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August 20th, 2016:-
It's semi-finals day in the ATP and WTA Cincinnati events and for a Masters in the ATP, the fact that either Marin Cilic or Grigor Dimitrov will be finalists, was something few people would have predicted at the start of the week. Cilic's place in the tournament again signifies the underachievement of Tomas Berdych, who was beaten by the Croat several days ago and with an open draw plus top seed Andy Murray surely physically shattered after two weeks of intense competition, it would have represented a chance for Berdych to claim a rare high profile title.
The two men's matches are likely to be relatively serve orientated, with all four players remaining having above average projected hold percentages for their matches. Andy Murray and Marin Cilic, as favourites, have projected holds towards the 90% mark against opponents in Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov whose return stats are below average.
Trading angles for these matches are a little limited, although I do quite like backing Murray when losing on serve in 0-30/15-40 type spots when his Rolling Projected Hold percentages (available in the daily spreadsheets) is high. He's - to use a Raonic phrase - managed to find a solution to beat the Canadian in recent times, winning their last six head to head matches. Murray, despite being tired, is unlikely to want to break that hoodoo and give confidence to an opponent that he faces on a fairly regular basis in the latter stages of events.
Price wise, both semi-finals seem relatively accurately priced by the market although I think Cilic is a few ticks short against Dimitrov.
In women's action, you could argue that Angelique Kerber is a little generously priced at around 2.75 against Simona Halep but she doesn't look fully fit right now, being in a similar position to Murray. That match looks to be likely to be a return orientated match with more breaks than average, according to my model, but the overall all set lead loss data doesn't see much scope for entries, although the specific set data in the lead loss/recovery sheets is more encouraging - this likes laying Kerber a break up in the first set.
Finally, for this preview, although it's scheduled first in the WTA today, Karolina Pliskova takes on Garbine Muguruza, and the Spaniard, after being under-rated by the market all week, is now more realistically priced at around 1.60. Both players have strong serve numbers in the low-mid 70%s, and Pliskova in particular is weak on return. Backing Muguruza in similar spots to Murray looks the best pre-planned entry point here.
August 19th, 2016:-
ATP and WTA Cincinnati events move into the quarter-final stage today and there's some decent matches on the card across both tours, although nothing that hugely stands out as a massive trading prospect. This is often the case for matches in the business ends of high profile tournaments, with both players in matches having smaller leads than many in the early rounds, plus the market having much bigger knowledge of the players involved.
The first two matches in the men's event are likely to be quite serve orientated, so I'd expect breaks of serve to be at a premium. Break-back likelihood is low in both, particularly the latter match between Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem.
In these, statistics indicate that Grigor Dimitrov (who faces Steve Johnson) and Raonic, in particular, should be worth backing in 0-30/15-40 spots when the Rolling Projected Hold percentages in the daily spreadsheets are high enough.
Third match on court in the ATP tonight sees two Croats, Marin Cilic and Borna Coric face-off, after both won as underdogs last night. This is Coric's first Masters level quarter-final and the young prospect - who was highlighted in this old article as being a player of immense potential - perhaps is starting to show signs of progress after a disappointing last 12-18 months.
Cilic will start as justifiable favourite, and is currently around the 1.40-1.45 mark, but unless anything develops in play, there isn't much to plan in terms of trading entry points.
Finally in men's action, Andy Murray takes on Bernard Tomic and takes a 4-0 head to head lead into their clash. In this match, Tomic looks the most vulnerable on serve of all men's players tonight (against a world-class returner) and his lead loss/recovery numbers made him the most likely to lose a break lead also. If Murray is losing (a set and break or break in set 3 would be decent entry points) but his stats show he isn't simply knackered after the Olympics, then opposing Tomic in these spots is a good approach.
In the WTA, the first match on court at 4pm UK time sees Karolina Pliskova play Svetlana Kuznetsova, and my model agreed that Kuznetsova should be very marginal favourite over the big-serving Czech in a match likely to be quite serve orientated.
This dynamic is not expected in match two of the schedule where Carla Suarez Navarro faces Angelique Kerber, with the German (who can go to number one in the world with the title here) favourite at around 1.30. The data definitely likes the very return orientated Suarez Navarro to lose break leads, and I feel that if she's trading low then there is potential for opposition, although Kerber doesn't perform well from a set and break down, so I'd prefer to oppose CSN in the final set.
Garbine Muguruza has been a little under-rated this week, with my model making her value as favourite several times, and she takes on the improving Timea Babos at around 730pm. Muguruza has won all three of their matches and Babos' lead loss stats are very poor in long matches, so I'm looking at angles to oppose the Hungarian in the final set.
