Tennis

ATP Tennis Betting: Right conditions for De Minaur to strike in Antwerp

October 18, 2020

Debrief

 

In Sardinia last week we were unlucky in the sense that our play in taking on Fabio Fognini was correct (albeit in this case due to Fognini withdrawing due to coronavirus) but our man Federico Coria blew a very winnable one against Roberto Carballes Baena from holding break leads in both sets.

Ugo Humbert was very close against Andrey Rublev in St. Petersburg until the last 10 minutes of a long three setter when Rublev produced an inspired level at the right time from his point of view.

Unibet’s price of 50-1 about Humbert was a good one and had Humbert edged that match we’d have been in a good position in the quarters against Cam Norrie, but it wasn’t to be.

Alexander Bublik was in one of his messing about moods against Milos Raonic in another winnable match that Bublik really threw away with sloppiness in St. Petersburg, where Borna Coric was a most unlikely finalist, given that he had an utterly atrocious record against big servers.

Yet Coric went and beat Lopez, Opelka and Raonic to make the title match in Russia, while Filip Krajinovic managed to lose from 1.03 in-play against Steve Johnson in Cologne and then withdrew from Cologne 2. It was one of those weeks.

 

Conditions and trends

 

Talking of Cologne, we’re back at the Lanxess Arena this week for the second of the back-to-back weeks in the German city, with the bett1HULKS Championships taking place in week 44.

Fans were initially allowed into the first Cologne tournament last week, but they stopped that after virus cases rose in the city and it’s now been confirmed that it’ll be behind closed doors this week.

The slow Head Tour XT balls combined with a grey/black Rebound Ace surface made it pretty slow last week in Cologne and while it’ll probably play faster in week two as the surface wears away a little it’ll still be on the slow side I expect.

The stats from the first week in Cologne tell a tale, with only seven of 27 (26%) of the matches featuring a tie break and there were only 73% holds of serve, which puts it on a par with the slowest of clay court events.

Sardinia last week saw 72% holds of serve and 38% of its matches featured at least one tie break, so that’s a good comparison with which to show how slow it was at Cologne 1.

Antwerp is usually played on a Green Set surface with HEAD balls and it’s another of those slowish indoor events that have become the norm these days on the ATP Tour.

It’s yet to provide a decent priced outright winner in its four years on the tour, with Andy Murray’s 12-1 success last year being the best return on an Antwerp champion, although the 150-1 (75-1 a place) place money on Diego Schwartzman in 2016 is by far and away the best outright return at this event so far.

A qualifier has made at least the quarter final here in all four of its stagings, but none have gone on to make the title match as yet.

 

ATP Cologne 2 – draw

If this week’s Cologne draw looks rather a lot like last week’s, that’s because it is, with no fewer than 15 (at the time of writing) players appearing in back-to-back weeks here in Germany.

And numerous other players were in St. Petersburg last week, including Denis Shapovalov, who struggled in his semi final in Russia with a bad shoulder that needed treatment in a last four defeat to Andrey Rublev.

The injury seemed to affect his service, with Shapo at one key stage of that match double faulting four times in one game (from 40-0 up) to go from 1.26 favourite in-play to the slippery slope that eventually led to defeat.

Assuming that Shapo won’t last the distance this week seems a reasonable place to start working out this Cologne draw and the obvious one that may take advantage in Shapo’s quarter two is Jannik Sinner.

The young Italian was slated to play here last week, but withdrew due to a stomach illness, and his draw this week looks decent if we’re assuming that Shapo won’t be able to go all the way this week.

He takes on Hubert Hurkacz first up and the Pole looked absolutely shattered (physically and mentally) by the end of his quarter final defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday night, so the much fresher Sinner has obvious chances to win that one.

Then Sinner would then face either Tennys Sandgren or a qualifier and then possibly Shapovalov or either Jordan Thompson or Gilles Simon (Gillou was another one that looked exhausted last week after taking on RBA).

If he wins the quarter than he may well face a rematch with Alexander Zverev, who Sinner beat at the French Open (Zverev said he was sick for that match), and Zverev will probably be tired too after a long run here in the first week of Cologne’s back-to-back weeks.

