Tennis - This Week's Preview
The ATP Tour returns after a three week break due to the US Open and Davis Cup and there are two European ATP 250 Indoor tournaments taking place this week at Metz in France and St Petersburg, Russia. Both tournaments have attracted decent fields with the likes of US Open semi-finalist and top-seed this week Carreno-Busta and defending champion and third seed this week Pouille lining up at Metz and former top 10 stars top-seed Bautista Agut and second seed Tsonga at St Petersburg.
I will start my analysis with the tournament at Metz and the top-seed has quite a strong record having won three of the last ten titles (last Tsonga 2012) and they were also a losing finalist twice in this period (last 2016 Thiem), which bodes well for Carreno-Busta’s chances this week. The second seed has not performed as well winning only one of the last ten titles (2013 Simon) and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last 2015 Simon), which does not bode well for 2014 winner Goffin’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general have performed well at Metz over the last decade; a player seeded no higher than eighth has won the last ten titles, a player seeded no higher than three won seven of the last ten titles, a player seeded no higher than six was a losing finalist nine times in this period and two seeded players have contested the last six finals.
French players, not surprisingly, have performed well at Metz over the last decade and they have won seven of the last eight titles. With that in mind I think sixth seed Gasquet (9/1) is worth siding with as he’s got a great record indoors on home soil, he made the final at Montpellier and semis at Marseille earlier this year and has the talent and experience to win his first ATP title of 2017 this week. In addition, he will want to improve his ranking again after dropping outside the top 20 due to having to take over two months off the ATP Tour earlier in the year due to injury.
One other French player who interests me this week is the unseeded Pierre-Hugues Herbert (33/1) as he’s a solid player and his game is well suited to quick indoor conditions as he likes using serve and volley tactics. He also has a winning head-to-head record against the main dangers in the top-half of the draw, fifth seed Zverev, who he opens against, top-seed Carreno-Busta and third seed Pouille and if he can replicate that level of form this week he will be difficult to stop reaching the final from the top half of the draw.
St Petersburg defending champion Alexander Zverev does not return to defend his title choosing to take a longer break after a very busy and successful breakthrough 2017 season, but the event has managed to attract a few stars namely top-seed Bautista Agut and second seed Tsonga. The top seed has an average record at St Petersburg over the last decade having won only one of the last ten titles (last 2008 Murray), and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2016 Wawrinka), which does not bode well for Bautista Agut’s chances this week.
The second seed does not have a great record either having only won two of the last ten titles (last Raonic 2015) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (last 2011), which does not bode well for Tsonga’s chances this week. Seeded players in general have a good record at St Petersburg and a player seeded no higher than six won eight of the last eight titles and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist seven times over the last decade. Unseeded players have also experienced some success at St Petersburg over the last decade winning two of the last ten titles (last 2010) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist three times during this period (last 2013 Garcia-Lopez).
From a betting perspective, it’s worth going for a couple of seeds based on statistics over the last decade and fourth seed Mannarino (16/1) and fifth seed Kohlshreiber (8/1) both fit the bill and are playing well enough to mount a serious challenge for the title this week. It’s worth going for a couple of unseeded players as well and from the bottom half of the draw Medvedev (20/1) and Dzumhur (25/1) are talented enough and have shown good enough form, either recently or this year, to suggest they are capable of challenging for the title this week.