That picture is essentially how I felt yesterday watching David Goffin, who probably has to take a seat on The List. Man, he loses a lot. And as a favorite too. Goffin has been favored in 8 of his 10 losses in 2019. He is entering Gilles Simon territory.
That image is also an apt depiction of how I feel about my performance betting on tennis lately. Not sure what I am doing wrong, so the inevitable hot streak must be coming. I won over $4,000 after the US Open last year… and really I can’t do much worse than I am doing now. The turn is coming.
Djere survived… barely. Garin rolled pretty comfortably. Nishikori started slow and then turned up the heat. Main thing is, all three moved on.
Yannick Maden has not covered the +3.5 games in his last nine clay losses dating back to Munich last season. He has also not beaten someone ranked inside the top 150 since that same Munich tournament, when he survived a tight three setter against Yuichi Sugita. Maden’s only played five main draw clay ATP matches in his career but, he does have a winning record at the Challenger level. Cuevas, for his part, is most comfortable on clay, by far. He has covered -3.5 spread in 12 of his 13 wins this season on the surface, including both the ATP and Challenger levels. He has had some disappointing clay losses in 2019 but none have been to anyone on Maden’s level - FAA twice, Pella, Thiem, and Christian Garin are all much more accomplished than Maden. The concern I have is, of course, that Cuevas is coming off a title on Sunday. He did get an extra days rest, being pushed back to Wednesday so, I am enticed. It can’t be said that his title in Tunisia was taxing either. He didn’t drop a set and was only pushed beyond ten games three times in ten sets. He also only played one guy ranked in the top 200. I would normally write off betting a guy coming off a title but, Cuevas didn’t have to travel far (four hour flight) and he’s a tour vet at 33. The history shows Maden struggles to cover the spread when he loses and Cuevas dominates guys ranked near Maden. I’ll break “a rule” and bet Cuevas.
I’m on Sinner. I put it in yesterday when I thought the match was going then. I don’t know a whole ton about Sinner but what I do know is he is acquitting himself well already on the Challenger tour. He has won two Futures events already in 2019 and he won his first Challenger in Italy last month. He had a much needed week off last week and an extra day yesterday. So, he is making his ATP main draw debut today, well rested. And this bet is as much a fade of his opponent as anything else. Valkusz is a local Hungarian who has only entered three tournaments in 2019. He won a Futures event but, only two players in the draw actually had a ranking. I’ll take the Italian kid at a cheap price.
Millman somehow feels comfortable here in Budapest, on clay. Almost inexplicably. His clay hold/break numbers have never surpassed 100% and he doesn’t have much luck outside of Hungary (he did win a clay Challenger event last year though). Furthermore, he has never beat someone inside the top 50 outside of Budapest. Last year’s run here (and yesterday’s demolition of Kecmanovic) are truly outliers to his performance on clay at-large. So, I don’t really know how to cap this. Balazs is essentially strictly a clay player - he played 56 matches on the surface last year, winning a whopping 40. Unfortunately, most were in Futures events or sparsely attended Challenger events. I really want to back the local Hungarian here at +3.5 but, I have enough other action so, I’ll just pass.
Herbert is an ascendent singles and clay player (I had some futures on him at Roland Garros last year - way ahead of the curve!). He has maintained a combined hold/break number on the red stuff well above 100 for almost two years now and he is doing it with more than just a serve. His break percentage in 2018 was 18% and he has eeked that up to 19% this year. Getting somewhere near 25% would be ideal but, for these 250’s, with this level of opponent he is in his element. He smacked Gerasimov in round one and Bachinger isn’t much different statistically than the Belorussian (both around 65% hold on clay, 19% break on clay). I’m not getting into transitive properties here but, Bachinger lost in qualies to Lloyd Harris, who in turn got smacked in round one; now Bachinger has been granted a lucky loser into round two. Bachinger’s success has come on indoor hards and I can’t find a top 100 win for him on clay. I expect PHH to cover the spread.
Nadal owns Mayer. Nadal should be in ‘fuck you’ mode after playing, what he called, his worst clay match of his career last week in Monte Carlo. Five matches against Mayer, only one dropped set, in a tiebreak. Nadal’s hold/break numbers on clay are unassailable. This should be a truck. Nadal on the spread is at -6.5 though, which requires 63,62… yet, I can get u18.5 which would allow for 63,63. I’ll take the under.
