Well, I said in Thursday’s preview that there were quite a few underdogs in with chances on day four and they certainly delivered, with four of the seven names on my list of possibles winning.
For once I managed to back two of he right ones, with 3.20 chance Marius Copil and 3.25 shot Jannik Sinner both defeating high seeds to progress to the quarter finals in Antwerp.
It certainly doesn’t look like we have as many possible underdogs to choose from on Friday in Moscow, Antwerp and Stockholm, but I like one in the Kremlin Cup.
It’s been a poor week for the underdogs in Moscow in a tournament that usually sees quite a lot of favourites lose, but so far only three of 20 dogs have got over the line in the 2019 Kremlin Cup.
One that stands a fair chance of improving that stat is Dusan Lajovic, who I was happy to take in against the big serving Lukas Rosol as favourite the other day, but here as underdog against Adrian Mannarino it’s a different story.
Lajovic’s record is dismal against big servers, but he’s beaten Mannarino in both of their previous career meetings – and on indoor and outdoor hard courts, too – and generally against left-handers he’s been impressive lately.
The Serb has won six of his last seven main level matches on all hard courts against lefties, such as Mannarino, and he’s 10-5 win/loss in his career against them.
The Frenchman surprised himself by making the final here in Moscow a year ago and he looks like he’s being priced on that run again this year if the layers make him a 1.50 shot to beat Lajovic.
Mannarino has by and large struggled on indoor hard over the years and he’s yet to break the 100 mark in terms of his service hold/break total (97.8 in his last 50 matches indoors at main level) and Moscow last year was only the fourth time in 45 indoor events that he’d made a semi final.
Since then he’s failed to make a quarter final in any of the following five events on indoor hard, so he’s made four semis in 50 indoor hard court events (one final).
His draw has been pretty kind so far in terms of match-ups against Damir Dzumhur (4-1 head-to-head) and Mikhail Kukushkin (7-0 head-to-head) and we’ll see how he fares at a short-looking price against an opponent he’s struggled with and who looked pretty good in round two.
The other price that I’m a little surprised by is the underdog status of Sam Querrey on a quick indoor hard court against Pablo Carreno Busta.
PCB has been playing pretty well lately, sure, but he still has a 14-18 win/loss record on indoor hard and a service hold/break total of 93.8 in these conditions.
Add to that his 8-19 win/loss mark against big servers and 6-17 win/loss mark in tie breaks in those matches and you’ve got a price that looks on the short side against someone like Querrey, who thundered down 25 aces and didn’t face a break point against Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday.
The Spaniard was certainly challenged by lucky loser Gianluca Mager on Thursday, with very little in it in terms of stats, and Mager’s 0-3 return on break points to PCB’s 1-2 and a steadier tie break st the end was all that separated that pair.
Similarly to the Marius Copil bet on Thursday, the conditions do favour the big hitters against the more measured style of player and PCB will have to be at his best to nullify the advantage that Querrey has on serve here.
I’d have had Querrey as slight favourite here, with his 14% better win/loss ratio indoors and 10% better hold/break total at main level on indoor hard (88% holds and over one ace per game), so I’ll take odds-against.
Elsewhere, my 33-1 each-way Filip Krajinovic has been playing pretty well so far in Stockholm and he’s favourite to progress to the semis over Yoshihito Nishioka, but don’t count Nishi out of this one.
The Japanese player has been underdog in seven of his eight main level matches on indoor hard and he’s won four of them and produced a superb hold/break total of 110.3 in that admittedly small number of matches.
Krajinovic has won five of his seven career matches versus lefties on all hard courts and he does have the weightier shot and more experience indoors, but this could be a tough test for our man.