The ATP Tour moves on to Rotterdam and Buenos Aires in week nine and Sean Calvert is back to find the outright betting value in both tournaments.
“For me the 50-1 about Mager and 33-1 about Coria are good options, with Mager getting the nod…”
“Alexei Popyrin is perhaps the best value option in the bottom half of the draw at 25-1…”
That’s from last week’s preview and once again I managed to pick the wrong ones from my shortlist, with Popyrin winning Singapore and Coria the tournament favourite for Cordoba at the semi final stage – at least 110-1 shot (and probably bigger with some layers) Juan Manuel Cerundolo won it rather than Coria.
Of those I did pick, we were unlucky with 50-1 Pedro Sousa, who got injured midway through his opening set against Federico Delbonis and subsequently declared himself unlikely to play Buenos Aires this week.
Sousa’s part of the draw opened up as I expected and it was Ramos that took advantage and went on to make the final, rather than Sousa or my other pick Marco Cecchinato.
In Singapore, Yoshihito Nishioka made the quarters and had his chances early on against Alexander Bublik, but didn’t take them and fell to the man that we backed to win the previous ATP Tour event in Melbourne.
Conditions and trends
The big-money event of the week is the €1.1m ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and this isn’t usually a tournament that qualifiers or long shots go well in, with Martin Klizan’s 50-1 success here in 2016 the only recent break from that trend.
Gael Monfils has won it the last two years, but he’s not here this year after a run of poor form and splitting with Elina Svitolina.
Top seeds don’t have a great record in Rotterdam, with Roger Federer the only number one seed to have won the title here since 2011, and last year’s high seed, Daniil Medvedev was a round one loser 12 months ago.
Conditions at the Ahoy Arena are at the whim of tournament director Richard Krajicek and last year they played on a black Proflex indoor surface that led to 82% holds of serve and a high tie break match frequency of 53%.
Over in Argentina at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis club they play on slow clay and we had a 33-1 winner here last year with Casper Ruud.
There were actually 79% service holds at the Argentina Open last year, which is a very high number for this tournament, and it’s had its share of decent priced winners and finalists, so I think there should be an opportunity again this time around.
As well as Ruud’s triumph, there were wins for 33-1 Alexander Dolgopolov (the only unseeded winner since 2007) in 2017 and the year before that 22-1 Dominic Thiem won it, plus there have been finalists at 50-1, 40-1 and 66-1 in the last five years.
No qualifier has made it past the quarter finals here since 2002, but Pedro Sousa made the final as a lucky loser last year.
No Argentine has won this since David Nalbandian back in 2008 and their main hope this year, Diego Schwartzman is struggling with a knee injury at the moment, so that barren run may continue.
ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam
The top half of this year’s Rotterdam draw looks loaded, with Daniil Medvedev, Alex De Minaur, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Alexander Zverev and Roberto Bautista Agut all possible champions placed in this part of the draw.
Zverev has moaned about conditions here not being suitable to his game in the past and he hasn’t played here since 2018 when he lost to Andreas Seppi and a round one clash this time against Alexander Bublik looks dangerous for the German.
The two (aside from Bublik) that could perhaps take advantage of a Zverev slip-up in this second quarter of the draw are Bautista Agut and Reilley Opelka.
RBA looks in good form in Montpellier at the moment after injury caused him to slump to a shock defeat to Radu Albot in Melbourne and I had a nibble (and it really was a tiny nibble, as that’s all I’m allowed) at the 33-1 opening show of Paddy Power/Betfair about the Spaniard.
He’s beaten Medvedev in both of their prior career meetings and that price looked a bit big, but RBA has struggled against big servers in the past, so if fit Opelka is a back-up in this section – again I took what little I could of the 100-1 opening show about the American from the same firms.
Opelka beat RBA on indoor hard in Basel at the end of 2019 and he could go far if he’s fit and serving well.
In Q1, Auger-Aliassime made the final in Rotterdam a year ago as a 66-1 chance and a deep run is possible again from the Canadian, but with his price being much shorter than that this year I won’t be chancing FAA, whose record in finals is surely beginning to be a concern for his fans and backers.
Last year, Medvedev was ambushed in round one by the big game of Vasek Pospisil, but it seems unlikely that Dusan Lajovic will cause lightning to strike twice against the Russian.
Medvedev could well have a bit of a hangover though after that rather chastening defeat by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final and it’s possible that Borna Coric or one of FAA or De Minaur could hand Medvedev an early exit.
FAA looks the only one with the sort of game to do it, but I’m not seeing a lot of value in his price of around 25-1 this week.
Moving on to the bottom half of the draw and this looks to be between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev, with perhaps David Goffin, Ugo Humbert, Stan Wawrinka or Karen Khachanov the main dangers to the two high seeds in this half.
Andy Murray could possibly do something against Rublev early on and Tsitsipas has been known to struggle to get his level and enthusiasm back after majors, plus he has a tricky draw against Egor Gerasimov, so there are possibilities for the bigger-priced players in this half.
