mountain in Quito to play at sea level in New York. Nor is it advisable to back players who are crossing the Atlantic to play tennis four or five days after playing in Europe.
While they are on the same side of the draw, the two players most interesting to look at are John Isner and Kevin Anderson. While this is the inaugural tournament, both of these players have heavy success in the States. Kevin Anderson has three career titles, one in his home country and two in 250’s in the U.S. He has made 11 other finals, 7of which have been in the U.S., including last years US Open. He obviously enjoys playing in the States and he has the some of the best hard court stats amoung the players entered in this tournament, winning a career 59% of his hard court matches and sporting a 108 combined hold/break number.
Anderson’s main competition is John Isner. Isner also excels in the U.S. Isner has won 12 titles in his career and aside from two in Auckland, all of them have been 250 events. If you remove a rogue clay win in Houston, the other 9 titles have all been on the US east coast in decently fast conditions. Isner has another 10 finals appearances in tournaments based in the United States. This tournament is right in Isner’s wheelhouse.
Head-to-head Isner has come out on top 5 straight times vs Anderson but, there has been quite a few coin flip tiebreaks in those matches — two of the matches finished 76,67,76. So, flip a coin and pick one of these big servers.
The Golden Swing sees the arrival of Dominic Thiem this week in Buenes Aires. There is hardly value on him to win the tournament but, its hard to make a case for any one else. Outside of Rafa, Thiem is the best clay court player on tour and its not particularly close. His combined hold/break stats are a full ten points higher than anyone else entered in the tournament and he wins on clay over 73% of the time. He entered Buenes Aires for the first time and only time in 2016 and won it, beating Rafa along the way. In fact, Thiem has won at least one tournament on the Golden Swing in each of the last two years.
Its probably not advisable to back the two other heavy favorites in the draw, PCB and ARV, as they are coming from Quito; a 2,800 metre change in elevation (9,100 feet). Diego Schwartzman, however, is possibly an option. He has never beaten Thiem on clay but, he does have a victory over him on hard courts and he is in the bottom half of the draw.
A longer shot option would be Jiri Vesely. Clay is arguably his best surface, he has a very competitive hold/break number at 105 and he has a victory over most of the major players in the draw including Thiem, Schwartzman and ARV.
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