Tournament Previews 22-29 September


I’m focusing on the three main ATP/WTA tournaments this week – not the Ningbo WTA Challenger although it does have a reasonable field.  With the WTA tournament in Tokyo having a 56 player field, as well as the ATP tournaments, I’m sure that will be enough to keep me busy!

Last year in Bangkok there were 77.7% of service games held.  This is 1.6% below the ATP average of 79.3%, and the 2011 data isn’t much different either, showing 77.4% of service games held (1.9% below average).  On that basis it would appear to give a slight edge to the receiver in an average service game.

Overall 62% of favourites have won there in my sample, which is pretty much level with the 250 Indoor Hard mean of 63%.  It’s a little below the Indoor Hard overall mean of 65% though.  Underdogs definitely can’t be discounted here although I won’t be giving them too much of a bias for sure. 

Richard Gasquet is the defending champion here and the second seed this year – last year he defeated Gilles Simon in the final for the loss of 3 games.  His French compatriot is the third seed but is flying from Metz, where he reached the Final, so it’s very unlikely he will be in a good condition to repeat his final place.

Roberto Bautista-Agut, Denis Istomin and  Lukas Rosol (as well as the aforementioned Simon) are all playing this week after playing quarter finals in Europe – my research shows that players reaching the quarter finals or better and travelling long distances have a terrible return on investment and I will almost certainly be looking to oppose these players this week.

Those players form part of a list of players that I’m willing to draw a line through regarding outright tournament selections.   Jarkko Nieminen has had fitness concerns recently and Robin Haase just hasn’t shown nearly enough on hard/indoor to be considered.   Last year he was defeated by Hiroki Moriya, who is in with a chance of qualifying again this year.

Logically it’s a good plan to try and pick someone from Gilles Simon’s quarter for a back to lay chance – realistically that’s either the winner of the Ivo Karlovic v Bernard Tomic match.  I wouldn’t want to take a chance with Tomic, as it’s anyone’s guess as to how his mental state is after the publication of Thomas Drouet’s diaries earlier this week.   Karlovic, who has broken just 7.7% on hard/indoor in the past 12 months (holding 89.8%) can’t be considered on that basis either.  I’ll probably leave that segment of the draw.

Tomas Berdych is the top seed and has the best combined hold/break percentage, but is priced accordingly at a best priced 2.25 (5/4).  Milos Raonic and Richard Gasquet are the next top two in the market but again that’s justifiable based on the stats.  I’m really struggling to find a player that I think represents great value based on their stats and draw – Yen Hsun Lu is an interesting prospect but he would face Berdych in a potential quarter final, and Mikhail Youzhny – a very strong player indoors – also, but he is seeded to meet Gasquet in the quarters too and is probably no value at 13.00 (12/1). 

Because there isn’t a single player that stands out based on the stats and draw, there will be no outright recommendations in Bangkok.

Last year in Kuala Lumpur, the average service hold was very low at 74.3%, and with 2011 stats showing 73.8% of holds it would be fair to say that conditions do not suit servers here.  There could be some very good opportunities to lay the server in Kuala Malaysia this week.

Juan Monaco is the defending champion but isn’t participating this week, so we will have a new winner.  Interestingly, none of the 8 winners or runners up in the tournament since it began in 2009 have got to the final more than once. 

This tournament has a very high success rate with 69% of favourites winning in my sample which puts it near the top for 250 events on Indoor Hard.  I’d recommend exercising some caution before backing underdogs here this week.   

It’s worth noting that Joao Sousa, Michal Przysiezny and Dmitry Tursunov all are playing after playing quarter/semi finals in St. Petersburg and on the same basis as the players mentioned in Bangkok, I will almost certainly be opposing these players too. 

Regarding the outright betting, David Ferrer leads the market at 2.50 (6/4) and that’s justifiably so based on his hard/indoor record of 79.6% holds and 33.9% breaks (113.5%) in the past 12 months.  Nicolas Almagro and Stan Wawrinka are close behind at 106.5% and 106.3% respectively, but they are the second and third favourites.  On that basis, Almagro at 13.00 (12/1) represents better value than Wawrinka at 5.00 (4/1) although I feel the Swiss has a slightly easier quarter, with only Marcos Baghdatis and the travel weary Dmitry Tursunov a likely threat.

I like looking at the Jurgen Melzer seeded quarter (the second quarter of the draw) and I’m looking at this as a weak area.  Based on the stats, Vasek Pospisil appears to be the likely candidate to make it through with 83.8% holds and 20.0% breaks (as well as some good recent form) and he’s likely to benefit from a kind draw where he will face clay courters Victor Hanescu and probably Federico Delbonis on the way to face Melzer in the quarter finals.  I was hoping for bigger than 21.00 (20/1) on the Canadian but considering I make him relatively short odds to make the semi-finals I will tentatively recommend that.

The Tokyo WTA event started earlier today with 11 first round matches.  On that basis I won’t be assessing the outright market, although as with any hard court tournament not involving Serena Williams, it’s Victoria Azarenka’s to lose.  Her stats are absolutely streets ahead of any other female player except the world number one.

In 2012 the surface played relatively fast with 66.0% of service games held (62.9% WTA average) and a little above average in 2011 (64.1%).  The 11 matches earlier today featured 64.0% holds, so we can definitely assess that the surface favours servers a little. 

2011 featured 72% of favourites winning, and this figure was 71% in 2012.  These figures are well above the WTA average on hard court and with this being a higher category Premier event we can assume from these figures that we can guarantee most players will be giving their best this week.

Agnieszka Radwanska has got to the last two finals, winning in 2011 and was surprisingly runner-up to Nadia Petrova in 2012.  With the Russian missing this week a big drop in the rankings is in store for her.   Radwanska is the second seed and having won the title in Seoul today goes into this week in confident mood – it’s worth pointing out that top players struggle much less with tournaments immediately after finals than lower ranked players.   She’s still the player to beat in the bottom half of the draw.

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