Finally, a tough match to price with Agnieszka Radwanska taking on Simona Halep. Hold/break stats make the Pole a favourite, but we have to take into account her atrocious record against top five opponents. I still make Radwanska value at around 3.00, although you could make a case for her backers to back her to win 2-0 as opposed to just the match win, given her poor record in final sets over a long period of time.
August 17th, 2016:-
With the weather delaying some of yesterday's matches in Cincinnati, some of the previews below still hold for today - the Vesely vs Granollers match in the ATP, and the Svitolina, Larsson and Muguruza matches in the WTA action.
As usual this week, play begins at around 4pm UK time and in the ATP, Mikhail Youzhny's reward for surprisingly easing past Taylor Fritz is Kei Nishikori, fresh from reaching the Bronze playoff in the Olympics last weekend. Prices of around 1.20 on Nishikori look about right, and my data has Youzhny with a low projected hold percentage and high combined lead loss/recovery score.
I'd want to look at Nishikori's game state data before committing to any trades here in case he's not fully fit/motivated but if he is playing well, but somehow losing, then it would seem viable to back him in-play.
Later on tonight, the Pablo Cuevas vs Rafa Nadal match looks interesting, with Nadal 1.35 to get past the Uruguayan. Similar to Nishikori, fitness issues need to be taken into account for the Spaniard, but I do feel that the same advice for backing Nishikori when losing can be attributed to Nadal, if game state data indicates Nadal is at least competitive.
In the WTA, I'm expecting the opening match - Annika Beck vs Simona Halep - to have many breaks of serve and the Romanian looks short at 1.13 against a capable opponent, albeit one with a poor serve. I do feel Beck's vulnerability on serve and as a front runner will ultimately make this match very difficult for her to win, but it wouldn't be a huge shock to see Halep trade higher at least.
Alize Cornet against Carla Suarez Navarro is another possible swingathon, and the Spaniard, who I find hard to price, looks short at 1.50. Cornet has given her tough matches in the past and it wouldn't be a shock to see Cornet lose/trade a lot higher if she gets in front in this match.
Finally, I also like Roberta Vinci as an underdog against the lucky loser Tsvetana Pironkova (1.75). Opposing Pironkova at short prices is likely to be worth considering.
August 16th, 2016:-
Round one in Cincinnati draws to a conclusion tonight with there also being a smattering of round two matches. 29 matches are on the card, so there's plenty of options for traders this evening. Bearing this in mind, I'm going to be selective with regards to which matches I preview.
I'm expecting a swingy match in the opening ATP match this evening as Taylor Fritz (1.77) takes on Mikhail Youzhny. The young American was highlighted as value at this price by my model against a declining Youzhny, and it wouldn't be a shock for either player to lose break leads in sets in this match. Laying Youzhny at low prices looks fairly appealing.
That line - laying at low prices - would also be the case for heavy underdogs Nikoloz Basilashvili, Jared Donaldson and Yuichi Sugita (face David Goffin, Stan Wawrinka and Alex Zverev respectively) whilst the older Mischa Zverev looks statistically vulnerable in the same spots against Feliciano Lopez, but it's important to consider game state here with Lopez potentially tired after playing the final in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Sunday.
Finally in the ATP, my model likes Marcel Granollers as a slight underdog against Jiri Vesely but it also highlighted how bad the Spaniard is likely to be at holding onto leads. A match to try and work out in play there.
In women's action, I'm expecting the Annika Beck vs Yulia Putintseva match to be the one with most breaks of serve, and Beck as slight favourite looks about right. I like Kurumi Nara against Victoria Golubic, with Golubic perhaps over-rated on her recent form on other surfaces - laying Golubic when leading by a break in sets definitely appeals.
There are a number of really nice looking matches in the WTA today and it's a shame the Elina Svitolina vs Daria Gavrilova match is so late. My model treated Svitolina well, making the Ukrainian value at 1.84 tonight, and also recommended opposing Gavrilova when leading in the match too - she's a very vulnerable front runner and Svitolina is statistically a solid player to rely on when losing in a match.
Johanna Larsson is another player that looks vulnerable as a front-runner, against the Romanian, Irina Begu (1.60), and I think laying Larsson when leading by a break in sets seems a reasonable approach.
There's also a couple of other matches which catch the eye - I think Alison Riske is over-rated at 1.20 against the qualifier Varvara Flink, who isn't horrific based on her stats. Riske, even in her home country, is nothing special, and had issues against the mediocre Magda Linette in qualifying.
