The Erste Bank Open in Vienna and the St. Petersburg Open are this week’s two events on the ATP Tour, with some big names in action in these ATP 500 and ATP 250 tournaments on indoor hard courts.
Both events have been on the tour for some time now, so there’s a fair bit of history to look back on for those interested in trends, and in truth neither Vienna nor St. Petersburg have tended to produce that many underdog winners over the years.
Vienna averages 33% in its last nine years (32% since it became an ATP 500 in 2015) and St. Petersburg has averaged 31% in its last seven editions (in 2020 it was an ATP 500 event).
That said, the quarter final stage of Vienna has proven a great round to be backing dogs in over the years, with a huge 61% of them winning since it became an ATP 500, and that round on its own has saved Vienna from being a poor event for underdog backers.
You’d still be down by £50 (to a £10 stake) if you’d backed every single underdog in the last five years in Vienna, while in St. Petersburg you’d be out of pocket by £260 if you’d done the same.
Taking round one of both tournaments on their own, we find that St. Petersburg’s opening round has averaged 33% underdog winners in the last seven editions and made a loss of £126.50 if you’d backed them all to a £10 stake in the last five years, while R1 of Vienna has averaged 29% underdog winners since it became an ATP 500 (and a loss of £77.18 in the last five years if you’d backed them all).
Erste Bank Open, Vienna: Tuesday
Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is looking for his first title in nine tournaments since winning Lyon on the clay five months ago and he’s got a tough opening match against Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Tsitsipas here in Vienna a year ago.
That day, Dimitrov blew a 5-0 lead in the opening set tie break and won it in three when really he could have been off court much sooner, so the Bulgarian will be confident in this match-up on indoor hard.
Tsitsipas’ best results lately have tended to come on clay, where he has a bit more time on the backhand, and Dimitrov comes into this match in good spirits after making the semi finals of San Diego and Indian Wells.
Dimitrov was taken down by the solidity of Cam Norrie on a slow, high bouncing court in Indian Wells, but this will be more to his liking, with Tsitsipas having a much more aggressive approach in a clash of similar playing styles.
If we look at the stats of Tsitsipas over the last three months we can see that he’s not doing a lot wrong: 88% holds and 23% breaks (111 total), but it’s not quite as good as his clay numbers for the season: 88% holds and 28% breaks (116 total).
Not a massive difference, but he needs to improve his return game on hard courts and he didn’t break Dimitrov once in that Vienna clash 12 months ago, so all told I don’t mind Dimitrov either for the straight win or on the handicap here at the same price he was for this match last year.
Frances Tiafoe had a tough time of it in qualifying, spending 3h 41m and the full six sets to get past Alex Molcan and Lucas Miedler and I’m not sure he should be as short as 1.30 against Dusan Lajovic.
The pair have met three times – all on hard courts – and while Tiafoe has won two of them there’s little in the head-to-head numbers to suggest he should be 1.30 for this fourth career meeting.
Indeed, Lajovic has won more second serve points (56% compared to Tiafoe’s 50%), only 1% fewer first serve points and created more break point chances (0.56 per game compared to Tiafoe’s 0.50 per game).
He’s won a higher percentage of service and return points and won 13 more points overall across their three clashes, so Tiafoe at 1.30 looks short, especially considering he was 1.66 for their clash indoors in Antwerp a year ago and 1.56 in Miami this year when Tiafoe edged it in three sets.
The quicker conditions indoors will favour Tiafoe of course, but he’ll still do well to win this comfortably and the 4.30 (SBK) about Tiafoe winning it 2-1 at looks the bet here.
Casper Ruud just narrowly sneaked past Lloyd Harris on slow outdoor hard at Indian Wells a couple of weeks ago (there were just 74% holds at Indian Wells this year) and consequently Ruud is bigger at 1.80 than he was in California (1.60) for this rematch.
