Last Updated: 2019-02-18
Week three of the Golden Swing, the indoor European season, and the small tourney tour of the United States continues starting Monday.
This section of the season is always unqiue in that it is essentially three separate entities. Sixteen players (in a 28 man draw) in Marseilles played last week in Rotterdam. Twenty players (in a 28 man draw) in Delray Beach played last week in New York. And finally, TWENTY-FOUR of the players in Rio draw played last week in Buenes Aires. These are basically three separate groups of players travelling around to the same tournaments with each other.
Let’s break ’em down!
Marseilles has been around, as a tournament since 1993. It is has been won, overwhelmingly, by European players who are used to playing a lot of indoor tennis. There have only been THREE players to make the final in the history of the tournament who were not from Europe — Kyrgios won in 2016, Del Po won in 2012 and Marcelo Rios lost in the final in 1997. So, step one, pick a European.
Step two, being an indoor tournament that is generally considered one of the fastest on tour (top 20 on tour for tiebreaks played last year) and being a tournament that is generally won by big names, means you probably need a big serving, high ranked player as an outright. The catch this year? There might NOT be one of those in the draw!
Step three is always a bit of a guess and requires some digging. This the is third and last leg of the Euro indoor season. Most of the players in this draw will be looking forward to a very rich 500 level event in Dubai next week (second only to Beijing amoung 500 level events prize money) or the even more lucrative Sunshine Double in March. This tournament suffered so many player withdrawals that organizers were scrambling on Friday night to find enough people to conduct the main draw. Neither Tsonga nor Tsitsipas were scheduled to play here and have maybe accepted some significant appearance fees to show up… so, find a guy who is motivated.
The top quarter of the draw has some headliner-type landmines. But, as just mentioned, does Tsitsipas care? Or is he here for a paycheque? He is scheduled in Dubai next week and then the Sunshine Double in March. He can’t want to be here. Gael Monfils is coming off a title victory on Sunday, no easy feat for a guy who previously had 21!!!! finals losses. Will he be motivated? With two qualifier spots in the quarter as well it looks primed for someone like Filip Krajinovic. Krajinovic similarily took advantage of a depleted field at the 2017 Paris Masters where he got to the finals after having to only really face Isner in the semis when Carreno Busta crashed out early, Nadal withdrew in the quarters and Sam Querrey wanted to go home early and didn’t put up a fight. This seems like a similar situation and like Paris, it is on indoor hards. Krajinovic is one of only six players in the draw who were actually in Marseilles last year, he went to the quarter-finals in that tournament last year, and he has hold/break numbers that are competitive with the best players in this years field. At 22/1 he is a solid long-shot option.
The second quarter of the draw is scary bad. Another reason Krajinovic looks so appealing. Goffin is maybe not healthy, you can never know what Benoit Paire you are going to get, Gilles Simon can be a troubling player to beat but his outright price is only 16/1 and Damir Dzumhur is having a rough start to 2019 (before coming to Rotterdam and getting a tired Tsitsipas Dzumhur hadn’t won a match). One promising option in the second quarter is Peter Gojowczyk. Gojo has won an indoor hard court tournament, 2017 Metz, before and so we know he is comfortable on the surface. He is not entered into Dubai but rather Acapulco where Nadal, Anderson and Zverev are scheduled so his focus should be entirely on Marseilles. He’s German, so he fits the Euro criteria; he beat Rublev and Donskoy in Rotterdam last week so we know he is not in terrible form, and he has a big outright price of 33/1. If there was a flyer to take in this wide open quarter, it is Gojo.
The third quarter is loaded up with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev and Jeremy Chardy just to name a few. Tsonga is the big worry as he has won this tournament three times before and been to a fourth final. The concern with Tsonga is this is his third straight week playing tennis and he has pulled out of the Sunshine Double citing sickle cell disease. Don’t be surprised if he accepts a wild card into Dubai next week in search of another paycheque. Seems hard to believe he’ll have the motivation or stamina to go deep again this week. Shapovalov is a big talent but one who has yet to put it together in a similar way to some of his young peers. He hasn’t been to a final yet on the ATP tour and with Tsonga and Chardy and possibly Coric standing in his way in the bottom half his price does not justify an outright. Rublev is having a rough 2019, which is a continuation of a sub-par 2019. Chardy will be maybe the best option in the third quarter. At 28/1 his price is big and his has the game for indoor hards with his big serve. His losses in 2019 are mostly respectable (Tsonga, Medvedev and Zverev the last three) and the only concern would be having to play Tsonga again after the loss in Montpellier.
The fourth quarter should be Coric’s. He showed well at the Aussie Open, losing in the fourth round to eventual semi-finalist Lucas Pouille. He doesn’t have a ton of indoor hard experience but he did win in Halle, on grass, last year and make it deep in Shanghai, two of the faster surfaces on tour. Unfortunately, Coric’s outright price is laughably low for a 22 year old with only two titles to his name. He should make it deep here but 4/1 is not a number you can do much with if he gets a tough semi-final match-up like Tsonga and then someone daunting looms in the final.