Sinner’s price of 7.50 is too short for me though with that draw and I’m not sure I fancy any of the players in Zverev’s first quarter of the draw, with none of them looking likely to win the title this week, with the possible exception of Miomir Kecmanovic, but he probably wants it quicker than this.

The bottom half of the Cologne 2 draw is interesting, with Roberto Bautista Agut’s withdrawal on Sunday afternoon changing what was already a quite open half.

In Q3, Jan-Lennard Struff is a possibility, but as I said last week, he tends to bottle it playing at home in Germany and we profited from that exact thing happening last week when he lost as favourite first up to Oscar Otte.

He should beat Marco Cecchinato, who’s currently enjoying the slow clay in Sardinia, where he made the final, but Struff always seems to find a way to lose in Germany and he’s overlooked by me this week for that reason.

Yoshihito Nishioka is a long shot possibility in a half of the draw where there isn’t really a player that could overpower him with huge hitting in these indoor conditions.

He’s shown glimpses of what he can do indoors and if it does play quicker this week he could have a chance, as he has beaten RBA on a slow hard court before – at Indian Wells last season – so he has the level on his day and he made the Delray Beach final on slow hard, too, in February this year.

Nishioka takes on what is a rusty Kyle Edmund in round one, with Edmund lacking matches after a knee injury and it’s hard to see him improving so much in a week from last week’s level against Lloyd Harris to win this title.

I’d want a bigger price about Edmund and I can’t see Daniel Altmaier doing a whole lot either, given that he lost to Henri Laaksonen here last week in what was his first ever main level match on indoor hard.

So, with Felix Auger-Aliassime switched from Q4 to Q3 after RBA’s withdrawal it’s the young Canadian that’s favourite for this quarter, but he may well be fatigued (and a tad dejected) after losing his sixth main level final out of six in his career on Sunday in Cologne 1 (yet to win a set in any of his six finals).

I’m tempted by 80-1 qualifier Egor Gerasimov here, but I doubt it’s quick enough for him in Antwerp.  

Quarter four looks quite open, too, with Diego Schwartzman the likely winner of it, but how much energy and enthusiasm does he have after a big effort on the clay?

Andy Murray didn’t look up to winning on his recent displays and he’s now withdrawn, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is another likely physical struggler after making the last four of Cologne 1 and having the trainer out on Saturday afternoon.

Special Exemption, Danilo Petrovic, has some power, but he’s coming straight from clay in Sardinia and has no pedigree at this sort of level.

Marin Cilic and Steve Johnson don’t look up to winning the title on their recent form and maybe, just maybe, a slow court grinder like Damir Dzumhur could go well if he’s fit.

Dzumhur won titles on slow hard indoors a few years ago in Russia, but has struggled with fitness in recent times, however he made the final on clay in Barcelona at Challenger level just over a week ago and has now qualified comfortably for this.

Again, at 80-1 he’s a tempting option, but not quite tempting enough in a half that Schwartzman (who’s made the final in this week’s other event in Antwerp before) should relish, with only perhaps a peak form Cilic (and we haven’t seen that for a long time) having the potential to overpower him in Q4.

Schwartzman at 14-1 would definitely be the bet if he hadn’t expended a lot of energy in the recent clay swing and as it is he’s a bit of a tentative pick in Cologne 2.

If Unibet’s opening show of 20-1 about Auger-Aliassime is still around then that might be worth risking, but I can’t see FAA being that price for long and I wouldn’t back him at, say, 10-1.

 

ATP Antwerp – draw

This is an interesting draw at the European Open, with top seed David Goffin coming here having just been given the all-clear after a bout of coronavirus.

Goffin has struggled here regularly over the years, being either number one or two seed in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and he’s yet to make the final, losing heavily to Humbert here a year ago in his opening match.

He comes here in poor form as well, having lost both of his matches on the clay swing in straight sets, plus he’s got Grigor Dimitrov in his half of the draw (11-2 head-to-head in favour of Dimitrov), so Goffin looks a top seed worth taking on.

