Matteo Berrettini gave us a great run for our money as a 90-1 each-way shot in Shanghai last week, but as has been the case so often this season our man feel at the final hurdle, losing out to a fine serving performance from Alexander Zverev in the semis.
I said last week that the Shanghai title had always gone to one of the top six seeds and so it did again in 2019, with Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev taking the trophy.
Conditions and trends
We head indoors now for the remainder of 2019 and the Kremlin Cup has changed venues again, with the Krylatskoye Ice Palace arena the new home of this tournament.
There’s no information on what surface it’ll be played on this year, so we’re guessing a bit, but it used to be one of the slowest indoor events around and became a bit quicker in 2018.
One of the top-six seeds has won here each year since 2010 and qualifiers usually go well, with at least one player from the qualies draw making the quarter finals in nine of the last 10 years.
At the Stockholm Open they attempted to match the conditions (as far as possible) to those in Shanghai, so it’s usually one of the quicker indoor hard court tournaments of the year.
Stockholm is usually a good event for number one seeds, with top seeds either winning it or making the final in seven of the last nine years, but qualifiers don’t fare as well, with our man last year, Ernests Gulbis, the first qualifier to make the final for 17 years.
The European Open in Antwerp is played on a slowish Greenset indoor hard court, with Head ATP balls, but it’s produced a lot of tie breaks in its three years on the tour (45% of the matches have featured at least one) nonetheless.
The three title winners here so far have all been priced between 11-2 and 6-1 and only Diego Schwartzman with his 150-1 run in 2016 has made the final at a double (let alone triple) figure price.
Qualifiers have made either the semi final or quarter final in all three years of the European Open so far and Kyle Edmund last year is the only top seed to have made the final in Antwerp yet.
VTB Kremlin Cup
The layers fancy an all-Russian final in Moscow this year, with Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov at the head of the market for the 2019 Kremlin Cup.
And while that’s the likely outcome, it’s far from a cert, especially given the lack of consistency in Khachanov’s game this season and the heavy workload that Medvedev’s body has been through lately.
Medvedev is yet to win his hometown title, so he’ll probably be pretty keen to do it, but at the prices of some of the players in this draw I’m happy to take a chance on a couple of upsets this week.
The first price that looks wrong is the 80-1 about Alexander Bublik, who made the Chengdu final only a few weeks ago and whose record here in Moscow is pretty good as well (4-3 win/loss main draw and a 103.7 hold/break total).
Yes, he retired in somewhat strange circumstances last week, but it would be no great shock if both Bublik and Mikhail Kukushkin were perhaps saving energy for this more winnable tournament when in the middle of what looked like defeats anyway.
We don’t know what the conditions will be like in Moscow and they probably won’t be as quick as Chengdu and Shanghai when Bublik was crushing the aces, but 80-1 seems big, despite the tough round one against Andrey Rublev.
Bublik beat Rublev here as a 3.32 chance back in 2016 and Rublev has an awful 0-6 record in all matches at the Kremlin Cup, so I’m happy with the price on Bublik here.
The third seed Marin Cilic looks miles away from anything like his best form and 7.50 seems very short on him, with any of Jeremy Chardy, Nicolas Jarry, Aljaz Bedene Miomir Kecmanovic and Ivo Karlovic possible winners of that section.
The in-form Egor Gerasimov is also in the qualies and with a 50/50 chance of being in this top half of the draw as well, so he’s one to look at if he gets through.
Adrian Mannarino made the final here, rather unexpectedly, last year and that by his own admission and in Khachanov’s half some of the outsiders do hold varying degrees of appeal.
The first one is 50-1 shot Cristian Garin, who was overpowered by Berrettini in fast conditions in Shanghai, but if it’s as slow as it usually is in Moscow I couldn’t rule him out at that price.
Garin’s beaten the likes of Verdasco, Edmund, and Isner on hard courts lately and Khachanov aside I’m not seeing anyone with the sort of power that should worry Garin in this half of the draw.
Khachanov will have a tricky one first up against either Philipp Kohlschreiber (Kohli has beaten Khachanov three times in the last 20 months) or Pierre-Hugues Herbert and he could well be beaten by either or those two.