I also like Barbora Strycova at 2.6ish against the flaky Eugenie Bouchard, and it will be interesting to see if Lucie Safarova is fit in the even money match against Andrea Petkovic. Petkovic may well prove to be the fitter player in a final set - her record certainly suggests so.
Finally, Garbine Muguruza can move on from her Olympic disappointment with a win over the over-rated Coco Vandeweghe at 1.45. When Rolling Projected Hold percentages are high enough, it seems viable to back her in 0-30/15-40 type spots.
August 15th, 2016:-
The Cincinnati Masters/Premier starts in earnest today and, from an ATP outright perspective, this could be a rare Masters event where a non-elite player prospers, with there being doubts about the level of the top players this week.
There are eight ATP matches and six in the WTA to get us started this afternoon, at around 4pm UK time (around an hour's time), and in what are likely to be relatively pacy conditions, there aren't many players with low projected hold percentages today.
One of these rarities is Julien Benneteau, and the ageing Frenchman takes on fellow veteran David Ferrer. Both players have been far from their best in the last few months and Ferrer starts at 1.34 favourite. Logically speaking, it was quite reasonable to assume that Ferrer's all action, fitness based game style would deteriorate with age, and this looks to be the case. Purely down to the fact that Benneteau has a low projected hold (due to Ferrer's return numbers) and Ferrer is excellent at recovering break deficits, opposing Benneteau if/when a short price (set and break, for example) seems a reasonable entry point.
This is also the case for Lucas Pouille, heavy underdog to Nick Kyrgios late tonight. I expected the market to price Pouille incorrectly (he's much better on clay than hard courts), but it unfortunately hasn't.
Most of the other matches are likely to be serve orientated, particularly Reilly Opelka vs Jeremy Chardy, Jared Donaldson against Nicolas Almagro and Pablo Cuevas' match with Sam Querrey. Perhaps there will be some low risk, high reward spots in those backing players at 0-30/15-40 down type spots...
In the women's event this evening my model makes there relatively more scope for return orientated matches, with three of the six clashes featuring both players with low projected hold percentages.
Jelena Ostapenko takes on Anna Schmiedlova in the first of these three, and Schmiedlova looks like she's at least partly got over her serve 'yips' for the first six months of the year. Ostapenko is 1.56 favourite and that looks a little generous, but not hugely so. I really like Ostapenko as a prospect but until she can get her hold percentage into the 65%+ bracket she won't be close to breaking the top 10-15.
Fourth on the schedule is Shuai Zhang against Lesia Tsurenko and that's another match where my model predicts fewer holds of serve than average. I don't have a major issue opposing Zhang at very low prices in this, and that's also the case for Saisai Zheng in the late match with Christina McHale - the final all-low projected hold match.
The other three matches are likely to be less serve orientated. Daria Gavrilova has very swingy dynamics according to the lead loss/recovery spreadsheets - she loses many leads and recovers many deficits. This is the opposite to her opponent, the solid but unspectacular Caroline Garcia, who I make slight value at around even money. Opposing Gavrilova at low prices can also be considered for a small stake.
Coco Vandeweghe is the WTA's Steve Johnson, loved by the markets currently, and I'm going to be bold enough to say that it is my opinion that some people are going to regret doing so. Vandeweghe is a fast court specialist and when the tour moves to Asia, it's reasonable to think that she'll slump. I'm not sure she should be sub 1.50 against Sara Errani today, even though Errani is far from the player she once was.
Finally, I mentioned on Twitter earlier that Ana Ivanovic's stats in 2016 are nothing special whatsoever and she is around 1.25 to get the better of Donna Vekic. There is a player in Vekic somewhere - her stats at 16/17 were superb for a player of that age - but she hasn't kicked on at all. Ivanovic, given these stats and recent results looks very short here, although it wouldn't shock me to see her get through having recovered a deficit in the match.
August 12th, 2016:-
Yesterday's preview was accurate in stating that Santiago Giraldo was the most likely player to lose a break lead, and the Colombian obliged in set one, and from a set and break up before succumbing to Pablo Carreno-Busta.
Carreno-Busta's reward in the ATP Los Cabos semi-final is a tough match, second on schedule at around 3am UK time, against Feliciano Lopez (1.54) and it's quite difficult to specify many pre-planned trading angles for the match. Carreno-Busta is solid from a set and break up so opposing him here isn't a line I like, but there is a little bit of scope to oppose Carreno-Busta when a break up in sets one and three, according to the lead loss/recovery spreadsheets.
Prior to this match in Mexico, is the likely serve orientated match between Ivo Karlovic (1.40) and Dusan Lajovic. Karlovic has won all five head to head matches and has a 97.7% projected hold percentage tonight, with a high clutch score. He's likely to be able to recover some difficult situations on his serve, quite predictably.