Dimitrov plays pretty well indoors, with a hold/break total of 103.2 in his last 11 matches at main level, going back to the start of 2018, while Goffin has similar numbers (102.5) in the same period of time.

The Bulgarian played pretty well on the clay swing for not much reward and should enjoy the conditions better this week than the painfully slow clay of the French Open, where he still recorded a career-best finish of the last-16.

Milos Raonic and Alex De Minaur appear to be the other main contenders in Goffin’s half of the draw and I prefer the Aussie to bounce back to a bit of form this week at the prices.

De Minaur was never likely to do much on clay and so it proved, but he’s very effective on a hard court under a roof as he showed a year ago when he won Zhuhai and then made the Basel final.

It was technically outdoor hard in Zhuhai, but it was played under a closed roof in very slow conditions, while Basel was on a Green Set surface the same as the one he’ll encounter this week in Antwerp.

ADM is coming off a quarter final finish at the US Open and we can ignore the clay losses, so if he can get the better of Richard Gasquet first up (he beat Gasquet in New York, with Gasquet saying De Minaur is a “complicated opponent [for him]”.

The Aussie should have too much stamina for the 2020 version of Gasquet and he’s also beaten Raonic in their only career clash and won five of his last seven against the big servers in my database, so he has every chance if he gets to face Raonic.

That’s not certain though, given Raonic’s latest week of flattering to deceive in St. Petersburg, where he lost in the semis to another baseline grinder in Borna Coric, having won set one convincingly.

Raonic is too short for me given his lack of titles for the last five years indoors and it doesn’t seem like Kei Nishikori is anywhere near the player he was, so he’s overlooked, too.

The bottom half of the draw looks a pretty good one for Karen Khachanov, whose Q3 sees him face clay courters in Dusan Lajovic and Albert Ramos, plus Frances Tiafoe who’s played the last four tournaments on clay, and Dan Evans, who may the best alternative to Khachanov.

Khachanov is still struggling for form and he lost to Evans indoors in Rotterdam back in February, so there may be a chance for the Brit in Q3.

Evans should have beaten Stan Wawrinka last week in St. Petersburg and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won this quarter ahead of Khachanov, but maybe it’s pushing it for Evo to win the whole thing.

Evans often finds it too tough against big servers and with Reilly Opelka in the adjacent quarter the chances are that Evans would come up short against Opelka if the American made it to the semis.

And there’s every chance that he will, having made the semi final (lost to De Minaur in a final set tie break) on a Green Set in Basel 12 months ago and Q4 looks to be between Opelka, Pablo Carreno Busta and my man from last week Ugo Humbert.

Taylor Fritz doesn’t seem up to it indoors and I wonder how motivated Pablo Carreno Busta is having made it to the semis in New York and the quarters in Paris?

PCB did make the Stockholm and Rotterdam semis in similar conditions to this, but Humbert would be a tough opener for him and that narrow defeat that Humbert suffered against Rublev in St Petersburg is pretty good form, really.

Antwerp is one of those annoying events whose qualifying doesn’t finish until some time on Monday, so we won’t know who’s in the draw until then from the qualies, but Lloyd Harris looks the best of them.

Harris had injury issues in Cologne 1 though and it’s a stretch to ask him to now qualify here and go on to make a final here in Antwerp.

 

Conclusion

 

In Cologne there’s a lot of doubt about fitness and motivation in the second of back-to-back weeks at the same venue, but Sinner should be up for it and would have been a bet at a bigger price, but 7.50 is definitely not big enough.

If you can get the 20s on Auger-Aliassime it could pay dividends if he still has the energy after Cologne 1, but I can’t really recommend that, as the price surely won’t last long, so the value may well be on Schwartzman at 14-1.

Over in Antwerp, Alex de Minaur is my man in the top half, with Opelka and Humbert on the short list in the bottom half, but their prices don’t really offer much value at 12.0 and 15.0 respectively, so just the two bets for me this week.

 

Best Bets

 

1 point win De Minaur to win Antwerp at 12.0
1 point win Schwartzman to win Cologne 2 at 15.0