Round two of the 2021 Miami Open begins on Friday at the Hard Rock Stadium and with another 16 matches on the card on day three of the main draw, Sean Calvert is back to assess the betting markets and value bets.
A disappointing round one of the Miami Open concluded on Thursday, with Federico Delbonis failing to take his opportunity in what turned out to be the all-important set one tie break against Jordan Thompson.
Delbonis led *5-4 and had a set point that he was in control of, but as has been the case so often in his career, he let himself down at the key moment. “In the first set I had some chances,” Delbonis admitted. “At the time of set point I was wrong in how I played the point.”
My second bet of the day was a void when Thiago Monteiro pulled out of his clash with Kevin Anderson, but just to add a bit of salt, Anderson did play a set one tie break – even against the mighty serving power of Damir Dzumhur.
Moving on to round two and after two very hot and humid days that have contributed to a few retirements and other physical struggles, we’re set for more of the same weather on Friday.
This round of the Miami Open has produced an average of 30% underdog winners in the last 10 years (34% in the last three years of the tournament) and it would have made you a profit in each of the last four years if you’d simply backed all of the underdogs in round two.
As far as tie break matches are concerned, round two has produced seven percent fewer such matches than round one – only 34% compared to the 41% of round one – in the last 10 Miami Opens.
But if ever a match had ‘tie breaks’ written all over it it’s the one between Alexei Popyrin and Reilly Opelka.
We all know about big serving Opelka’s limitations on return and propensity for a breaker or three, but Popyrin isn’t far behind at the moment.
The Aussie’s success this season has largely been built on a great tie break record (he’s won 80% of the ones he’s played so far in 2021) and he’s played a lot of them: 15 in the 37 sets he’s played at main level thus far in 2021 (0.41 tie breaks per set).
That’s close to Opelka’s 0.48 tie breaks per set so far in 2021 and I’m a little tempted by the 14-1 on offer at Bet 365 that there’ll be three breakers in this match.
Yes, the conditions aren’t the quickest, but nor were they in Rotterdam where he played three tie break sets against Marton Fucsovics and he also played three breakers against Daniil Medvedev here in Miami the last time the event was held in 2019.
Over 1.5 breakers at 3.75 is a fair enough bet in this one given the players involved and the timing of the match in the sunshine at 11am local time.
On the subject of breakers that brings me to John Isner, a man who’s played nine tie break sets in his last 12 sets at the Miami Open, but today he’s facing an opponent that has an interesting record against big servers.
Mackenzie McDonald has played nine matches versus the ‘big servers’ in my database and in 21 sets against them only three have been tie breaks (and one of those was earlier this week in qualies against Ivo Karlovic).
Seven of his nine opening sets have finished 6-3 and he’s shown he’s a match for Milos Raonic by beating the Canadian as a 5.91 chance in quick conditions in Shanghai in 2018 and taking a set off Raonic at Wimbledon as a 7.95 shot.
His opponent Isner looks pretty rusty at the moment and I am tempted by the 6-3 or 6-4 to McDonald in set one here at 11.0 (Bet 365) and 6.50 respectively given that McDonald already has three matches under his belt in Miami this week.
And this one is a night match, so the conditions should be at their slowest, perhaps allowing McDonald a touch more time to get a look at that Isner serve.
As for straight match odds bets today, Marcos Giron, Dusan Lajovic, Dan Evans, look fair prices, but perhaps some of the value has gone now on Lajovic and Evans, who both opened as underdogs.
Lajovic is too good a player to be underdog against Ernesto Escobedo and especially on a slowish surface, while the level that Evans has shown lately suggests he’s now more or less the right price as favourite against Frances Tiafoe.
I quite like the 2-1 to Evans in that Tiafoe match at around 4.33, with Tiafoe’s power likely to have its moments against the Brit and I mentioned the other day about how many of Tiafoe’s matches, both here in Miami and generally, tend to go long.
Taylor Fritz doesn’t have a good record in Miami so far in his career, with three straight round one losses to his name versus Marterer, Herbert and Kohlschreiber, and maybe it’s a little too slow for him here.
I’m also not totally convinced about Fritz in this very hot and humid weather, so Giron is a possibility, despite the 0-3 head-to-head in favour of Fritz.
Fritz edged their last clash 9-7 in a final set tie break in Newport Beach in 2019 when he was a 1.33 chance and today he’s a lot bigger at 1.55, so perhaps not fabulous value on Giron.
Others who could make their presence felt as underdogs today include Yannick Hanfmann, who may be able to press the struggling Karen Khachanov; Cam Norrie, who should enjoy the slow conditions against Grigor Dimitrov (Dimitrov hasn’t won back-to-back matches in Miami since 2016 and lost to Jordan Thompson the last time he came here in 2019); and Lloyd Harris, whose big game is firing right now and it may be enough to trouble Roberto Bautista Agut, whose record in Miami isn’t great either.
So, a few more attractive options today for me than the first two days and I’ll take two wagers on day three in Miami.
0.5 points win over 1.5 tie breaks in Popyrin/Opelka at 3.75 (Bet 365)
0.5 points win McDonald to win set one 6-3 at 11.0 (Bet 365)