Round three of the men’s singles at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open completes at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Tuesday, with seven matches scheduled on day six of the main draw.
There are only seven because John Isner withdrew from his slated clash with Jannik Sinner to attend the birth of his third child, which gives our man Sinner a walkover to face either Matteo Berrettini or Taylor Fritz in round four.
If that was a bit of luck, then it was all the fortune we had on day five, with both of our big-priced wagers losing from winning positions: Filip Krajinovic messed up an overhead to effectively lead 5-2 in his second set against Daniil Medvedev, while Andrey Rublev was a 1.21 chance to beat Tommy Paul 2-1 from a starting price of 4.33
Krajinovic was 1.36 in-play to win a set from his starting price of 4.80, so both bets made for great trades, but both go down as losses in the profit and loss stats.
We’re expecting a slightly cooler day on Tuesday at around 25C in the shade and wind speeds of only 6mph, so a pretty much perfect day for tennis is forecast.
We backed Taylor Fritz last week in San Diego, where local boy Fritz has played countless times, but he didn’t show a massive amount of motivation or display an advantageous knowledge of the conditions.
But I wonder if he’ll do it a week later (as is customary for many of my outrights) and take down Matteo Berrettini as underdog on Tuesday?
He’s done it before, beating Berrettini in their only prior career clash, which was at the Davis Cup Finals on indoor hard in 2019, when Fritz was a 2.78 chance, and that day the American seemed to have more energy in the final set.
These two are quite similar in their approach in terms of relying mainly on a biggish serve and forehand to do most of the damage and I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see a tie break in this one (although I wouldn’t bet on breakers at Indian Wells).
Berrettini withdrew from the doubles on Friday citing a neck injury, so his fitness has to be under at least a bit of a cloud, but it could perhaps be argued that his motivation is pretty high with the Tour Finals taking place in Turin this year.
He’s surely done enough already to qualify and I feel an upset is possible here, but the stats of their main level hard court matches in the last 12 months suggest that Fritz is priced about right.
Berrettini has a combined hold/break total of 110, while Fritz is on 101 and Fritz’s last 10 matches versus the current top-10 on hard courts at main level have seen him only hold serve 75% of the time (2-8 win/loss).
So, perhaps the best bet here is to take Berrettini to edge it 2-1 at around 4.20 (SBK).
I said in my outright preview that conditions here are pretty much ideal for Karen Khachanov and I don’t mind taking him as slight underdog against Pablo Carreno Busta.
The ball gets up nice and high here, perfectly into the strike zone for the Russian and he has time to set it up off the slow-paced surface.
I’m not so sure that the slow, high bouncing conditions favour PCB, whose one time past the last-32 here came thanks to a bye and two wins against clay types in Pablo Cuevas and Dusan Lajovic.
PCB has won only 33% of his main level matches against opponents over 6’4” in height and lost nine of his last 15 against them, while Khachanov has won three of the last four against the Spaniard.
The most recent of those came on hard courts at the Olympic semi finals a few months back and that day the Russian was able to move around his backhand to fire a forehand, which he should be able to do again in these slow conditions.
PCB just couldn’t handle Khachanov that day and if we look at the stats of their last three clashes on outdoor hard courts they’re overwhelmingly in favour of Khachanov.
Khachanov has held serve 97% of the time (PCB just 74% of the time), won 82% of his first serve points (PCB 66%) and tellingly 67% of his second serve points (PCB 49%), with PCB creating only five break point chances in three matches (Khachanov 11 chances).
PCB has only broken the Russian once in those three matches and if we extend the series to the other match played between the pair on outdoor hard (which was back in 2017) it does little to reduce the dominance of Khachanov in the overall stats.
Two players who’ve struggled of late face each other when Cristian Garin and Alex De Minaur clash and I don’t mind taking the underdog in this one.
De Minaur had won only one match (and he got bageled in that match) since winning the Eastbourne title on a grass surface that’s much more suited to his game than either clay or slow hard courts before this week and a barely convincing win over Aleksandar Vukic tells us little about his prospects at Indian Wells this week.
On the face of it the high bounce and lack of pace in these Plexipave courts and their similarity to clay would suggest that De Minaur is likely to struggle against better opposition than Vukic and Garin may be able to profit here.
Garin came to Indian Wells on a run of three wins in eight matches since Wimbledon, but these courts should be better-suited to his game than the faster Laykold courts in use during the US Open Series.
The Chilean had never played at Indian Wells prior to this week, but history has shown that clay courters do go well here in these clay-like conditions and if Garin and De Minaur faced off on clay we wouldn’t be seeing Garin as a 2.40 underdog.
ADM needs a quick, low bouncing surface (such as grass or fast hard/indoor hard) to get the most out of his weakish serve and flat groundies and he won’t get that here, so I’m happy to take a chance on Garin in these conditions.
Gael Monfils is playing pretty well at the moment and you would expect him in these slow conditions to be able to nullify the game of Kevin Anderson, while I’d expect Stefanos Tsitsipas to beat Fabio Fognini, too.
Andy Murray is an interesting one against Alexander Zverev, with the Brit having won all three clashes against the German, including their most recent one in New York last year when Murray was underdog.
Zverev wasn’t in the sort of form then that’s he’s shown lately, but if Murray has one of his good days then he’ll be able to make Zverev move into areas that he’s not that comfortable in and you feel that the German will need one of his best serving days to keep Murray at bay.
It doesn’t really appeal to me from a betting perspective, though, with Murray so up and down these days.
Talking of up and down, that leads me to conclude with Nikoloz Basilashvili, who until this year has rarely enjoyed his visits to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with zero main draw wins.
Conditions should suit him, with the slow surface allowing plenty of time on the ball to tee up his powerful groundies and we’ve seen how effective he can be on clay in those sorts of conditions.
I’ve done very well with him this season, but only on big-priced outrights and I wouldn’t back the hit and miss Georgian at 1.70 to beat Albert Ramos, who’ll surely mop things up if Basil is misfiring.
The result of their one prior clash is typical Basil: 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 and it’s often worth looking at backing Basil to lose sets either 0-6 or 1-6 because when he goes off the boil he really does go and I’ll be looking at the correct set score markets in-play in this one.
For the record, Basil has 18-7 win/loss at main level when priced up between 1.61 and 1.79 (9-3 on outdoor hard), winning 11 of his last 14.
But he’s not for me today and I’ll take Khachanov, Garin and a punt on Berrettini 2-1 as my bets for today.
1 point win Khachanov to beat Carreno Busta at 2.0 (generally)
1 point win Garin to beat De Minaur at 2.40 (Unibet)
0.5 points win Berrettini to beat Fritz 2-1 at 4.20 (SBK)