Kohlschreiber has been playing Challengers on the clay lately after a poor run and said: “I had a lot of physical problems this year, especially with my back. I have rarely played at 100 percent. Now I am happy to be finally back at a competitive level.”
Ricardas Berankis is a former finalist here, as recently as 2017, and is a lively contender again at 50-1, as is 2013 finalist Mikhail Kukushkin, but I wonder if it’ll be too slow for Kuku, who goes better in fast, low bouncing conditions.
Juan Ignacio Londero has been playing well on hard courts lately, while the man that beat him in Chengdu, Dusan Lajovic, will appreciate the lack of big servers in his quarter of the draw.
Again, it’s worth looking at who comes through qualies and takes the two spots in this half of the draw, but I’ll risk Garin at 50-1 in the hope that Khachanov falls early.
Intrum Stockholm Open
Moving onto Stockholm now and the price I like here is the 33-1 about Filip Krajinovic, who has a decent record on indoor hard and who’s in a winnable quarter of the draw.
Krajinovic is in the third quarter alongside Dan Evans, Bernard Tomic, Casper Ruud, Radu Albot, Yoshihito Nishioka and Taylor Fritz.
The Serb beat Fritz easily on a lively hard court in Winston-Salem last season and the American was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Hyeon Chung here in Stockholm in round one last season.
I wonder what Fritz has left in the tank for this closing stage of the season after a tough year and I don’t mind taking the view that it’s not much with Krajinovic at this price.
In any case, Fritz is only 9-9 on indoor hard at main level in his career and with a hold/break mark of 95.8 (Krajinovic 101.3).
There are plenty of doubts about the others in this section of the draw, with Evans 3-3 win/loss lifetime at main level on indoor hard, as is Nishioka, and Ruud is just 2-1, so there’s not much experience amongst that lot.
Albot is a possibility and he did beat Krajinovic in fast conditions in Tokyo, but I prefer the Serb’s chances of going deeper at the same odds as the Moldovan.
Looking ahead to a possible semi final clash for Krajinovic and he could meet one of Sam Querrey, Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, John Millman, Pablo Andujar or one of two as yet unknown qualifiers.
The likes of Hyeon Chung, Alexei Popyrin and last year’s finalist Ernests Gulbis are all in qualies, so the field is decent, and I couldn’t trust either of Querrey or Dimitrov to show their best form this week.
Querrey has never won a match in Stockholm (0-2) and has made one final on indoor hard since 2010, while Dimitrov does have a fine record here, but is yet to prove that that US Open run was anything other than rather fortunate.
PCB is 13-18 win/loss and with a hold/break total of 92.7 indoors at main level, while Millman is 6-9 in these conditions and Andujar is 8-18.
In the top half, Fernando Verdasco has a decent record here and a good draw, but hasn’t made a final indoors since 2011, while Denis Shapovalov continues to struggle in the latter stages of tournaments (0-7 and 0-14 in sets) and he’s 11-14 win/loss on indoor hard at main level.
Maybe this could be the week that Marton Fucsovics find his true form, but he’s pulled out of the last two tournaments due to leg pain, so in lively conditions it might be Reilly Opelka that goes deep here at a fair enough price of 14-1.
Opelka’s already won indoors this season (in New York) and conditions should suit his game, plus he can’t complain about his draw against Stefano Travaglia followed by either Elias Ymer or a qualifier.
Opelka’s held serve 95.1% of the time in his short career (5-1 win/loss) on indoor hard at main level and broken 11% of the time, playing a whopping 0.47 tie breaks per set.
He beat our top seed Fabio Fognini at the US Open and the rest of this top half of the draw looks weak, with the likes of Mikael Ymer, Janko Tipsarevic, Corentin Moutet and one more qualifier the rest of the opposition.
Fognini will probably cost me again this week somehow, but while he’s played pretty well here in Stockholm in his two career appearances (semi final loser both times) I’m not convinced about him as short as 7-1 second favourite with a 27-32 record indoors and a 95.9 hold/break total.
I have no prices yet in Antwerp, so that one will have to wait, but for now Opelka and Krajinovic in Stockholm and big prices on Bublik and Garin in Moscow will be my plays.