Jake’s Marseille Prices

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This is relatively off the cuff, but I’m going to price up the opening-round meetings in Montpellier before the odds are released.

I use an array of data points, as well as overlaying my own opinion about players. It’s not always down to the last cent, but usually pretty close.

Benjamin Bonzi ($2.14) vs. Alexander Shevchenko ($1.88)

Bonzi has been on a horror run of losses, but as long as he isn’t physically impaired, I don’t think it will be long before he jags a few victories again. The movement and power was still there against Michael Mmoh, and it’s worth mentioning the American played one of his best service games ever. Zero double faults and 79% of first serves in – the highest mark in the last 52 weeks. I want to do more work on short-term regression in the wake of performances like that, because based on how Bonzi looked during rallies, he was unlucky to not win a set.

I fellated Shevchenko before Montpellier, and I think he slightly underwhelmed me, although a three-sets loss against Bublik is forgivable given how the Kazakh has played throughout the week. I think the key here is the court speed. Marseille is notably faster than Montpellier, and if anyone can recall, Bonzi made the final here last year. I think the market will probably price Shevchenko shorter, but this exercise is boring if you aren’t aggressive, so I’ll look to be with Bonzi this week.

These two played at Antwerp in October last year (similar conditions), and Shevchenko went up $3. This is important to note, despite the contrasting recent history.

Andy Murray ($2.11) vs. Tomas Machac ($1.90)

I think this is a perfect example of how a punter can input non-numerical factors into a match, altering the way a price looks. After losing in three sets to Paire last week, the BBC suggested the 36-year-old should call time on his career, to which Murray responded:

Most people would quit and give up in my situation right now. But I’m not most people and my mind works differently.

I won’t quit. I will keep fighting and working to produce the performances I know I’m capable of.

Andy Murray

It’s occurrences like this that really make me want to buy into someone, and it wasn’t that long ago Murray was absolutely flying in conditions like these. He should benefit massively from the increased speed in the court, and I can’t say the same about his opponent.

Machac is a machine, and has won 36 matches on this surface in the last 52 weeks, almost three times as much as Murray. His data is better, and he’s obviously younger with more improvement on the horizon. I’m interested to see if there’s any sort of slow start from the Czech as he’s first-up off an Australian trip. If he’s rusty, you can bet Murray will be there to capitalise.

I’d love to have Murray favourite, but I really can’t. Hopefully the market reacts strongly to his form slump because I’d rather be on the Brit, here.

Emil Ruusuvouri $1.68) vs. Luca Van Assche ($2.48)

Ruusuvouri has to be a favourite, here. He was excellent in a five-sets loss to Daniil Medvedev and subsequent Davis Cup form has been strong. I think there was a period of time where the Fin was a sell. This was in the wake up his fairly quick rise to the tour’s top 75 or so, and his odds were slightly short. But, I think we’ve come full circle and as he’s matured a bit, he looks a buy. He doesn’t look like much, but he has bruising ground strokes from both wings and can really put away opponents. I think quick hard courts are perfect for him.

Luca Van Assche is a nice talent, but I think slightly behind Ruusuvouri. The shorter levers bring less power, although he’s a great scrambler with superior defensive abilities. At the Aussie Open A pair of five sets wins over Musetti and Duckworth were impressive, and I do expect a decent 2023 for him. We’ve got to remember he’s just 19 years of age, too. It makes me think: ‘sheesh, he really could be something in a few years, but also makes me wary of his week in, week out durability on the main tour.’

Gregoire Barrere ($3.23) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina ($1.45)

In top gear, Fokina should be winning this 6-3, 6-4. He has excellent shot-making ability, scintillating speed, and an overall great all-court game. This issue his best days are few and far between lately, and if he’s not there mentally, it can get ugly. He had a favourable draw at the Australian Open but bottled it against Nuno Borges, and I’d say after some time off, will be one to beat this week, although I’ve said that before.

I thought Barrere was fine against Shevchenko last week, and was as short as $1.60 in-play at stages during the second set. However, it’s quite clear what is career is. He’s a 29-year-old journeyman who can produce quality tennis on his best day, but simply doesn’t have the variation to win consistently at the top level.

That being said, the sheer volatility of Fokina keeps Barrere in the market.

Felix Auger-Aliassime ($1.28) vs. Quentin Halys ($4.55)

This really isn’t an exciting match for me. Halys has been quite out of form since a purple patch last season. I don’t think it’s an injury, I just think regression from a period of drastic over-achievement.

Auger-Aliassime obviously has the upside, but is still not at his best. That being said, his best form is reserved for venues like this and he should joy the increased pace.

Zhizhen Zhang ($2.27) vs. Alexandre Muller ($1.79)

I’ll put my hand up and say I’m a little unsure about this one. Zhang certainly has the upside and the impressive career wins thus far, but he’s first-up off an appearance in Australian and Muller is well-accustomed to playing in conditions like this. Zhang’s indoor hard court exposure is limited, especially in Europe. He’s played one match on indoor hard courts in last 12 months, so I do think there could be an adjustment period. Muller is an above average returner and I think should be getting the nod from the oddsmakers.

Roberto Bautista-Agut $1.54 vs. Richard Gasquet $2.86

Here we have a battle of the fossils as two declining players square off.

I suppose that’s a little harsh on RBA as he probably has more to offer than Gasquet who appears to be literally falling apart on tour.

The Frenchman hasn’t won on the main draw since August 21 last year – that’s astonishing, and not something I knew before looking at the sheet.

The bad news for him is it doesn’t get any easier. After losing to a young Spaniard at Montpellier, he’ll play another tenacious one in a different French city.

I’m a little hesitant with Agut because I do think his arduous style is catching up to him, and I don’t think he’ll be winning any more main draw tournaments, but these quicker indoor hard courts are nice for him.

He hasn’t played here since 2015 but has had success at similar venues and I think he’s plenty more in the legs.