The one that might go well for my money at a nice price is Ugo Humbert, who should have made the semi finals of the Paris Masters indoors for us at 66-1 back in November, losing from 5-1 up in the final set breaker to Milos Raonic there.
Humbert’s indoor serve stats in the last two years are very similar to those of tournament favourite Medvedev: 86% holds of serve (Medvedev 87%), 77% first serve points won (Medvedev 78%) and 53% second serve points won (Medvedev 55%), but he needs to do a little better on return.
Medvedev has broken serve 9% more often than Humbert in the last two years indoors and the Frenchman needs more in that area, but his draw is handy: a qualifier first up then either Goffin or Struff.
He then may well have to beat Rublev in the quarters, but Humbert was close to doing that in St Peterbsurg indoors in October, with Rublev upping it right at the end to claim a 7-5 deciding set victory.
Humbert has also beaten Tsitsipas indoors recently (at the Paris Masters) and he has had a week playing indoors already (in Montpellier) where many of the other players haven’t, so if you’re after a long shot, Humbert could be the man.
His 2021 form hasn’t reached the heights yet, but we know he has it in his locker, so I don’t mind taking a small chance on him this week.
There have to be some pretty serious doubts over the fitness of top seed Diego Schwartzman here after the world number nine’s comments following his defeat to Albert Ramos in Cordoba.
Schwartzman said that he’d been suffering from severe knee pain since Tuesday and was taking pills for the problem, which doesn’t sound great and once again in Argentina I’m happy to take him on.
He hasn’t won a title in his home land since the 2014 San Juan Challenger and if what he says about his knee is correct there could be an opportunity for a big-priced finalist from his top half of the draw this week.
I’m not sold on number four seed, Miomir Kecmanovic’s abilities on clay, despite his title in Kitzbuhel last season. That was at altitude and plenty of fast court players have gone well over the years – in South America at sea level it’s a different game.
He showed a lack of patience last week in a poor loss to Juan Manuel Cerundolo and Kecmanovic will need all the advice that his new coach David Nalbandian can provide if he’s to win the title this week.
Federico Delbonis is still struggling a bit with a back problem, while Thiago Monteiro also had injury problems last week in Cordoba, so I’m passing on that leftie pair and I’m tempted to give Marco Cecchinato another chance.
He’s got a tough one first up though in a repeat of the Sardinia final from last autumn and the winner of that one looks to have a solid chance this week.
Djere withdrew from Cordoba last week, but I’m not sure why, which is a little concerning.
He has the ability to grind it out in a tournament of this standard in South America though, as he showed in winning Rio, and if he’s fit 28-1 with Bet Victor looks a good price.
The 40-1 about Cecchinato with Unibet also looks too big and I don’t mind giving him another go at those odds in slower conditions that should suit him.
In the bottom half, the winner of the all-Italian clash between Gianluca Mager and Salvatore Caruso should have a good chance in Q3, which is where number three seed Benoit Paire has been placed in the draw.
Paire put up very little in the way of effort last week in Cordoba and he seems to be here just because the weather is nicer than it is in Europe, so it’s hard to see the Frenchman doing a great deal again this week.
I sided with Mager in the end over Federico Coria last week – mainly on price – and both are in Q3 of this Buenos Aires draw, but Caruso at 50-1 with William Hill looks a fair bet.
Caruso has shown his quality on hard courts lately, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime on indoor hard and almost beating Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open, as well as being very close against Kecmanovic in Melbourne.
A return to the clay should suit and 50-1 looks too big in a half that features Paire and the injury prone Cristian Garin, who hasn’t played at all this season due to a wrist injury.
Albert Ramos will likely be fatigued after a long run in Cordoba, while Pablo Andujar looks past his best these days and looks plenty short enough at around 16-1.
Coria may go well again, but he’s short in price, too, as is the struggling Juan Igancio Londero, so I’ll side with Caruso as the value in the bottom half.
For once an ATP draw has been made nice and early and we have prices available, too, so an early look at Rotterdam leads me to take a small punt on Ugo Humbert at 33-1 and if you can get 30-1 about Bautista Agut and 75s on Opelka that looks the best of the value.
It’s not usually a tournament that provides big-priced winners, so just small stakes on these.
It’s taken an age for prices to arrive for Buenos Aires, but the value looks to be on Djere/Cecchinato in the top half if you can get the 28s and 40s and the 50s about Caruso.
0.5 points win Bautista Agut in Rotterdam at 30-1 (Paddy/Betfair)
0.5 points win Opelka in Rotterdam at 75-1 (Paddy/Betfair)
0.5 points win Humbert in Rotterdam at 33-1 (Paddy/Betfair)
0.5 points win Djere in Buenos Aires at 28-1 (Bet Victor)
0.5 points win Cecchinato in Buenos Aires at 40-1 (Unibet)
0.5 points win Caruso in Buenos Aires at 50-1 (William Hill)