The phenomenon of three separate tours essentially operating in conjunction continues for the third straight week — everyone who was in Rotterdam moves over to Marseille, everyone who was in New York moves to Delray Beach, and everyone who was in Buenos Aires moves to Rio. Three very similar fields in slightly different conditions. Let’s break them down.
Marseille has the most loaded field of the three this week, with a top-heavy slate including Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, David Goffin, Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov and FAA all from the top 20. It tails off quick though, with 18 guys outside the top 50 lined up to play. You can find an issue with each of the big names here. Medvedev was put away in straight sets by Pospisil in Rotterdam and with Dubai and the Sunshine Double on the horizon, it is easy to question his motivation to win Marseille. Additionally, with Jannik Sinner, Aljaz Bedene and Karen Khachanov, the #1 seed has an unusually tough path. At +250 Daniil feels like an easy pass. Khachanov was the pick last week in Rotterdam and he flamed out early. Being in Medvedev’s quarter is not helping a bounce-back effort and he drew Bedene in the first round which won’t be any kind of a walkover.
Goffin is usually opposable but this may be his best indoor venue; he is 9–4 here and made the semis last year. His quarter doesn’t look daunting, especially if FAA shows up tired off a final on Sunday in Rotterdam. But, his price is only +650 and this is for a guy who hasn’t won a title since 2017 and hasn’t won an indoor event since 2014. No thanks.
Tsitsipas is the big seed on the bottom of the bracket. The Greek is priced at only 4/1 and that doesn’t seem appetizing. His quarter doesn’t look that tough, outside of Hurkacz, and Tsitsipas actually has some decent combined hold/break numbers early in 2020. But, due to some bad play on big points and some tough opponents he has bombed out of all four events he has entered so far in 2020. He is defending this title but like Medvedev, there is a good chance he may be looking past this.
The best bet might not be one of these top names. Instead, it might be best to oppose a seeded player like Shapovalov. Shapo has lost four straight matches and is getting trucked in those matches. In his quarter Marin Cilic will get a lucky loser in the first round after Filip Krajinovic pulled out. In the second round, he will get a struggling Shapo and then an easier opponent in the quarter-final. Cilic has made the final here before, he is super comfortable on a faster indoor track (he has two grass titles and eight indoor hard court titles) has shown early in 2020 that he might have regained his 2018 form (he is holding serve 90% of the time and breaking serve 9% of the time so far this year). At 16/1 he is the bet in Marseille.
This tournament has been won by a real mish-mash of players from big servers to all-around grinders to real longshots. This year there is a real collection of each. It’s easy to oppose top seed Nick Kyrgios in smaller events where his motivation can be question — especially when he is only 4/1. Like Medvedev in Marseille, Kyrgios has been stuck with a pretty loaded first quarter. Tiafoe, Kecmanovic, Sandgren, Edmund and Humbert is not an easy collection of names to get through. Again, especially for 3/1. The second quarter has two interesting names in Taylor Fritz and John Millman. Millman at 22/1 would be the better option just based on the fact that should they meet up in the quarter-finals, Fritz would only be a small favorite of maybe -150. The question is can Millman get through Fritz, possibly Kyrgios and then someone like Raonic in the final?
Millman has never won a title on Tour and that is a little concerning, even if these conditions will suit him. The bottom half offers more realistic options. Milos Raonic is the big seed in the 4th quarter and heads the lower half of the bracket. He has a relatively open path to the semis, with the likes of Radu Albot, Jack Sock, Henri Laaksonen and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in his quarter. Unfortunately, Raonic’s price is only 3/1 and he proved last week in New York that this kind of number is not value for him, even in a 250 event. There is a high percentage chance Raonic is in a coin-flip, pick’em semi-final, so let’s go with that prospective opponent. Reilly Opelka is the big seed in the third quarter. That quarter is filled with guys like Mackenzie McDonald and Ryan Harrison coming off injury issues, along with guys ranked outside the top 80 like Damir Dzumhur and Yasutaka Uchiyama. Opelka struggled with wind in Houston last year but he’s been playing tennis in Florida since he was a youth so, he should be ready for these conditions and the accompanying rain delays and intermittent wind. He went out early in New York so he shouldn’t be dealing with the potential fatigue that Edmunds, Seppi or Kecmanovic might suffer from. Opelka has steadily held serve over 90% of the time since he’s been on Tour and he breaks serve at a better clip than fellow trees Isner and Ivo. He’s basically a little better at serving than Fritz, for a better price, and a little worse at returning than Raonic, but at three times the price. If Raonic and Opelka, as expected meet in a semi-final, it’s at most Raonic -200 and it’s better to have the 11/ than the 3/1 outright in that scenario.
The crown jewel of the Golden Swing takes place in Rio de Janeiro and the crown prince of clay has decided to attend. Dominic Thiem makes his only appearance in South America this week and he is the heavy, heavy favorite. That makes the decision easy, avoid the top half of the bracket and hope that Thiem’s break after the Aussie and everyone else’s acclimatization to clay (21 of the 24 players in the draw played last week in Buenos Aires and 15 of them played in both Cordoba and Buenos Aires) means he gets shocked early and won’t be a factor come Saturday or Sunday.
The bottom half is headlined by Dusan Lajovic and Christin Garin, along with, to a lesser extent, Borna Coric, Juan Ignacio Londero and Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Coric showed in Buenos Aires that he maybe isn’t 100% back in form yet; Londero made deep trips through both Cordoba and Buenos Aires; ARV is more of an altitude player, making finals in Sao Paulo, Kitzbuhel, Quito and winning Gstaad; Lajovic looked shaky in barely beating Pedro Martinez and then getting trucked by Casper Ruud. That leaves Christin Garin. There haven’t been a lot (or any) repeat winners on the Golden Swing, within a season. It’s tough to do when most guys play back-to-back-to-back. But, Garin won Cordoba and then took the week off. That allows him to acclimatize coming off the mountain and rest up after playing four times in four days at elevation. Garin has the game to hit through guys on clay and his combined hold/break numbers the last two years are incredible. He was a highly-touted youth player and while it may have taken him a little longer to break out, he’s there now, winning three clay titles in the last ten months.
Marseille — Cilic +1600, x1
Delray Beach — Opelka +1100, x1
Rio — Garin +1000, x1