In the Olympics, the men's event is now at the quarter-final stage, and there isn't a ton of angles with which to pre-plan market entries. Thomaz Bellucci (low projected hold percentage, high combined score) is vulnerable as a front-runner against Rafael Nadal, (1.17), but he would have to be closing the match to make it a low risk/high reward entry point.
My model quite likes the in-form Gael Monfils to trouble Kei Nishikori but my data also makes the flamboyant Frenchman likely to struggle slightly more than average when a break up in sets.
The other two matches are tough to work out many trading entries - Steve Johnson is loved by the market in almost every match currently but is priced correctly against Andy Murray, whilst Juan Martin del Potro (1.70) will hopefully be at full fitness against Roberto Bautista-Agut.
In the women's event, Petra Kvitova takes on Monica Puig and based on 12 month data, Puig has plenty to like at a price close to 3.00. However, Kvitova seems very motivated in this tournament, perhaps something that cannot be always guaranteed with the Czech big-server. I'm expecting this match to be quite serve orientated.
Finally, the other semi-final sees Madison Keys play Angelique Kerber, who is favourite at around 1.60. This isn't really a match that appeals hugely from a trading perspective without seeing some in-play data.
August 11th, 2016:-
After taking ATP Los Cabos victim on Monday, it was the turn of the Olympics yesterday with all matches being re-arranged for today. However, there are a further four matches in Mexico late this evening, where the tournament reaches the quarter-final stage, and today's previews will focus on these matches.
First up, Santiago Giraldo takes on Pablo Carreno-Busta and this is - according to the daily spreadsheets - the most likely match to be return orientated. Indeed, with the lowest projected hold of the day, as well as the highest combined score, Giraldo does look the most likely player to lose a break lead on the schedule. Given this, I feel laying Giraldo (SP 2.70) when trading shorter than SP when a break up in sets, looks the best entry point.
Nicolas Almagro faces Dusan Lajovic next up, and a handicap betting preview for this match for Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokers can be seen here.
Third on court sees Julien Benneteau take a 6-0 hard/indoor hard head to head lead to Feliciano Lopez, but it is Lopez who is favourite at around 1.33. My model made this about right, despite the head to head record, with Benneteau struggling with injury and form over the last 18 months. I certainly don't expect many in-set swings in this match.
This is also the case for the final match on court, with Marcel Granollers playing the big-serving Ivo Karlovic. This match has the highest projected hold percentages of the day, and is the most likely to be serve orientated, despite Granollers being a relatively poor server who also has bad lead loss stats. It wouldn't surprise me if there were very few breaks in this, and also recoveries from 0-30/15-40 type spots look likely.
August 10th, 2016:-
With the weather getting in the way of day one of the ATP Los Cabos event, matches were all rescheduled yesterday, hence why there was no preview for last night.
The Olympics is hotting up nicely and there's a couple of players in the ATP event who I think are a little undervalued - the in-form Gael Monfils at a shade bigger than 1.6 against Marin Cilic looks reasonable, whilst underdogs Evgeny Donskoy, Gilles Simon and Fabio Fognini look to have slightly bigger chances than the odds suggest. Donskoy, who beat David Ferrer yesterday is around 4.00 to beat the over-rated Steve Johnson, whom I'm sure pretty much no one has suggested has been any value at all in the last two months.
The women's event is down to the last eight and winners tonight will all be playing for at least a bronze medal in the next round. The market, who for the duration of Rio has priced Petra Kvitova as if she was back in the top three in the world and has been 'right' (although it had a scare yesterday against Makarova), has priced her sub 1.50 against Serena Williams' conqueror, Elina Svitolina. I make value on Svitolina here, as long as she's not suffering 'after the Lord Mayor's show' side effects...
In Los Cabos, all eight second round matches are played tonight, and my model priced all eight matches as being close to the market prices.
Marcel Granollers' match with Tobias Kamke looks to have some potential for swings, with the Spaniard starting at around 1.45 for this match. Kamke has a low projected hold and high combined score, according to the daily spreadsheets and this makes him ripe for opposing when leading by a break in sets tonight - if you are keen to stay up through the night!
The other matches in Mexico are a bit 'meh', with projected hold percentages around average and combined scores not particularly high, so it's probably a night where it's worth catching up on some sleep as there will be plenty of opportunities in the future...
August 8th, 2016:-
The Olympics has proven to be a bit of a damp squib from an in-play trading perspective with few streams, slow scoreboards and unremarkable liquidity, but we do have ATP action for the night owls tonight from Mexico, where ATP Los Cabos starts at midnight this evening.
