With most of the big names away at the Olympics, there’s an opportunity for those not playing in Tokyo to grab an ATP 250 title in this week’s events in Kitzbuhel and Atlanta. Sean Calvert is back to take a look at the outright betting markets in both tournaments.
We had two quarter final losers, one loss in the last-16, one withdrawal (and a missed opportunity for me) to show for our efforts in week 29 in Gstaad, Los Cabos and Umag.
I didn’t take the 20-1 or 25-1 (I can’t remember which) about Brandon Nakashima from Bet Victor’s opening show and of course he went on to make the final there at the much shorter price of around 7-1.
My late entrant in the Los Cabos market, 66-1 Ernesto Escobedo, made the quarter finals and was generally a 14-1 shot at that time, but he was easily beaten by top seed Cam Norrie in that last eight clash.
I don’t mind taking a chance at prices like that though, as 66-1 was at least double the other prices out there and represented decent value.
Yannick Hanfmann withdrew in Gstaad before a ball was struck, so that one was stakes back, while Dusan Lajovic had horrible blisters on his feet and did well to make the last eight in Umag.
Conditions and trends
The clay courters are in action on the red dirt for the final time in 2021 as they stay at altitude and make the switch from Gstaad to Kitzbuhel.
There’s a little less altitude in Kitzbuhel (762m) but it still plays quickly and the type of player that’s done well here can include those usually more associated with hard courts or grass.
Denis Istomin made the final here as a qualifier in 2018 when it was a hot week and Miomir Kecmanovic won it last year.
It’s usually a very good event for qualifiers, with seven men from the qualie draw having made the semi finals in the last seven years.
Number one seeds have an awful record here, with Dominic Thiem in 2019 becoming the first man since Goran Ivanisevic in 1994 to lift the trophy as number one seed and Thiem was also the first top seed since Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2012 to even make the final.
It’s position in the calendar just before the hard court swing (and this year in the same week as the Olympics) has led to a number of big-priced winners and finalists and probably to a bit of apathy from the top seeds on their way to North America, too.
And the big question this week, if the weather forecast is correct, is will they finish the tournament? Thunderstorms and rain are forecast all week in Kitzbuhel, so if that’s accurate then conditions are likely to play slower than usual here.
It’s a very different story in Atlanta though, where it’ll be hot and they play on newly laid outdoor hard courts (last time in 2019 they were Sport Master surfaces) outside the Atlantic Station mall in downtown Atlanta.
It’s usually very hot and humid here and the top seed (John Isner) has won on four of the last seven editions and the number one seed has made at least the quarter finals in nine of Atlanta’s 10 years on the tour so far.
Ryan Harrison made the final here a couple of times at a decent price, but it’s been won every year bar two (Roddick, seeded four in 2012, and Fish, seeded six in 2010) by one of the top three seeds.
Generali Open Kitzbuhel
So, Kitzbuhel is an event where top seeds almost always fail and I wonder if that will be the case again this week with Casper Ruud now that the draw has rather annoyingly changed at the last minute.
Ruud is coming off back-to-back titles in Bastad and Gstaad and I was thinking that perhaps the only thing that might halt him in his tracks this week is possible fatigue or injury after two long weeks on the clay.
He didn’t play much tennis in Bastad though (only six quick sets) and not that much more in Gstaad, so it’s probably more a hopeful suggestion that he might be feeling it a little by the time he gets to Kitzbuhel.
Ruud’s draw was looking very decent for the Norwegian, but the withdrawals of Richard Gasquet and Aljaz Bedene means that Umag champion Carlos Alcaraz has been moved from the bottom half to the top half and may well meet Ruud in the last eight.
I say ‘may meet’, but it’s looking very likely that they will unless there’s a sizeable upset in rounds one and two, with Alcaraz facing wild card Alexander Erler (ranked 339) and then Cuevas or Mikael Ymer, while Ruud will have the winner of lucky loser Mario Vilella Martinez (158) and qualifier Lukas Neumayer (1171).