Harris took zero of his eight break chances in a match that on another day he could have won in straight sets and on indoor hard the South African has a decent chance of rushing Ruud a little more than he was ultimately able to do at Indian Wells.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is far from immune to the odd upset having been beaten five times (9-5 win/loss) this season when priced up shorter than 1.30, including in his most recent outing at Indian Wells.
FAA has only played that one (main level – he played one in Laver Cup) match since the US Open, having withdrawn from San Diego citing an adductor strain and he also withdrew from Antwerp, so he may well be at least tested by the more match sharp Ricardas Berankis.
Berankis played six matches last week in Moscow after getting into the main draw as a lucky loser and having made it to the semis in Russia he gets a special exemption into Vienna, where he hasn’t played since 2017.
That year he also got in with a special exemption, having made the Moscow final, but unfortunately for Berankis he drew the same player in Vienna that beat him in Moscow (Damir Dzumhur) and he lost again.
Looking at the stats of this pair on indoor hard at main level it’s Berankis (in his last 50 matches) whose numbers are better, with 80% holds and 24% breaks compared to the 81% and 19% of Auger-Aliassime (26 career matches).
They’ve both won 54% of their main level indoor matches and FAA has lost his last six indoor hard court matches, so there are reasons to consider siding with Berankis in this one against the inconsistent young Canadian.
It’ll be interesting to see how Cam Norrie gets on in his first match since landing the Indian Wells title a couple of weeks ago.
The conditions there play to Norrie’s strengths and he’s said in the past that the Rebound Ace indoor hard courts are good for his game, too, but Marton Fucsovics could well prove a tough nut to crack for Norrie in his first match indoors since March.
He has a fair bit to prove in these conditions with a 7-10 win/loss record on the main tour so far in his career and a best of one quarter final, so I wouldn’t be backing him at 1.58 against an opponent who played three matches indoors last week and on his day can find a high level.
Fucsovics has won 11 of his last 17 main level matches against left-handers and in only three of those 17 matches has he lost in straight sets, so you may well get a better price on Norrie in-play than the pre-match price of around 1.58, which feels a tad short (Norrie was 1.86 when he last faced Fucsovics in 2019).
We know that Filip Krajinovic – on his day – can be a match for the best players and indeed he should have taken a set from Novak Djokovic here a year ago, but it’s usually the same story with Krajinovic – should have.
He should have taken a set off Daniil Medvedev at Indian Wells and also off Djokovic both here and in Rome last season, but his 3-22 win/loss record against top-10 opponents is revealing when it comes to the outcome of matches like the one he faces against Alexander Zverev.
He definitely should have beaten Zverev when they faced each other on clay in Hamburg in 2019 when the Serb was a set and 5-2 up and went on to lose seven games in a row and essentially the match, so I think I’ll pass on Krajinovic here.
St. Petersburg Open: Tuesday
The one player I had it in mind to back once the St. Petersburg draw was complete was Emil Ruusuvuori against Taylor Fritz, but the layers have made the Finn the favourite at around 1.80 on the opening show, so that’s a no-bet for me at that price.
If Tommy Paul has one of his off days then Pedro Martinez is more than good enough to take advantage on a fairly slow surface, as he showed last week against the aforementioned Krajinovic.
Having got what I feel is a value price of 50-1 on Paul it would be disappointing for him to lose in round one, but by no means would it be a surprise result.
I’m not sure how fit Ilya Ivashka is right now having withdrawn from Sofia and Indian Wells citing a back injury as the issue and then, despite playing three matches in the doubles in Moscow he withdrew from the singles due to fatigue.
Usually it’s the other way around – players ditching the doubles to just play singles if they’re tired/injured – so that’s an odd one and in slowish conditions it might be worth chancing Laslo Djere to beat Ivashka on fitness.
So, nothing in St Petersburg for me on Tuesday, but I’ll take three in Vienna.
1 point win Dimitrov to beat Tsitsipas at 3.10 (Betfair/Unibet)
1 point win Berankis to beat Auger-Aliassime at 3.40 (generally)
1 point win Tiafoe to beat Lajovic 2-1 at 4.30 (SBK)