Lucas Pouille has beaten Ferrer both times they have played and has better hold/break numbers on clay in the past two years than the retiring Ferrer. But, Pouille is some kind of serious slump since his miraculous Aussie Open run. He hasn’t won a match since Djokovic picked him apart. Additionally, Pouille is entered into the Bordeaux Challenger next week, so really, where is his head at? We know where Ferrer’s is at. Present. Ferrer is picking his spots and not having too bad of a season during his swan song. His two most recent losses were to Zverev and Tiafoe, not too shabby at all. He laid the smack down on Mischa yesterday and I am sure he sees Nadal on the horizon and would love a good bye match with his compatriot. I expect Ferrer to roll.
When should Benoit Paire be this big of a favorite against a top 30 player? Marrakech was the mercurial Frenchman’s first title in four years and only his second ever on tour. Will he be motivated to play in this tournament where he routinely bombs out early (he has been past the second round only twice in eight years)? Paire and PCB have played ten times and while Paire holds an advantage, it is slight and the clay series is much tighter. When healthy the last two years, PCB has far outplayed Paire on this surface and it shows in the hold/break stats. This PCB’s first match back from a lengthy absence for a right shoulder (serving) injury but, my guess is if he had 10 weeks off, he must be ready to go. He can’t be rushing back at this point. I’ll take this huge dog price, count on Paire being unmotivated and count on PCB’s clay talent to rise to the top.
Pella and Khachanov have never played, their career winning percentage on clay is almost identical and their 2018 and 2017 hold/break numbers on clay are super similar. I don’t see an edge here. Any proficency Pella has on clay, or experience advantage, should be offset by the fact that Pocket Kings was out early in Monte Carlo and should be well rested, while Pella went four rounds deep last week and had to play a tough three setter yesterday. I lean Khachanov for those reasons but, I don’t feel like I can make the Russian the favorite. Khachanov’s loss last week to Sonego was also a tad concerning. I’ll pass on this.
Will Fognini care? Much like Paire, I suspect the answer is no. Fog won, by far, his biggest title on Sunday. Like, it’s not even close. He’d never even won a 500 level title before. There is no statistical argument to be made for Kuhn. If you are playing the young Spaniard you are banking on Fog putting up a no-show and Kuhn backing up his nice comeback win yesterday (dropped the second set to Delbonis and then rolled in the third). A spread of +4.5 seems extreme and I’ll gladly fade Fog here. I could easily see him dropping the first set, if not losing outright.
Shap’s least favorite surface seems to be clay. His hold/break stats are underwhelming and went out early to Struff last week. I have an outright on Garin though and I don’t want to necessarily double down. I do think Garin can win though. And looking at Shap’s clay results, his four non-French Open losses last year were all destructions. When he is beat, he gets really beat. This total seems propped up by the fact that these two guys routinely play tiebreaks but, if Shap goes down, he is going down quick and 22.5 games seems generous. I’ll take the under.
FAA is on a serious upswing. He showed during the Golden Swing that he can compete with the second and third tier clay players on tour. A category Jaziri certainly fits into. Their hold/break stats in 2019 are not even in the same ball park. Additionally, before squeezing past Andreozzi (a lucky loser) in the first round, Jaziri hadn’t won a match in quite a while. Last week FAA lost to Zverev and there is no shame in that. Prior to that he had lost to Isner in the Miami semis, a tight match to Nishioka in Indian Wells, and twice to Djere in South America. Jaziri should not present a problem. I will parlay this moneyline as the -4.5 spread makes me nervous when it’s not someone like Nadal.
What to make of Medvedev on clay? ARV is a true vet of the surface and he played surprisingly well (given his last 18 months) in round one, slamming Cameron Norrie 62,62. He also made it through qualifying without dropping a set. So, is ARV ‘feeling’ it again? And will Medvedev crash back to earth? Prior to his great run last week in Monte Carlo Medvedev had had zero success on clay. I have no feel for this match and will stay on the sidelines to see how Medvedev reacts.
I never bet Gilles Simon. Avoid at all costs. However….. (this never goes well). I have no idea how Mackenzie McDonald beat Taro Daniel in round one. McDonald does not have great clay stats. Simon does. It’s actually a massive mismatch on paper. So big, in fact, that I make Simon about -500. Yet, he is sitting there at -250. This seems too cheap to pass up, despite my reservations about Simon as a favorite. I’m so not trusting of him, I’ll avoid the spread and parlay this moneyline.
Do not bet Dimitrov clay matches. Please see Istanbul, 2016. A little piece of my heart is still there.
Cuevas -3.5, -120
Sinner ml, -138
PHH -3.5, -138
Nadal/Mayer u18.5, -120
Ferrer -2.5, -110
PCB ml, +200
Kuhn +4.5, -138
Shap/Garin u22.5, -110
Simon/FAA ml, -141