Although I have backed Cem Ilkel on a number of occasions over the years, however today in Indian Wells there is next to no appeal in any aspect of his odds or handicap.
An almighty amount of water has gone under the bridge since these two met twice in 10 days in February in the Potchefstroom 1 & 2 Challenger tournaments. Ilkel won the first battle 6-3 6-4, before Brooksby flipped the script and learned from his mistakes, winning 6-1 6-4. It is worth noting that although these two head to head meetings were only 8 months ago on the same surface, that Brooksby had an ATP ranking of 315 at the time, using his protected ranking. Fast forward to October and Brooksby is in the Top 100 and on the radar of most year-round tennis watchers. Even casual viewers are likely to have seen him put up a tremendous fight against Novak Djokovic at the US Open before fatigue got the better of him.
Outside of the Novak loss, and losses to bigger strikers off the ground in Sinner and Basilashvili, Brooksby has shown himself as being suited to most styles, and the slower conditions in Indian Wells look ideal for the American. Whilst it can be tough trying to marry up Challenger form with ATP level form and Slam form, it is hard to feel compelled by the prices on Ilkel in my opinion. He lacks the ability to earn cheap points on his serve, which is important against a player like Brooksby, and his second serve is likely to be vulnerable here in this style of match-up.
Ilkel has a career 2-8 record on hardcourts against Top 100 players, with wins over Berankis and Lacko. Whilst his game has steadily improved, it is worth noting that in 7 of those 8 losses, which were all in straight sets, he has dropped at least one set with a score of 2-6 or 1-6. Whilst he may have improved, he just hasn’t been able to take that step to being competitive at the top level, and it is hard to see him overcoming Brooksby based on the body of form produced over the majority of the 2021 season.
With the odds close to even money, I am happy to take a 1.5 unit selection here on Brooksby at the game handicap.
1.5 units Brooksby -5 games vs Ilkel at $1.96 at Topsport ($1.99 at Pinnacle)
Other Match Thoughts:
– Considering a play on Martinez -4.5 games vs Marcora (will report back in the morning AEDT).
– Considering a play on Sasnovich +4.5 games vs Raducanu (will report back in the morning AEDT).
– Will pass, however don’t mind Nishioka -2.5 games vs Delbonis and Gomez -2.5 games vs Bagnis, both at greater than $2 (+100)
– No play, but strongly considered Samsonova/Kudermetova over 21.5 games and Swiatek -5 games vs Martic.
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