ATP Dubai – Wednesday preview

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There’s round three action from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, with eight matches on the schedule for Sean Calvert to assess from a value betting perspective.

We’re down to the last-16 in Dubai after a disappointing day for underdog backers on Tuesday when the first 11 betting favourites were successful (12 if you count Roberto Bautista Agut’s win by retirement over Matt Ebden) and only one ‘proper’ underdog won all day.

That was Lloyd Harris, the man I talked about in yesterday’s preview, who did indeed take down top seed Dominic Thiem, but the price wasn’t big enough for me to press the button on Harris.

Kei Nishikori and Filip Krajinovic were marginal underdog winners, but all in all it was another great day for the favourites.

Our two underdogs fell in contrasting ways, with Jan-Lennard Struff running into a Denis Shapovalov on peak form, while Alexei Popyrin really wasted his chances of beating Karen Khachanov with some poor errors (notably two missed overheads at vital times) late in the deciding set of that one.

Wednesday’s play sees all eight round three matches on the schedule, starting from 10am UK time (2pm local) when it’s set to be hot again at 31C in the shade for the afternoon session, so the courts will play on the quick side once more.

On the outright front, the withdrawal of Borna Coric was annoying because our plan to get Thiem beaten early on worked out and now one of Harris, Krajinovic, Bedene, Nishikori, Shapovalov, Hurkacz, Chardy or Khachanov will contest the final.

And it’s hard to pick one of out that list, but the one I’ll take a chance on today is Hubert Hurkacz against Denis Shapovalov.

The big Pole looked in very good form against an admittedly still struggling Richard Gasquet on Tuesday and he has the sort of power that can rush Shapo into mistakes on a court as quick as this.

Shapo says that he likes quick court because they favour his game, but I’m not totally convinced about that and while he was very good indeed against Struff on Tuesday, we’ll see if he can back it up on Wednesday.

Consistency has been a problem for Shapovalov lately, with some disappointing losses after bright starts in tournaments, such as when he was beaten in straight sets at the Australian Open by Felix Auger-Aliassime and in Doha last week when Taylor Fritz got the better of him.

On bad days the serve can go totally AWOL and Hurkacz should fancy this, having beaten Shapovalov in two of their three career meetings.

Indeed, Hurkacz has a great record against left-handers, winning 16 of his last 17 matches at all levels and he’s 10-1 win/loss against lefties at main level in his career so far, so it’s fair to say Hurkacz loves to face a left-hander.

The Pole’s price of 2.70 (Betfair) looks the best value around on Wednesday ahead of other possibilities, such as Taylor Fritz, Jeremy Chardy, Jannik Sinner and Lloyd Harris.

Our 50-1 outright, Fritz, had to toil once again against Nikoloz Basilashvili, but just about got the job done on Tuesday and if his clash with Andrey Rublev was in the afternoon I might be tempted to back the American agaian.

Similarly to Shapovalov, my feeling is that Rublev prefers slightly slower conditions to those on offer in Dubai, but Rublev vs Fritz is set for around 9pm local time, which isn’t ideal.

There again, I let the scheduling put me off backing Harris against Thiem, so maybe it will work in Fritz’s favour as well. He won’t be scared of Rublev having beaten him before (Indian Wells) and run him close on another occasion (Next Gen Finals).

It’s surely asking too much for two bets on Jeremy Chardy to be successful in the space of a few days, so I’ll leave him on Wednesday, but I’d expect the Frenchman to go close against Karen Khachanov and a repeat of their one prior meeting (7-6, 7-6 to Khachanov) is possible.

Khachanov was a little fortunate to escape against Popyrin and Chardy should fancy his chances in that one, as should Lloyd Harris against Filip Krajinovic.

I said in yesterday’s preview that Harris’s level lately was very good and if he keeps it up he could well go far this week now after beating Thiem.

Krajinovic had to self-isolate last week in Doha after his physio tested positive for Covid and while the Serb seemed in good order in a win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday, we’ll see how he copes with an opponent who has much more power than the Spaniard on Wednesday.

Roberto Bautista Agut might have got a little lucky in the sense that he only had to play five games on Tuesday, while Wednesday’s opponent Jannik Sinner had to come from a set down in the heat.

I’m often a little sceptical about Sinner’s fitness and stamina and while the young Italian has the level to beat RBA, I don’t like these circumstances, and that puts me off him this time.

Another one who might not be at his best physically is Marton Fucsovics, who must be getting towards an empty tank after loads of tennis the last three weeks and maybe Dusan Lajovic can take advantage in a quick rematch of their Doha clash.

Fucsovics’ record with injuries would definitely put me off backing him on Wednesday despite the notion that he should fare better against Lajovic on a quicker court than last week’s one in Doha.

The other matches look priced about right and so my final wager for this week (unless there’s some hedging to be done on outrights later in the week) will be on Hurkacz.

Best Bet

0.5 points win Hurkacz to beat Shapovalov at 2.70 (Betfair)