Krajinovic 22/1, x0.5
Gojowczyk 33/1, x0.25
Delray Beach, like Marseilles, has been around since the early 90’s. It isn’t the fastest venue yet it is perennially won by players with the big serve, big forehand combo. Past champions include Frances Tiafoe, Jack Sock, Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin Del Potro. These are all guys who hold serve in the high 80’s or low 90’s percentile. They are also, with the exception of Tiafoe last year, guys whose outright price is less than 20/1.
There are nine guys in the draw who hold serve over 85% of the time. Let’s look at them.
In the top quarter, the big seed is Del Potro. He’s won this event before, he holds serve over 85% of the time every year and if you look simply at hold/break stats from 2018 he is by far the best player in the draw. The issue, of course, is that DelPo hasn’t played yet in 2019. He is recovering from an injury and it is hard to back him when not knowing his health.
Tenny Sandgren holds serve just over 85% of the time and he has a nice big break of serve number due to a great run in Auckland where he won the title. The issue with Tennys is that he has lost both his matches since that title, to less than stellar players. And he has never been to Delray before so this is another new environment for him. His outright price is rather large but his path is super tough with Opelka, DelPo and then Fritz in his way just to get out of the quarter.
Opelka is Sandgren’s first round opponent and while his serve fits the bill, his outdoor hard court record is not as impressive. He is coming off his first title where he collected some big scalps and motivation could be questionable. He was interesting last week in New York because he matched up well with the big, scary seeds like Querrey and Isner. Delpo and Tiafoe and Fritz are a different challenge and make Opelka less desirable.
Taylor Fritz holds serve 90% of the time on hard courts. He is having a decent start to 2019, making the third round in Melbourne before losing to Federer and then winning the Challenger event in Newport Beach. He was here last year where he made the quarter-finals and he has a winnable first two matches with Mackenzie McDonald, Jared Donaldson and GGL in his section of the quarter. Fritz has beaten Opelka all three times they have played including twice on hards if that is the worry in the quarter. The second quarter is not that exciting so, should Frizt make it out his semi-final looks appetizing.
Karlovic and Kyrgios are the big servers in the second quarter. Ivo started the year hot in Pune but has looked less than stellar the rest of the way. His last two matches were losses to guys outside the top 90. Kyrgios just can’t be trusted until he shows some commitment to playing actual tennis and not exhibitions. Kyrgios has yet to break anyone’s serve in 2019 and that means you are hoping for him to win coin flip tiebreaks at an astonishing rate to go deep this week.
Marcel Granollers and Frances Tiafoe are the two players in the third quarter with a big serve. Granollers is no longer a top tier player; he comes in ranked #110 and his only tour win this year was a tiebreak-fest against Karlovic. No thanks.
Tiafoe is an interesting case. He is the defending champion here, it is his only title, and he has the requisite 85% hold percentage. He would seem to be motivated, as he ducked out of New York very quickly. Tiafoe also has a very nice draw, with Andreas Seppi being the only other top 40 player in his quarter. At 8/1 Tiafoe is a nice option.
The fourth quarter has the big man, John Isner and literally no one else. Mannarino is the only other player in the top 50! and Mannarino has won a match in 2019 yet. Isner hasn’t looked great in 2019 either (his only two wins are against Donaldson and Tomic) and despite his big game, an outright of just 3/1 is not appetizing.
Tiafoe 8/1, x0.5
Fritz 11/1, x0.5
Dominic Thiem is +175. What do you do with that? He’s 10–2 here with a title in 2017. He should have fully knocked the ring rust off after making the semi’s last week and he should be motivated to grab the 500 points here after not defending his Buenes Aires title. His quarter is super easy and the second quarter doesn’t look much more challenging. Cecchinato is coming off a title in Buenes Aires after never winning a match in South America before and Nicolas Jarry hasn’t come close to winning on the Golden Swing this year. The advice here is to avoid the top half altogether.
This tournament has a history of being won by star clay players — the tournament has been around for five years and the five winners were Rafa, Ferrer, Thiem, Cuevas, and Schwartzman. That’s basically the four best non-Djokovic clay players on tour and Schwartzman, who grew up on the surface and has two clay titles and another final to his name. So, who in the bottom half of the bracket is a big name, star player who excels on clay?
Well, funnily enough, Cuevas is not a seeded player and he drew Schwartzman in the first round. How do you pick a winner between those two? The winner of that match should cruise to the semi-finals but their clay stats are almost identical across the board and their prices don’t merit the challenge of their first round match, a potential semi-final with Fognini and a potential final with Thiem. Without doing any math, there is a good chance a rollover parlay on Schwartzman would pay more than his outright price should that be his path.
That leaves Fognini. He has openly stated that this is his last trip through South America. He tanked his first match in each of Buenes Aires and Cordoba. And he may have the toughest quarter in the bracket. There is every reason to believe this won’t turn out well. Here’s the case for him. His hold/break numbers are only surpassed by Thiem and Schwartzman. He’s been to the finals here before and he went to the semis here last year. This is the crown jewel of the Golden Swing, worth 500 points. He has 250 points to defend next week in Sao Paolo and it could be argued, given Sao Paolo is the last leg of his last Golden Swing he may be on vacation next week. This is his last best chance for points in South America and it is a tournament he has yet to conquer. He has the talent to turn it on at any time so if he is motivated he could run through this bracket. He’s beaten both Schwartzman and Thiem on clay before so he shouldn’t be scared of either. This is the only full unit bet of the week.
Fognini 7/1, x1
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