Los Cabos is a new event on tour and has a better player field than a few recent ATP events. From what I understand, Los Cabos was almost specifically designed for tourism since the late 20th Century, so I'd expect facilities to be pretty decent. However, it's impossible to make any assumptions on conditions.
The all-Spanish clash between Marcel Granollers and Fernando Verdasco gets proceedings underway and in this, it's difficult to make a case for Verdasco - whose hard court stats are nothing special - at around 1.35. My data made the match quite a bit closer than the market suggests. Having said that, Granollers does have atrocious lead loss data.
Also with an early start is Dusan Lajovic against Thiago Monteiro and I really like the young Brazilian prospect here as an underdog against an opponent with terrible hard court stats and has travelled across three continents in the last 10 days or so. It would appear reasonable to oppose Lajovic in-play at short prices for a small stake in this.
Julien Benneteau appears keen to use these smaller tournaments to try and boost his ailing ranking and the declining Frenchman looks fairly priced as a slight underdog against the improving youngster, who is still hit and miss, Jared Donaldson. In-set swings are tough to call here.
Tigre Hank's stats are very poor indeed and even the very limited Austin Krajicek looks some value even at 1.11 to inflict Hank's customary wild card defeat. If somehow Hank trades low, opposing him with such a low projected hold percentage (56.1%) seems like a reasonable approach.
In a repeat of last week's match in Atlanta, Mischa Zverev takes on Adrian Mannarino and Mannarino has been pushed out 30 ticks after a woeful performance against John Isner (lost 6-4 6-0) which the market 'anticipated' superbly. This price looks about right to me given the circumstances, and it's interesting that both Zverev and Mannarino were 2/8 from break points each in their match last week. I expect this to be quite a return orientated match on what is likely to be a slower court than Atlanta, and I think laying Mannarino - whose lead loss stats are pretty bad - when leading in sets looks a decent strategy.
Tim Smyczek is out of form but opponent Tobias Kamke's hard court numbers aren't good either and whilst the oddsmakers make this a pick-em match, my model makes Smyczek value to get the victory. In-play, Kamke's lead loss stats are terrible, but Smyczek isn't good at recovering deficits.
Finally, Nicolas Almagro - a shade of his former self - faces a tricky looking match against young prospect Noah Rubin. I personally couldn't back Almagro at anything like the current 1.24 for this. His clay court stats aren't bad since his long injury lay off (although nothing like his previous level) but his hard court stats are very poor indeed. It wouldn't be a shock to see the progressive Rubin trade lower than SP, at least, in this clash.
August 6th, 2016:-
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ATP Atlanta moves into the semi-finals tonight, with Yoshihito Nishioka facing Nick Kyrgios and John Isner taking on Reilly Opelka. Both Kyrgios (1.15) and Isner (1.06) are heavy favourites to advance to the final, and the market is relatively accurate in this prediction.
In the opener at around 8pm UK time, Nishioka looks the most vulnerable front-runner this evening and with Kyrgios solid at deficit recovery in both sets 1 and 3 (he's been poor throughout his career when a set and break down) I make the Japanese youngster vulnerable in these spots. However, backing Kyrgios at very short prices doesn't particularly appeal, so it would require Nishioka to lead in the latter stages of the final set to warrant entry.
At midnight, John Isner takes to the court against fellow a big-server, the youngster Reilly Opelka, and it wouldn't be a shock to see Opelka keep this close and take Isner to at least one tiebreak. Do not expect an avalanche of service breaks in this match.
The Olympic event also starts today and I am also covering this event for the daily ATP/WTA spreadsheets, although with no prize money or ranking points, it's not clear-cut how motivated players will be in general. Certainly I recommend caution when trading the Olympic Tennis event.
It's difficult to know in advance how the courts will play in Rio de Janeiro but it wouldn't be a shock to see them play quite slow, despite the fact that the relatively pacy DecoTurf is used (similar to many US hard court events).
In the men's event, data indicates that John Millman (1.83) may struggle to retain leads against Ricardas Berankis, with the Australian having fitness doubts following his retirement last time out in Toronto. Considering this, my model makes value on the Lithuanian as a slight underdog.
Another Australian with fitness doubts is Thanasi Kokkinakis, and he faces the Portuguese clay-courter, Gastao Elias, whose hard court record is atrocious. Whilst my model indicated value on Kokkinakis, despite the fact that he's missed the season with injury, this really is a match for either addicts or someone with inside information. I'd rather back a toss of a coin.
