ATP Tennis Betting: Motivated Coppejans can frighten nervy Humbert in Antwerp opener

October 19, 2020

There’s more indoor action in week 44 of the tour, as the players either make their way to Antwerp or stay in Cologne for the second of the back-to-back weeks in the German city.

Cologne’s first week on the tour was a boon for underdog backers, with 11 of the first 13 dogs winning at the bett1HULKS Indoors.

A slow court surface and balls made life tough for many in Cologne and perhaps it’ll play a bit quicker this week after only 73% holds and a paltry 26% tie breaks in week one.

Antwerp is into its fifth year on the ATP Tour and in three of its four years so far it’s produced between 37% and 44% underdog winners, but there were only four of 26 in 2018, which brings its average down to 35% over the four years.

It’s usually regarded as medium/slow on a Green Set surface, but it averages a shade under 80% in terms of service holds and 42% of its matches in those four years on the tour have featured at least one tie break, so it’s probably a medium paced surface.

The best round of the tournament as far as underdog winners are concerned has been round two, which averages 40% at the moment, while round one averages 35%.

Looking back at last week’s preview of the round one underdogs, in which we managed to get two nice winners, a loss and a void from our four bets, there were a lot on my shortlist, but this week it looks much harder.

Incredibly, 11 of the first 13 matches in Cologne 1 last week were won by the betting underdog and several of those (Otte, Verdasco, Albot) were on my list, but I’m struggling to find anything like as many viable options in Cologne 2.

Jordan Thompson may get lucky and find that Gilles Simon isn’t fit for duty this week, with the veteran Frenchman often struggling for fitness these days, but Thompson has only broken serve 11.2% of the time in his eight career matches on indoor hard at main level.

Thompson might win it on fitness, but if Simon is in decent condition it’s hard to see the Aussie winning that one.

Kyle Edmund looked a bit rusty last week in Cologne and I suspect that Yoshihito Nishioka will make the Brit, who’s been struggling with a knee injury lately, work very hard in this one.

Marin Cilic has only dropped one set in the 13 he’s contested against Steve Johnson and although Cilic was ranked between fourth and 13th in the world for all of those career clashes the Croat shouldn’t have many issues with this match-up.

Cilic looks some way away from his best form these days, but so does Johnson, and while an upset is always possible with Cilic these days I’m not sure I’d want to spend my money on backing Johnson to do so.

Adrian Mannarino was involved in one of the more bizarre scorelines of the season in his first career clash with Alexei Popyrin, which came indoors in Montpellier in February when he won 6-0, 6-7, 6-0.

Mannarino faces lucky loser Popyrin again on Monday and I’m not seeing any value in Mannarino at around 1.65 to beat the Aussie, with the Frenchman in no sort of form at present.

He was beaten in straights by Ilya Ivashka last week in St. Petersburg and he hasn’t won a set in any of his four matches since the US Open and while three of those were on clay it can’t have done much for his often-brittle confidence.

Tennys Sandgren has been playing pretty well lately and been unlucky in a few draws, losing to Djokovic, Bautista Agut and Rublev, while beating Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz (on clay).

So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he took down Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who won the doubles title in Cologne 1 (at the same time as having to qualify for Cologne 2) at the weekend.

It’s surely too slow for Herbert at this venue as far as singles is concerned, but I am put off Sandgren a little by the three defeats he’s had against another net-rushing type in Mischa Zverev. 

Moving on to the European Open now and I’m not too sure what Frances Tiafoe has done on indoor hard to be as short as 1.41 to beat Dusan Lajovic in their Antwerp clash on Centre Court at around 16:00 UK time on Monday.

Tiafoe has an unimpressive 11-17 win/loss mark indoors at main level and his service hold/break total is only five percent better than that of Lajovic, who beat Tiafoe easily in their only previous career clash, which came on a slow outdoor hard court at Indian Wells.

Tiafoe was a 1.59 favourite that day in 2017 on home soil and he coughed up 40 unforced errors in just 18 games to lose three and three.

The American enjoyed success at Challenger level two weeks ago in Parma, but lost first up to Corentin Moutet a few days later in Sardinia in a match that he injured himself in when running into a courtside bench.

He’s got a lot of tennis in his legs, has Tiafoe, with 15 sets on damp clay in the last 10 days or so and I couldn’t have him at this price switching surfaces against a fresher player (who’s also coming straight from clay) that’s played just two sets in the same timeframe.

Lajovic had his chances against eventual champ Laslo Djere in Sardinia and while he’s more effective on clay he’s no mug on hard courts so I don’t mind taking a chance at this price.

The other one for me that may be opposable in some way in Antwerp on Monday is Ugo Humbert, who looked really nervous and under pressure when in the position of heavy favourite against world number 286 Pavel Kotov in St Petersburg last week.

Kotov was a point away from being a set and a break up in that one, with Humbert saving three break points in game five of set two and going on to get the break himself in the very next game.

It certainly looked grim for a while for Humbert and although the Frenchman has every chance of going deep this week I wouldn’t be surprised if he was challenged early on again by another crowd favourite in Kimmer Coppejans.

Coppejans has played some very good matches at home in Belgium in the Davis Cup and he wasn’t that far away against eventual champion Andy Murray here in Antwerp last season, losing 6-4, 7-6 to the Scot that day.

Thisnis a big match and opportunity for Coppejans and I like him to win set one, or the +1.5 sets or the +5.5 games at 1.76 in this clash.

The other one that could have some legs is to side with Aljaz Bedene to take Milos Raonic to a tie break in their round one match.

Bedene has played at least one tie break in 10 of his last 12 completed matches against the big servers in my database (including two of his three against Raonic) and he’s played a set one tie break in seven of those dozen matches.

He’s also held serve 88.2% of the time in his last 10 matches on indoor hard at main level, hitting almost one ace per game and winning the same amount of points on his first serve as Raonic has in his last 10 (81.5%).

Bedene has played a whopping 0.40 tie breaks per set in his last 10 matches versus my big servers and assuming he’s fit after retiring at the French Open and then withdrawing from Cologne 1 last week Bedene could reward set one tie break backers at around the 3.30 mark.

There are still a fair few round one match-ups to be decided in Antwerp, as their qualifying is still ongoing, so it’ll just be three individual match bets for me this week.


Best Bets


0.5 points win Coppejans +1.5 sets to beat Humbert at 2.80
0.5 points win Lajovic to beat Tiafoe at 2.80
0.5 points win over 12.5 games in set one of Raonic/Bedene at 4.10