So, Q1 is surely between Alcaraz and Ruud and it was the Spaniard that won in straight sets when the pair met in Marbella in April, but now he’s coming from sea level to altitude and with a strapped up arm, while Ruud played at altitude last week, too.
Q2 is interesting, with Filip Krajinovic, Arthur Rinderknech and Federico Delbonis all in there with a chance and I like Rinderknech the most in Q2.
We saw in Gstaad what he can do on his day in these quicker conditions at altitude when he beat Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets, but his draw first up could have been kinder against Delbonis.
Indeed, that whole second quarter looks tricky, with Krajinovic also in there, alongside the dangerous Thiago Seyboth Wild, lucky loser Carlos Taberner and Stefano Travaglia, who started to show a return to form last week.
Krajinovic is too short for me though on the basis that he’s very inexperienced at altitude, never having played Gstaad or Kitzbuhel in the past and his only match in Madrid ended in a straight sets loss to Yoshihito Nishioka.
Now he has to come from two weeks at sea level in Hamburg and Umag and also probably beat one of Ruud or Alacaraz (Alcaraz beat Krajinovic in Umag last week) I’m not risking Krajinovic this week on that basis.
In the bottom half, Laslo Djere, who we backed the other week in Hamburg, again made the semis in Gstaad and is an obvious possibility here in Kitzbuhel, where he was a final set tie break away from making the final last September.
He lost out to Yannick Hanfmann that day and he faces a similarly big hitting sort of opponent in round one this time in Daniel Altmaier, which could be tricky.
The negative for Altamier is that he’s played a ton of tennis in the last few weeks and was still in Umag at sea level on Saturday night, so he won’t have much time to acclimatise to the very different conditions in Kitzbuhel.
He’s also quite inexperienced at playing at this altitude, so I’m not so sure about the German this week.
Albert Ramos is the high seed in this quarter and his last two meetings with Djere (one of them here in Kitzbuhel in September) have ended in defeat and Djere should have the edge again having played at altitude last week while Ramos was at sea level in Umag until Saturday night.
So, I expect Djere will probably win that quarter.
Q4 looks a fair bit easier for those that remain in it after Carlos Alcaraz was moved into Q1 when Gasquet withdrew and it leaves the quarter open for Roberto Bautista Agut, or so it seems on paper.
This is RBA’s Kitzbuhel debut and he’s gone well in Gstaad in the past, however I do wonder about his motivation for this ahead of the hard court swing, although he’s not due to be playing Washington next week.
If he’s focused he’ll be hard for the likes of Jiri Vesely, Ernests Gulbis, Lucas Pouille, Pedro Martinez, Jaume Munar or Jozef Kovalik to beat.
RBA beat Munar in consecutive years in Gstaad (2018 and 2019) and he beat Djere in Gstaad (2018), too, while he’s 4-0 head-to-head with Vesely, whose own record in Gstaad and Kitzbuhel is far from impressive.
So, if he’s up for it this week, RBA should be able to take advantage of Alcaraz’s exit from Q4 and make the final where he’d have a decent shot against Ruud or Alcaraz, who may struggle to back up his maiden title last week and with the big change in conditions.
It’s not a confident pick though and I’ll just have a small double on RBA and one in Atlanta.
Truist Atlanta Open
As usual, the Atlanta draw is packed with big servers and it’ll be a typically hot and sticky week in Georgia, with temperatures expected to reach 35C in the shade with 60% humidity in the daytime this week.
Our top seed is the returning Milos Raonic, who’s taken a wild card this week, after not having played since Miami back in March due to knee and calf problems.
He was offered a wild card into Los Cabos last week but decided not to take it and instead he’s been practicing with Nick Kyrgios in the Bahamas.
Raonic’s injury problems are such that he’s only made one final in the last three years and I can’t imagine extreme heat and humidity are likely to prove good conditions for the Canadian.