The final men's match I want to look at is Denis Kudla against Andrej Martin, with Martin in the Elias bracket of having very poor hard court data. I typically find Kudla quite over-rated by the markets, except on grass, but I think he's a touch of value at around 1.50 in a match which is likely to be quite return orientated. Taking on Martin if he leads by a break in sets seems a decent entry point.
In the women's event, Saisai Zheng vs Agnieszka Radwanska has a unique dynamic in that Zheng looks very vulnerable as a front-runner but it's also worth bearing in mind Radwanska's terrible final set record.
Another player likely to struggle to retain leads is Magda Linette (plays Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova), with the Pole having an awful record in this respect, whilst the match between Monica Niculescu and Veronica Cepede looks likely to have plenty of breaks of serve.
Both Andrea Petkovic and Elina Svitolina are strong at recovering deficits and there may be entry points in this respect worthy of consideration in their match, as well.
August 5th, 2016:-
With today's matches in WTA Nanchang drawing to a close, and again generally low quality affairs, I want to focus on the matches at WTA Florianopolis and ATP Atlanta this afternoon and evening.
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Action starts in about half an hour at WTA Florianopolis where Timea Babos takes on Irina Begu in the final, and in a well matched clash, Begu has very marginal favouritism. My model made this just over the 4% threshold for value, and I quite like taking on Babos in selected spots in this match without staking hugely, although a swingy match both ways wouldn't be a huge shock.
Based on the lead loss/recovery spreadsheets, Babos is around average for front-running in set 1, strong when leading by a set and break in set 2, but terrible when leading (83.3% of first break leads lost in set three in the last two years) in set 3. Begu's recovery is reasonable throughout all sets but given Babos' tendencies, I feel that laying Babos when a break up in sets in sets 1 and 3 looks a solid strategy.
Over in Atlanta, the first match at 5pm UK time between Horacio Zeballos and Yoshihito Nishioka (1.75 favourite) is likely to be the most return orientated match of the day, with some big-servers in the other three matches.
Zeballos' in-play data shows that he doesn't have many in-play swings, and there is no value on either player based on my model, so pre-planned entry points are a little limited considering this.
Next on court at around 8pm, sees an interesting clash between Fernando Verdasco and Nick Kyrgios. Both players won in straight sets yesterday although Kyrgios' win over Jared Donaldson was a little more testing than Verdasco's, over the declining Julien Benneteau. Pre-match prices (Kyrgios 1.45) look reasonable given his projected hold percentages edge and much better clutch point data, which he's shown ability to maintain throughout his fairly short career so far. Short-term trades backing Kyrgios when losing on serve, in 0-30/15-40 spots looks to have some scope.
Teenager Reilly Opelka is in uncharted territory in his first ATP quarter final and he takes on countryman Donald Young for a semi-final berth. Young starts just shy of 1.30 and this looks reasonable given his experience, although it wouldn't be a surprise if Opelka, who is very serve orientated indeed, keeps this close at worst. Backing Young in similar spots to Kyrgios looks a fair approach, in a match where few entry points can be specified before the start.
Finally, another big-server, John Isner, takes on Taylor Fritz, and I make the talented youngster Fritz the value. You can read my handicap betting preview for this match, for Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokers, here.
August 4th, 2016:-
ATP and WTA action is rather thin on the ground today with 10 matches across the three events, and the Nanchang schedulers - in their infinite wisdom - starting three matches at the same time, around an hour ago, at 10am UK time. As mentioned this week, I don't have much interest in the tournament in China, but you have to wonder who makes these decisions...
There are two matches this afternoon (starting at 230pm) in Florianopolis where Ana Bogdan - whose hold/break stats aren't disastrous at all - takes on Timea Babos in the opener. My model made a touch of value on Bogdan at around 3.00 today, but as a heavy underdog with a low projected hold, it's unlikely to be a straightforward job for her to see out a winning position. The match is likely to have breaks of serve and could be quite a swingy affair.
Second on court is the match between Monica Puig (1.79) and Irina Begu, and with both players boasting relatively better serve numbers than return on hard court, this match is likely to be more serve orientated than the above match, even in the slow conditions in Brazil. Trading angles are quite hard to come by here.
Over in Atlanta, action starts at 7pm UK time and there are two matches at the same time to begin the schedule tonight.
Japanese prospect Yoshihito Nishioka takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov, with the more experienced Ukrainian around 1.40 in the markets, which I made a correct price. In fact, my model agreed with all the bookmaker prices in Atlanta tonight. Dolgopolov has solid deficit recovery stats from the lead loss/recovery spreadsheets (39.66% first break recoveries in all sets) and I think if Nishioka - who has quite a low projected hold percentage - gets in front, there's a much better chance than average that he'll get broken back. This was certainly the case on Tuesday night, when Nishioka gave up two set and break leads against Dan Evans.
