ATP Tennis Betting: Lopez and Herbert likely to serve up tie breaks at altitude in Kitzbuhel

September 8, 2020

As the US Open reaches the business end in New York, there’s main level tennis over in Austria on the clay of Kitzbuhel to analyse as well.

Oddly running concurrently with the US Open’s second week is the ATP 250 Generali Open, the start of the short clay swing that’s been rescheduled from the early summer that will conclude with the French Open at the end of September/early October.

I’m not sure it’s a fabulous idea having a clay swing outdoors in the European autumn, but money talks and let’s see if we can make any out of this opening week on the red dirt.

Kitzbuhel is usually a week that I really look forward to, as it does tend to produce a lot of underdog winners and a few decent priced outright winners and finalists and that should hold this week, too.

Looking back over the last seven years of Kitzbuhel reveals a whopping average of 42% underdog winners and in the last four years only that number rises to 50%, so with most of this field lacking in clay match time there should be a few shocks again this time around.

I talked about the playing conditions in my outright preview and that I’d probably add one or two from a good quality qualifying draw once that was completed and I think that will be the case when I’ve got some prices.

We lost 33-1 shot Joao Sousa on day one after a feeble effort in serving out set two of his clash with Hubert Hurkacz saw Sousa turn *5-3 into 5-7 GSM in about five minutes, which was disappointing.

Now that the draw has been finalised some interesting match-ups have been revealed and after three of four favourites won in the main draw on Tuesday I’m expecting a few odds-against shots to prevail in the coming days.

Marc-Andrea Huesler has to be one of those in with a realistic chance of upsetting the odds when he takes on Emil Ruusuvuori on Court Kuchenmeister at 10:30 local time.

Huesler has qualified very nicely indeed here, beating Prajnesh Gunneswaran (who isn’t at home on clay it’s fair to say) and Attila Balazs (who certainly is capable on the red dirt) for the loss of just one service game.

That experience of these conditions must be hugely in his favour if we also consider that Ruusuvuori hasn’t played on clay for more than a year and is coming off a retirement due to a groin or hip injury incurred in his last match in New York.

Huesler also has slightly better clay data at Challenger level than Ruusuvuori, with a service hold/break total of 102.4 compared to the 100 of the Finn in their 19 and 17 main draw Challenger matches on clay respectively.

Ruusuvuori has never played a main level match on clay yet and is favourite due to his very good recent form on hard courts, but at these odds in these circumstances I don’t mind taking him on here.

Other underdogs that have possibilities include: Dennis Novak, Federico Delbonis, Albert Ramos, Feli Lopez, Philipp Kohlschreiber and maybe Sebastian Ofner.

Novak has beaten Max Marterer on clay before and should be highly motivated playing at home, plus the sunny weather and altitude may well the playing conditions more appealing to the Austrian.

Ramos regularly plays well at altitude on the clay, as evidenced by his run to the final here last year, his title in Gstaad last season, and his two semi finals and one final in Quito. His opponent, Laslo Djere, is a former Gstaad semi finalist and has the advantage of having played two matches in qualies, plus he beat Ramos in straight sets at the French Open last year, so it’s a tough one for Ramos, but possible.

I could have hoped for a much better draw for Juan Ignacio Londero than Delbonis, but it is what it is, and Londero will be hoping for a similar display to when he blew Delbonis off the court in Cordoba in early 2019. It might be too quick here for Delbonis in the sun (lost his last three main draw matches here) and I’m obviously hoping for a performance from Londero here.

There are usually a lot of tie breaks in Kitzbuhel (49% in the last three years in the main draw) and one match that looks highly likely to have a breaker or two in it is the clash between Lopez and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Four of their six sets played against each other (all on indoor hard) have ended in tie breaks and with tie breaks usually plentiful in Kitzbuhel and a sunny day expected that outcome looks likely again.

Herbert has broken Lopez a measly 2.8% of the time in three matches, while Lopez has managed it just 8.5% of the time, so you’d think that serves will again be dominant in these conditions at altitude.

Herbert chose not to go to New York, as he’s about to become a father and was taking no chances, and he’s had more clay time than Lopez, by playing in Prague and qualifying here.

Lopez can be mighty effective in these conditions though and clearly Herbert has little clue as how to break the Lopez serve, but what has Feli got left at almost 39 years of age?

Ofner is an interesting one, with the Austrian capable of big things on his day, making the semis in Kitzbuhel a few years ago, beating Pablo Cuevas, and after edging past Radu Albot on his first appearance here this year.

Opponent Diego Schwartzman has produced some weak efforts on European clay in recent times when playing in 250s and 500s, with no semi final in any of his last eight such tournaments and if he doesn’t go about this the right way it might get tricky.

Ofner needs to serve at his very best of course and hope that Diego is having another one of those off days on European clay, but I’m tempted by Ofner to win the first set here.

Jannik Sinner left New York having cost me a nice odds-against success and carrying an injury after his body gave up after two and a bit sets against Karen Khachanov and you’ve got to wonder how fit he is for his clash with the darling of Kitzbuhel, Kohlschreiber.

Sinner beat Kohlschreiber pretty convincingly as slight underdog on indoor hard (also in Austria) in their only career clash thus far, but now as slight favourite and with a question mark over his fitness it’s not a bet for me.

So, I’ll chance Huesler and the tie break in set one of Lopez/Herbert in Kitzbuhel.


Best Bets


Back over 12.5 games in set one of Lopez/Herbert at 4.0
Back Huesler to beat Ruusuvuori at 2.48