Tennis - This Week's Preview
Before I provide my analysis and preview of this week’s ATP Tournaments I’ll provide a quick recap of the French Open. It was business as usual for top seed and reigning champion Rafa Nadal in yesterday’s men’s final as he bludgeoned seventh seed Thiem in to a straight sets submission 6-4 6-3 6-2. The win extended Nadal’s French Open record to eleven titles and this takes him within one Grand Slam of beating the overall open era record held by Margaret Court, who won eleven Australian Championships and Opens between 1960 and 1973.
The women’s title was won by top seed and favourite Simona Halep who came from a set down to beat reigning US Open champion and tenth seed Sloane Stephens 3-6 6-4 6-1. Halep’s first Grand Slam title was well overdue and it’s great to see her consolidate the number one ranking by winning one and proving she is the best player in the world at present.
The French Open ends the first half of the European Clay Court season and the ATP tour now switches to the grass courts of Europe in the lead up to the third Grand Slam of the season at Wimbledon. The transition from clay to grass has proved to be a difficult one for many players on the ATP and WTA Tours over the years, including the big names and top seeds.
From a match betting perspective over the next few weeks I suggest keeping a note of how well the top five seeds do at each tournament between now and Wimbledon as from 2010 my records show they have a losing record of more than 150 points if you had opposed them in every singles match (except when two top five seeds are drawn to play each other) to a level 1 point stake. As a reminder of this Federer lost his opening match at Stuttgart last year at short odds against veteran Tommy Haas.
On to this week's ATP action and there are two grass court events, the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany and the Libema Open, in s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. Defending champion and second seed Pouille returns to Stuttgart for a shot at winning back-to-back titles and world number two and top seed Roger Federer returns to the ATP Tour after missing the European clay court swing and French Open.
The record of the top seed at Stuttgart over the last decade does don’t support a Federer win this week as over the last decade the top seed won only two of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2015) and they were never a losing finalist during this period. The second seed also has a poor record having never won the title over the last decade and they were a losing finalist only twice during this period (last 2013), which does not bode well for reigning champion Pouille’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general have performed well over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five won six of the last ten titles (last Thiem 2016) and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist six times during this period (last Kohlschreiber 2016). Unseeded players have experienced some success over the last decade and as well winning three of the last ten titles (last 2012) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist three times during this period (last 2014).
From an outright tournament betting perspective at Stuttgart past statistics suggest a seeded player no higher than five is most likely to win this year’s title, a seeded player up to eight is most likely to be the other finalist and an unseeded players chances of winning the title or reaching the final are medium to low. As mentioned above I’m opposing the top two seeds Federer and Pouille because of the record of the top two seeds at Stuttgart over the last decade.
Fourth seed Kyrgios (10/1) and 2017 semi-finalist Paire (50/1) who is unseeded both appeal from a tournament winner betting perspective as they are comfortable and have experience of winning and playing well on the surface. They also both have big first serves, which can make them tough to break if they serve well, and they are both good at the net and like to play aggressively, which are good tactics to adopt on grass.
At s-Hertogenbosch reigning champion and fourth seed Muller returns to defend his title against other seeds like Khachanov and veterans Gasquet and Verdasco. The top two seeds have a poor record over the last decade, which does not bode well for top seed Mannarino and second seed Mullers chances this week. The top seed has won only two of the last ten titles (last 2012) and they were never a losing finalist during this period and the second seed has won none of the last ten titles and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Goffin 2015).
Seeded players in general have a good record at s-Hertogenbosch and a player seeded no higher than three won five of the last ten titles (last Mahut 2016) and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist six times during this period (last Muller 2016). Unseeded players also have a good record at s-Hertogenbosch winning five of the last ten titles (last Mahut 2015) and they were a losing finalist four times during this period (last Mahut 2013).
From a tournament winner betting perspective at s-Hertogenbosch I’m going to side with a few unseeded players this week as there are usually plenty of upsets and surprise winners and finalists at this tournament. Chardy (14/1) from France is unseeded this week but has a good advantage over most of the field having played and won the Surbiton Challenger on grass last week. If he is motivated and physically capable there’s no reason why he can’t continue that good run this week and challenge for a second title in as many weeks.
Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene (28/1) is a player who can transfer from clay to grass without any major adjustments to his game as his run to the quarter finals at s-Hertogenbosch last year proves. He was beaten by eventual winner Muller last year in a close three set encounter and he went on to reach the third round at Wimbledon beating experienced professionals Karlovic and Dzumhur. If he can put them experiences to good use and play as well again this year he will give himself a decent chance of making the final, especially with the top-half seeds like top seed Mannarino, third seed Muller and seventh seed Sugita all being out of form at present.
From a first round match betting perspective there’s a few matches at both tournaments I like and that will hopefully return a profit. At Stuttgart I think it could profitable to oppose fifth seed Kohlschreiber against the unseeded Istomin (16/5) as Istomin leads the head-to-head 3-2, he won their only match on grass at Wimbledon and he’s got experience of beating Kohlschreiber on home soil. At s-Hertogenbosch fifth seed and NextGen star Tsitsipas is worth opposing against Netherlands Wild Card Griekspoor (16/11) because the young Greek is too short form me given his career experience on grass and Griekspoor should be able to raise his game enough in front of his home crowd to push Tsitsipas close and hopefully cause the upset today. Finally, home hope and sixth seed Haase (9/8) is worth backing to beat veteran Karlovic as he beat him at s-Hertogenbosch back in 2015 and hopefully home soil and support will be able to help carry him over the line again tomorrow.
N Kyrgios (10/1) WIN
Paire (50/1) E/W
J Chardy (14/1) E/W
A Bedene (28/1) E/W
Tomic (price tbc) E/W
Istomin to beat Kohlschreiber (16/5)
Griekspoor to beat Tsitsipas (16/11)
Haase to beat Karlovic (9/8)