Certainly this match is likely to be more return orientated than the next two matches on the schedule, Horacio Zeballos vs Tobias Kamke and Fernando Verdasco vs Julien Benneteau. In the former, Zeballos is the slight favourite which looks about right, whilst in the latter, Verdasco is 1.35 to get the better of the declining Frenchman. Neither match has dynamics which favour in-set swings so it's probably worth seeing how they play out before formulating a plan of entry points.
Finally, Nick Kyrgios, who lost to the Canadian teenage prospect Denys Shapovalov last week, takes on another - older - prospect in Jared Donaldson. Donaldson is as inconsistent as Kyrgios and it's difficult to be able to work out which version of Kyrgios will turn up. He starts at 1.23, which is about right, but if he starts poorly, then the market may well panic.
Also in the Granby Challenger tonight, I've written a handicap betting preview for Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokers for the match between James Ward and Frances Tiafoe, and you can read this here.
August 3rd, 2016:-
There's 12 main tour ATP/WTA matches today, and again with the Nanchang WTA event particularly low quality it's an event that I don't have huge interest in. Saying that, I do feel that the three underdogs (excepting Zhang - who I don't have much data on - vs King) are a little under-rated.
However, in the Florianopolis quarter finals we now have some matches resembling a typical WTA tournament with six of the eight players remaining covered by the lead loss/recovery data spreadsheets (just Bogdan/Kichenok are not). It's quite incredible we are at the quarter final stage today (usually they are played on Friday), with the tournament cramming in an event quickly, to finish on Friday, before the Olympic event starts.
First up, Jelena Ostapenko faces Timea Babos and my model quite likes the slight underdog Ostapenko in this, given that hold/break stats on hard court over the last 12 months are almost identical, and made Ostapenko the slight favourite. Ostapenko is a return orientated player and that has reduced projected hold percentages for both players to below the WTA mean, in conditions which don't favour servers. Given this, and the value on the Latvian, I feel that laying Babos at low prices (such as set and break, and in the third set when a break up), can be considered.
Irina Begu didn't impress in her first round match over the lucky loser Laura Pigossi but was more back to her normal level yesterday, and takes on the mediocre Nao Hibino third on court today. With Begu's recovery data solid, and Hibino poor as a front-runner, laying the 2.60 underdog Hibino when leading by a break and trading below SP looks to be the play.
Finally in Brazil, I really like the 18 year old Japanese talent, Naomi Osaka, as a player who can achieve plenty in the game and she definitely has the ability to give Monica Puig (1.55) a tough test today. Despite being quite a serve orientated player, Osaka's in-play dynamics are very swingy (possibly due to her age and implied inconsistency) and I don't particularly mind the approach laying Puig a break up in sets here, when trading below SP, but it wouldn't be something I'd go overboard on.
Over in Atlanta tonight, there are four matches as the second round gets underway.
First on court sees a clash of big servers with Kevin Anderson taking on the youngster, and 'new John Isner' Reilly Opelka. At least one tiebreak wouldn't be a huge shock and in a close match, it's likely that Anderson's experience will see him win enough key points to get over the line. Opelka's return data is woeful and it would be a shock to see him take a service game from Anderson. I make the price of a tiebreak in either of the first two sets around the same as Bet365 offer for one in the match (1.91) so effectively this represents some value given that you have a freeroll for any third set.
Tim Smyczek has plenty of history with Donald Young (they share 14 head to head matches, 7-7), and it's the former's bad form that sees him as a 3.40 underdog today, in the second match tonight. I think this is a spot of value, but Young is quite a hard player to price generally. In quite fast conditions, it's not a match that yields much in the way of pre-planned in play entries.
At around 11pm UK time, the current John Isner takes a 5-1 head to head lead into his match with Adrian Mannarino, and predictably, the big American's projected hold and 'clutch' score in the daily spreadsheets are high, and he starts as a heavy favourite at around 1.28. In-play options are a little limited, given Isner's serving tendencies are obviously well known by the market, but I quite like laying Mannarino if he gets three points up in one of the likely tiebreaks. This is a pretty low risk, high reward move.
Last on the schedule, early in the morning for Europeans, is Bjorn Fratangelo against Taylor Fritz. The better prospect, Fritz, starts as favourite at around 1.60 at the time of writing, and my model made this some value. I think it's fair to say that both players have the ability to throw away leads so this area would be a reasonable area to focus on this evening, if you are going to stay up for the last match tonight.
