Occasionally, you get weeks where nothing goes right whatever you do and week 43 on the 2019 ATP Tour has been one of those for sure.
After numerous earlier instances of choosing the wrong wager this week we had 7-6 in set one to Reilly Opelka against Alex De Minaur in Basel and of course Opelka played a stinker of a tie break, lost it, and then went on to win a tie break in the second set.
Indeed, the third set also went to a breaker, so we were on the right lines again, but got no reward for it at all. Again.
Stefanos Tsitsipas also provided a one game loss for a handicap wager in a week that’s been the worst one since Newport, Umag and Bastad after Wimbledon in July.
The fact that this week has featured so few underdog winners has had an influence on that, with just six underdog winners from 29 matches in Basel (21%) and seven from 29 in Vienna (24%) making it a bad week for underdog backers.
It probably won’t be much of a week for outright value seekers either, with 2.5 outright favourite Roger Federer now a 1.10 chance to take home another Basel title and 7.0 favourite in Vienna, Dominic Thiem, now a 1.29 chance to win his first title in the Austrian capital.
So, a poor week for betting underdogs and two short-priced number one seeds likely to win outright titles represents a week to forget for my style of betting.
I won’t be having a bet today, instead cutting my losses and moving on to Bercy for the Paris Masters, where there’s usually some fun and games in the last week of the regular ATP Tour season.
But for those looking to have an interest in Sunday’s finals let’s have a look at the numbers in Basel and Vienna.
Those following on Twitter will probably know that as I managed to get 21-1 about Alex De Minaur in Basel that I’m on him outright this week, so there’s a big clue that ADM has no chance of winning a deciding match if this season’s record is any guide.
There was always a likelihood that he’d be facing Roger Federer in the final, which I why I shunned the 12-1 about ADM at the start of the tournament, but I’d hoped that perhaps Stefanos Tsitsipas could take down the Swiss in the semis.
That didn’t happen and so I’m hoping for something of a miracle now, with De Minaur 0-6 win/loss versus top-five ranked opposition (at the time of the match).
He hasn’t been close to winning a set in any of the five played at tour or major level, with a 0-12 set score in those matches and no more than four games won in any of those sets.
The Aussie did take Alexander Zverev to five sets in Davis Cup getting on for two years ago, but looking at his stats in all main level, main draw matches versus the players in my database as ‘top-10 quality’ De Minaur is 1-11 win/loss.
In those matches he’s held serve only 64.2% of the time and broken 14.3% of the time, so he’s got a lot to do today against Federer and if I were having a bet in this I'd be looking at either 6-3 or 6-4 to Federer in set one.
De Minaur has won his last two against top-10 ranked opponents (as Roberto Bautista Agut was ranked 10 when they met in Zhuhai) so perhaps his recent improvement gives him more of a shot than the stats suggest, but I can’t see ADM having the weapons to beat Federer on a fair paced indoor hard court in Basel.
There might be a chance that nerves will strike Dominic Thiem though in the Vienna final, as he seeks to do something that Austrian legend, the erstwhile ‘King of Clay’ Thomas Muster was unable to do.
Muster lost in three Vienna finals in his career and Thiem will be aware of that and seek to emulate Jurgen Melzer, who won both of his Vienna finals.
I can’t see it being easy though, with Diego Schwartzman hitting the ball well this week and been a match for Thiem in both of their prior clashes on outdoor hard courts.
Schwartzman saved four match points to beat Thiem 7-5 in the decider as a 3.56 underdog on medium paced hard courts in Montreal in the summer of 2017 and lost to Thiem 7-6, 7-5 (Thiem won just 26% of his points on second serve) on slow hard in Miami way back in 2015.
More recently on the clay in Schwartzman’s backyard in Buenos Aires earlier this season the crowd favourite edged it 7-6 in the third in what was Thiem’s first tournament for a month after injury.
The Argentine was impressive against a poor Gael Monfils on Saturday, with the Frenchman looking out of it physically and mentally and hitting 31 unforced errors in two sets.
I feel this will be a tough one for Thiem to hit many winners past the dogged defence of Schwartzman, but the serve of Thiem will be a decent advantage for the Austrian.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a tie break in this, but there have been far fewer breakers in Vienna this week than normal, with only nine of 28 matches (32%) having one, compared to the seven-year average of 48%.
The 2-1 win to Thiem also holds some appeal at a price of around 3.85 in what should be an entertaining affair, but I’m all done for the week.