He’ll probably be beaten by Brandon Nakashima in round two and having beaten John Isner and Sam Querrey in Los Cabos last week it looks like it’ll be another test for the youngster against a slew of big servers.
Raonic in round two is likely to be followed by Querrey or maybe Lloyd Harris, while Kyrgios or Kevin Anderson are possible semi final opponents for Nakashima.
But it could instead be the man that beat Nakashima in that Los Cabos final, Cam Norrie, that makes it through to potentially face Nakashima in the Atlanta semis.
Norrie played very well in Los Cabos, but I wonder if the really hot and humid conditions will favour the bigger hitters more this week and an opening round clash with either his mate Kyrgios or Anderson looks far from easy.
Also in the top half is Benoit Paire, but I’ve seen him melt down totally in very hot conditions before (notably in Antalya) and he’s coming from clay at altitude, so very different conditions for him this week.
The one that could be interesting in Atlanta’s top half of the draw though is Lloyd Harris, whose last completed tournament on hard courts was when he made the final of Dubai as a qualifier.
That week he beat Thiem, Nishikori, Krajinovic and Shapovalov before losing to Karatsev in the final and after that he was on clay, which clearly doesn’t suit him, and then grass, which I expected him to go well on, but he still hasn’t taken to the green stuff yet.
He’s got an awkward one against Jordan Thompson first up, so it’s another one of those that’s risky because he could be beaten first up, but I don’t mind chancing Harris at 25-1 in conditions that should suit.
In the bottom half, Taylor Fritz looked to be in some discomfort in Los Cabos last week with a bicep problem, and he was pretty poor in his last couple of matches there, so Reilly Opelka looks the obvious choice to progress from Q3.
Opelka has a 6-3 record here, with two semi finals from his three main draw appearances, and while his 1-6 record against Fritz is an obvious concern I’d fancy him to turn that around in these conditions and considering how poor Fritz was at times in Los Cabos.
But maybe Alexei Popyrin could be a better value choice in Q3, with the Aussie unlikely to be unduly concerned by the heat and with a big game to go with it.
He beat Opelka easily in Miami earlier this year and I’ve seen little from Steve Johnson that would make me think he has another title in him lately.
Johnson is just 2-3 win/loss in Atlanta and if Fritz plays at a similar level this week to last I’d suggest that Popyrin could go well in Q3.
Q4 is where we find Atlanta legend John Isner, who’s 31-5 win/loss at this tournament, and it’s hard to bet against him in conditions that he clearly loves.
Isner’s lost just two of his last 25 matches in Atlanta (in three tie breaks to Opelka in 2019 and two tie breaks to Kyrgios in 2016) so it’s a rough draw for JJ Wolf in round one and wild card Jack Sock (or Ricardas Berankis) in round two.
Sock played pretty well in Newport on the grass, but he usually finds it too hot in Atlanta, where he’s lost four of his last five matches and is 6-6 win/loss overall.
He’s won three of his last five against Isner though, so I wouldn’t totally count him out if he’s going to continue to make an effort.
It’s not Isner that’s the number two seed though, it’s Jannik Sinner and this is a tough ask for the young Italian in this heat and humidity against Isner.
Isner always ups his game playing here and I doubt that Sinner will be able to cope with it in these conditions and given his lack of form lately and suspect stamina, so I’ll take Isner as the second half of a small double this week.
So, a bit of a disappointing outright market for me in Kitzbuhel that doesn’t offer much in the way of value, so I’ll just take a small double there on Bautista Agut combined with John Isner in Atlanta that ways 44-1.
My other bet in Atlanta is to take a point each-way on Lloyd Harris at 25-1, with Opelka and Popyrin possible value options in the bottom half of the draw.
1 point each-way Harris to win Atlanta at 25-1 (Unibet and others)
0.5 points double Bautista Agut/Isner at 44-1 (Bet 365 and others)