August 2nd, 2016:-
A mass of other projects and trading have meant that I haven't been as active as I'd have liked with both written match previews on here and the YouTube tournament preview videos, but now that those other projects are coming to an end (on which I will reveal more of in the next day or two) I'll be able to devote a lot more time to adding quality content on here on a regular basis.
This week there are three ATP/WTA tournaments in the run-up to the Olympics, which starts next week, and field quality is predictably woeful, particularly in the WTA side. I don't generally mind trading poor quality events because I'll back myself over the field even with limited data but these WTA events this week are, in the main, ITF quality.
Given this, I'll focus more on the ATP matches tonight in Atlanta, where there are seven matches on the card to complete the opening round.
Court conditions are likely to be on the fast side of average this week, although not hugely so, with hold percentages for the event around several percent above the ATP hard court mean.
Dan Evans kicks off the matches tonight with a clash against the young Japanese prospect Yoshihito Nishioka and, as with most matches tonight, bookmaker prices look about right, with Evans enjoying slight favourtism at around 1.70. Evans, from a small sample, has given up a high percentage of leads at ATP level and it wouldn't shock me to see either player trade higher from a low price. However, statistically, I don't really have enough data to back this up (the lead loss/recovery sheets don't have data on Nishioka yet).
Also at around 5pm UK time, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez faces Horacio Zeballos, and originally I must admit I saw the 1.60 about GGL and thought, that has to be value. However, when I ran the data into my model, quite surprisingly, the value was tiny, and it priced up Garcia-Lopez - whose hard court stats aren't that impressive - at 1.55. So with prices correct, in-play angles are needed, and I quite like the chances of GGL to hold serve much more than average, and to get his way out of tight spots against the limited Zeballos. GGL has a high projected hold, and high clutch score, so should over-perform expectations from 0-30/15-40 type spots.
The second set of matches start at around 630pm UK time, with Julien Benneteau (or a shade of the player formerly known as Julien Benneteau) takes on John-Patrick Smith, who will be looking for a good showing after his failure to defend points at Newport several weeks ago saw him plummet down the rankings. Smith has qualified to be here and whilst his win over Andrew Carter in QR1 was a borderline bye, a QR2 win as underdog over Tobias Kamke was more impressive. The slightly quick conditions are likely to be quite to his liking, as well.
Benneteau - as shown from low lead loss and recovery percentages - tends to have little in the way of in-set swings but I quite like the price of around 2.25 on Smith, against an opponent whose stats have declined rapidly in the last 12 months.
One player who does have plenty of in-set swings is Igor Sijsling, and when I get enough in-play data for this about his opponent, Bjorn Fratangelo, it wouldn't shock me if he does too. This match is the most likely to be return orientated amongst tonight's seven in Atlanta and my data favours laying Sijsling - who starts as a 2.40 underdog - when he's trading low (leading by a break lead and below SP). Data shows there certainly should be more chances than average to trade out at a higher price.
Sergiy Stakhovsky takes on Ivan Dodig following these matches, and it's fair to say that both are not in the best of form. Stakhovsky starts as slight favourite, and I think that's about right. Dodig's in-play stats indicate that despite a bad run of results, he does frequently get the first break deficit back in sets, but there isn't enough other positive elements that I require to warrant laying Stakhovsky heavily should the Ukrainian go a break up.
The other match third on court features Fernando Verdasco and Dusan Lajovic. Spanish veteran Verdasco starts as an understandably heavy favourite, despite unimpressive hard court stats, with Lajovic not only having played a lot of tennis (22 sets in 9 matches since mid July) and capitulating after taking the first set 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the Biella Challenger last week. The adjustment from clay to hard court for Lajovic, not to mention the travelling from Italy to America, should not be understated, and this is likely to cause him issues against a well-rested Verdasco, who has had several weeks off following his run to the final in Bastad. Lajovic really doesn't impress on hard court either, but with SPs about right, his projected hold not absurdly low, and Verdasco far from impressive when losing in matches, identifying in-play trading entry points prior to the match starting are hard to come by.
Finally on court, for the night owls, at around 11pm (but probably a little later), Taylor Fritz is a 1.02 favourite against the unranked wild card Austin Smith. I've never heard of Smith, who has never even played a main draw Challenger match or beaten a player ranked inside the top 1200. His 6-2 6-0 loss to a currently woeful Marinko Matosevic last week in the qualifiers for Lexington hardly yields much confidence that he can beat one of the best prospects in US tennis. Without much data on Smith, I'm happy to leave this match alone.