This Week's Tennis Preview
Last week’s ATP tennis action at Stockholm, Moscow and Antwerp was completed on Sunday and Juan Martin Del Potro (advised 4/1) ended his 2016 title drought beating America’s Jack Sock to land the Stockholm title. At Moscow sixth seed Pablo Carreno-Busta’s superb breakthrough season continued when he won his second ATP title (first was Winston Salem) defeating the unseeded Fabio Fognini who was aiming to win his second ATP title of 2016 (first Umag).
At Antwerp, Britain’s Kyle Edmund narrowly missed out on his first ATP final losing a close three set semi-final against third seed Richard Gasquet 3-6 7-5 6-2 on Saturday. Gasquet won his second ATP title of the season (first Montpellier) on Sunday defeating the unseeded Diego Schwartzman in the final and the diminutive Argentinian was also aiming to win his second ATP title of the season (first Istanbul).
On to this week’s action and there are two ATP 500 Tournaments in Basel, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria to dissect. Seven time Basel Winner and defending champion Roger Federer does not feature this season due to injury, but the tournament has still attracted a quality line up with world number three, top-seed and 2006 and 2011 semi-finalist Stan Wawrinka (3/1), who is aiming to win a fifth title of the season, after lifting the trophies at Chennai, Dubai, Geneva and the US Open.
World number four and second seed this week Milos Raonic will aim to reach a fifth ATP final of the season this week and win his second title after winning Brisbane at the start of the season. World number five and third seed Kei Nishikori plays his first tournament since Tokyo where he retired injured and he will aim to reach a fifth ATP final of the season and win his second title after lifting the trophy at Memphis.
Other players of note this week are fourth seed Marin Cilic (9/1) and fifth seed David Goffin, who are both still in the hunt to qualify for the season ending World Tour Finals in London. The list also includes the in-form Richard Gasquet seeded seven, who will aim to win a third ATP title this week after winning Montpellier and Antwerp last week, and also Stockholm and Moscow finalists Jack Sock and Moscow winner Pablo Carreno-Busta (unseeded this week).
The top seed has a superb record at Basel winning seven of the last ten titles, including the last three, which bodes well for Stan Wawrinka’s chances this week and, as he won Geneva on home soil this season, he has to be considered as a serious challenger even though he disappointed at the Shanghai Masters recently. The second seed has an average record at Basel winning two of the last ten titles (last 2012), they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last 2010) and, with second seed Milos Raonic still struggling with injury problems, he makes no appeal this week.
Seeded players in general have a very strong record at Basel and a player seeded no higher than three won the last 10 titles and a seeded player no higher than seven was a losing finalist eight times in this period (last 2015). 2015 semi-finalist and eighth seed Jack Sock, who resides in the top-half of the draw (16/1) is in good form; he reached the quarter-finals at Shanghai, final at Stockholm last week and reached the semi-finals at Basel last season after making the Stockholm final, so is worth following again as a fail-safe in case Wawrinka disappoints.
While unseeded players don’t have a great record at Basel (losing finalist twice over the last decade) Wild Card and Stockholm winner Juan Martin Del Potro (6/1) has to be taken seriously based on his recent form. He has winning form against all the seeded players in his half of the draw except fifth seed Goffin, but it looks like the Belgian’s recent busy schedule (Final Tokyo, quarter-finals Shanghai and semi-finals Antwerp) could be catching up with him as he struggled at Antwerp last week and I don’t expect him to beat Del Potro on this occasion if they meet in the second round.
At Vienna 2014 winner Andy Murray lines up as the top-seed and with the top-seed having such a strong record winning six of the last ten titles (last 2015) and a seeded player no higher than seven winning nine of the last ten titles it’s hard to oppose the world number two this week as he’s been in such good form of late. However, at 4/6 he makes little appeal so I will focus on the bottom half of the draw in search of finding some each way value.
The second seed has an average record at Vienna winning two of the last ten titles (last 2014) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (last 2011), which puts me off advising second seed Berdych. Fourth seed Bautista-Agut (12/1) has been in great form of late reaching the semi-finals at St Petersburg (lost to Wawrinka) and final at the Shanghai Masters (lost to Murray). He has a winning record against sixth seed Tsonga who he’s drawn to meet at the quarter-final stage and has beaten second seed Berdych in the past so is worth siding with based on his current form.
From a first round match betting perspective at Basel Antwerp winner Gasquet (1.14), Cilic (1.16), Goffin (1.4) and Kuznetsov (1.36) are all worth opposing from a match betting or trading perspective at short odds, while Verdasco, Pouille, Baghdatis and Sousa should win their respective first round matches and the four-fold can be backed at around 17/1.