The first Masters 1000 tournament of the 2021 season begins its main draw on Wednesday and Sean Calvert is back to find some value bets in round one of the men’s singles at the Miami Open.
We’re back at the Hard Rock Stadium for the Miami Open and while it’ll be a little different this year without the superstars of the men’s tour and a seriously reduced attendance it’s still one of the biggest tournaments of the season.
Masters 1000s aren’t usually the best events for underdog backers, but round one in Miami bucks that trend, with a very healthy 44% of the betting underdogs winning in this round in the last three years and 41% on average in the last 10 years.
No other round in Miami comes close to the frequency of underdog winners that round one produces, with 30% in round two, 23% in round three, 25% in round four, 26% in the quarters and 18% and 20% in the semis and final respectively.
If you’d backed every underdog in round one in the last two years for just £10 you’d have turned that tenner into £140, while if you’d backed every underdog in rounds one and two in the last five years (for £10 each bet again) you’d have £263.52 in your pocket.
I talked about the playing conditions in my outright preview and we can see that it’s usually on the slower side in Miami from the service holds: an average of 78% in its last four years (and 78% as well in the only event so far played at the Hard Rock Stadium).
A pretty average 37% of Miami’s main draw matches have produced a tie break in the last 10 years and round one has produced 41% tie break matches in the last decade.
There are 16 matches on the card for Wednesday and it’ll be another warm and humid day in Miami, with 27C heat in the shade and humidity of between 65-70%, so a tough test for the players is expected.
It doesn’t look a massively appealing opening day, but I have the following underdogs on my shortlist for Wednesday: Stefano Travaglia, Paulo Lorenzi, Steve Johnson, Mischa Zverev and Carlos Alcaraz.
Starting with Stefano Travaglia, then, and he takes on Frances Tiafoe in the night match at 8:30pm local time in what will be a second career meeting after Tiafoe beat the Italian as a 1.47 chance at the Australian Open in February.
In what will be much slower conditions at night there’s every chance that Travaglia could upset the inconsistent American, but the bets I like here are to back a tie break being played or the overs.
Tiafoe’s record at playing breakers is incredible lately, with 11 tie break sets played in his last seven main level matches – and most of those were either on clay or slow outdoor hard.
Indeed, here in Miami, Tiafoe has played at least one tie break in eight of his last nine matches and when they last played at the Hard Rock he played three tie break matches from four.
He’s currently playing 0.36 tie breaks per set this season and in Miami he’s played as many as 0.44 per set in his career so far.
He’s also gone to at least 23 games in nine of his 12 main level matches in Miami and the three that were under were all 22 total games, so ‘tie break in match’ at 2.38 with Sky Bet looks pretty good (if you can get more than 50 pence on).
The 2.60 with Bet365 that the game goes over 22.5 games and has a tie break in it is another option for that bet.
Steve Johnson played his first match of the season in Acapulco last week and wasn’t very good against Laslo Djere, but if he’s shaken off the rustiness now I don’t mind risking him as underdog against Yannick Hanfmann.
The big German is much more at home on the clay and in his main level career he’s 0-4 win/loss, breaking serve just 6.3% of the time in those matches and only holding 79.5% of the time, which you’d think should be higher for a big server like Hanfmann.
He’s only won one of his last six matches, having lost to Matthias Bourge at the Biella Challenger last week after being crushed by Egor Gerasimov in Marseille, so he’s not exactly in form.
This one is set for mid-afternoon when it’ll be hot, with the courts at their quickest and bouncy, so a good serving day may do the job for Johnson here.
Mischa Zverev doesn’t play that much these days, but he looked okay against Matteo Viola yesterday and he may well still be good enough to beat an out of form James Duckworth, whose recent results have been poor.
Duckworth lost alst week to number 400 Michael Redlicki in Cleveland and prior to that clay courter Andrea Arnaboldi beat him in Biella after a loss to Prajnesh Gunneswaran in Nur-Sultan.
He’s only beaten opponents ranked outside the top-500 since the Australian Open and I couldn’t back him as favourite here, with Zverev looking likely to put more of an effort in here in this M1000 than he does in some other events.
One of my old favourites (old being the operative word) is Paulo Lorenzi, who’s tempting as a 4.33 chance against fellow qualifier Ernesto Escobedo.
I’m not sure if the 38-year-old has quite got enough left in his legs these days, but the layers are tempting us to back him against a talented but inconsistent opponent in Escobedo.
I’ll probably leave that one, but Escobedo looks a tad short and we may see a big effort from the Italian veteran in this one.
Conditions should suit Carlos Alcaraz, who gets a night match against the often-underwhelming Emil Ruusuvuori on Court 1 at 7pm local time.
It’ll be an interesting match-up, with Ruusuvuori’s power perhaps likely to be blunted a bit by the slower courts and evening conditions, so the young Spaniard should fancy his chances in that one.
0.5 points win tie break in match in Tiafoe/Travaglia at 2.38 (Sky Bet)
0.5 points win Zverev to beat Duckworth at 2.38 (several firms)
0.5 points win Johnson to beat Hanfmann at 2.05 (several firms)