Round one of the San Diego Open and the Sofia Open continues on Tuesday on the ATP Tour and we have a busier day in prospect on day two, with 12 matches scheduled across this week’s two ATP 250 events.
It was the expected tricky day for underdog backers on Monday, with our outsider Fabio Fognini failing to get the job done against Brandon Nakashima from a set up and a break up in the final set, thanks in no small part to the 11 double faults he came up with.
The man we backed last week as underdog, Benoit Paire, of course, came up with an underdog win a week later, while Gianluca Mager delivered a superb performance to oust a disappointing Adrian Mannarino in Sofia.
Starting in Sofia on Tuesday then and Dimitar Kuzmanov always gets a wild card here, but he’s yet to win a match in five attempts and the only (completed) matches he’s won on the ATP Tour came at the ATP Cup last year, one of which was against the world number 816.
The other one was against a Steve Darcis that was two matches away from retirement, so it’s hard to see him having the level to beat Lorenzo Musetti, although the latter hasn’t looked at it lately.
A set could be possible for Kuzmanov on Musetti’s recent form.
Similarly, Alexandar Lazarov’s only two main tour appearances have been here in Sofia and he lost both without winning a set and he looks up against it versus Filip Krajinovic (this match is on Wednesday).
This price of 1.08 will be the shortest that Krajinovic has ever started a main level match (excluding Davis Cup) and he has lost once before (5-1 win/loss) when priced up sub-1.20 at this level.
That was against Nikola Milojevic at Roland Garros last season and only twice in those six matches would you say he’s won comfortably: one went to five sets, another four sets and another a very tight two.
Maybe backing Lazarov to start well is an option there.
On current form you’d fancy Mikael Ymer to come out on top against John Millman, but I couldn’t back Ymer at this price of around 1.60.
Millman hasn’t looked fully fit for a while, but Ymer is too short considering he’s only held serve 65% of the time in his last 10 main level matches on indoor hard.
There isn’t that much between Jaume Munar and Marcos Giron on their serving stats at main level on indoor hard, with Munar actually holding slightly more often at 78.4% compared to the 77% of Giron.
The problem for Munar is that he only breaks 13% of the time (Giron 18%), but he’s won more points on second serve than Giron, too (50% compared to 47%) and you know you’ll get a full effort from the Spaniard.
Giron’s been playing well lately and he should win this, but I can’t imagine it’ll be easy and the 2-1 to the American here or over games both look fair options, with Munar not easy to beat in straight sets on hard courts.
In his last 11 main level completed hard court matches Munar has only lost in straight sets twice and both of those losses featured a tie break, so I’ll chance the 2-1 to Giron here at 4.0.
Another one I like in Sofia isn’t playing until Wednesday when you can back a man who’s made back-to-back finals in the last two weeks at around 2.80 to get a win in round one this week.
That man is James Duckworth, who’s improved considerably this season under the watchful eye of coach Wayne Arthurs, and the Aussie now sits at a career high of 56, having started the year outside the top-100.
That’s some effort at the age of 29 and he’s now actually over 30 places higher in the rankings than the inconsistent Emil Ruusuvuori, whose high-risk game needs some tweaking you feel to become more reliable.
In the last three months at main level, it’s Duckworth that leads the way on the stats, with better numbers than the Finn in service holds, first serve points won and second serve points won.
He has a higher combined hold/break total than Ruusuvuori (102.4 compared to 100.5) and that advantage on serve (84% holds compared to 77%) could be key in lively conditions indoors at altitude.
Ruusuvuori’s peak level, you feel, is higher than Duckworth’s, but the Finn can be very hit and miss and with the Australian’s confidence currently about as high as it can be I don’t mind this price on Duckworth.
The worry with him is fatigue after a lot of matches these past few weeks, but I think it’s worth the risk at 2.80 (Bet Victor) now that he’s been given a Wednesday start.
Finally in Sofia, you’d probably expect tie breaks in these conditions when qualifier Egor Gerasimov and last year’s finalist Vasek Pospisil square off.
But Andy Murray broke Pospisil four times in two sets last week in Metz and while Gerasimov is no Murray, this pair haven’t produced many tie breaks lately on indoor hard and Gerasimov has actually broken serve 25.6% of the time in his last 10 main level matches indoors.
Pospisil has broken 20.5% of the time in his last 10 indoors and only played three tie break sets in his last 24 in these conditions, so even with Sofia’s altitude I’m not sure I’m seeing much value in backing tie breaks in this one.
Moving on to San Diego now and the first underdog that appeals there is Dominik Koepfer, who beat Cam Norrie in straight sets on outdoor hard in Acapulco in March in the quarter finals of that that event.
Koepfer should have won that match a little easier than he eventually did, having won almost 20% more points on his first serve than Norrie that day and in typical Koepfer style he fell over the line in the end on his fifth match point (having gone 0-40 down trying to serve it out).
Neither man has played since straight sets defeats at the US Open (Koepfer to Medvedev and Norrie to Alcaraz) and Norrie, who was alternate for the Laver Cup last week, is now on a run of five defeats from seven matches since winning Los Cabos.
Norrie has lost six of his last eight main level matches on hard courts against fellow left-handers, such as Koepfer, and I don’t mind risking the somewhat unreliable Koepfer at a bigger price to the 2.56 that he was in Acapulco.
Now he’s a 3.0 chance (Bet Victor) and that price does appeal in this match-up.
One of our outrights in the top half of the draw, Taylor Fritz, safely made his way through round one on Monday, but still needed a tie break against Salvatore Caruso and our other outright hope, Lloyd Harris, may well have to do the same.
He faces big-serving Christopher Eubanks, who’s played at least one tie break in seven of his last eight main level matches and in 12 of his 19 career matches at main level.
Against Harris, he’s played three tie breaks in his last eight sets and in their last three meetings (it’s 3-1 to Harris overall) Harris has held 89% of the time and Eubanks 82%.
Eubanks actually won their most recent meeting in slower conditions than these at Indian Wells on their Plexipave surface and even that went to 7-5, 7-5, with Eubanks not being broken and breaking with the only two break chances of the match.
You’d think in quicker conditions on a Laykold surface and with Eubanks having warmed up nicely with two qualifying matches that tie breaks are likely here and 4.80 (Unibet) about over 12.5 games in set one or the 2.32 about tie break played seem decent.
Elsewhere, I’d expect Seb Korda to overcome Tommy Paul, but Korda hasn’t exactly been active lately (neither has Paul) and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that one maybe go to three sets.
I wouldn’t consider getting involved in the clash between two highly inconsistent and injury prone types in Marton Fucsovics and Grigor Dimitrov, while Andy Murray is a possible option against Kei Nishikori.
Nishi hasn’t played since the US Open, while Murray has five matches under his belt since then, but is switching surfaces from indoor hard to outdoor.
The Brit has had much the better of their career series in the past, winning nine of their 11 clashes and Nishikori has only held serve 59% of the time against Murray (Murray holds 78% of the time against Nishi).
So, it’s been a bad match-up for the Japanese over the years, but they’ve not faced each other since 2017 and much has changed since then, with Murray overcoming a career-threatening injury.
Murray’s tough to call these days, but I couldn’t back Nishi as favourite in this match-up.
So, a few options for today and Wednesday that look decent value and I’ll take the following four:
1 point win Duckworth to beat Ruusuvuori at 2.80 (Bet Victor)
1 point win Koepfer to beat Norrie at 3.0 (Bet Victor)
0.5 points win Giron to beat Munar 2-1 at 4.0 (generally)
0.5 points win over 12.5 games in set one of Harris/Eubanks at 4.80 (Unibet)