Simon Bolelli’s total collapse cost me a perfect day. Up 62,21 and cruising, he had generated eight break opportunities to Popyrin’s zero and then he had a break point to go up in the second…. didn’t convert and was down 0-40 immediately after and then broken. The exact same scenario happened in the third set. Just weak mental play.
There is an outright article up at @bangthebook and an @ballboyztennis podcast. Two very fun tournaments this week with surprisingly deep fields. And it’s European action - up for tennis at breakfast, then all through lunch. Perfect.
Martin Klizan, flat out, is ahead of Gulbis in every category I look at when capping a tennis match. Start with hold/break stats on the surface in question; better each of the last three years. And the full sample sizes of 2017 and 2018 show it’s not just bad better than worse. Klizan’s clay court hold/break numbers are actually good. Klizan has a career winning percentage that is better on this surface. Klizan had a much better 2018 on this surface. And Klizan actually has a winning record in his career in tiebreaks. As for recent form, Gulbis is straight fade material - he has lost his last seven matches, winning only two sets along the way. Their rest factor is the same but, Klizan’s familiarity with the venue is way higher than Gulbis. The last thing I look at, as a just in case, is head-to-head. They’ve each won a match against the other on clay but, Gulbis’ win was four years ago and Klizan’s was last year, making it slightly more relevant. I’m on Klizan!
Struff is a decent sized favorite and in the smaller size of 2019 his hold/break stats are strikingly higher. That is coupled with the fact that Struff went four rounds deep in Barcelona before losing a tight affair to Rafa; a good showing for him in a deep 500 level event. The issue I have with backing at this high of a price is that in the previous two seasons, a much bigger sample size, Monteiro and Struff actually have pretty similar hold/break numbers and their career winning percentages on clay are not that different. Monteiro has been through qualifying here over the past two days and Monteiro has a fairly unique ability to show up and produce an upset - when he cares. I’ll pass on this.
Oh man, I want to bet Sonego. I mentioned on the podcast that he has looked really sharp as of late - making back to back quarter-finals in Marrakech and Monte Carlo. I correctly predicted he would open as a small dog or a pick’em (he opened +100 and has since taken money to move to a pick’em). Fucsovics is a solid player, nothing spectacular, and not a push over. Like Klizan, mentioned above, he has better hold/break number across the board but, here is where I’ll dig into current form (admittedly, perceived) and let it outweight the stats. As just mentioned, Sonego went to the quarter-finals in Marrakech, losing to Tsonga, then he won five matches in Monte Carlo before losing in the quarters to Lajovic. He beat guys like Djere, Seppi, Khachanov, and Cameron Norrie. All guys as good as Fucs or better. Fucs meanwhile, hasn’t been able to put together back to back wins more than one time in 2019. His clay season has seen him lose to Tsitsipas and Norrie, no shame there, but, he also hasn’t really beaten anyone - a struggling Basilashvili and Denis Kudla. This probably isn’t an overly smart pick but, I like Sonego here.
Taro Daniel owns every stat category I present. He is far more experienced than Ugo and Ugo hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 150 since his great run in Marseilles back in February. The number is cheap too, making me want to jump on Taro even more. The reason I am holding off is simply potential fatgiue. This will be Taro’s fourth tournament in four weeks, as he has hop-scotched across Europe from Morocco to Monte Carlo to Spain and now to Portugal. Not big trips for sure, all in western Europe/northwest Africa but still, that’s four flights and four hotels and four venues. I’ll pass.
Andreozzi doesn’t win enough at the tour level to interest me. He rocks a whopping 0.267 winning percentage on this, his “best” surface. Dellien is having a strong 2019 but, the work was predominantly done in South America - he’s yet to win a main draw match outside that continent. I’ll pass on this, though I lean to Dellien to pull this off.
DeMinaur was fine on the Challenger level with clay last year. He went to the finals in Alicante and then the semis in Braga. But, he has yet to have any success on the ATP tour - he’s logged ONE win in two years and couldn’t come through in Davis Cup either against the likes of Dennis Novak. Now, Domingues is almost exclusively a Challenger level player, so ADM should be fine but, the low price makes me nervous and I’ll just watch this one and see how ADM looks.
I really want to bet Opelka here. I think he’ll turn out fine on clay, much like Isner who does well at some of the faster clay venues. But, Opelka’s collapse in the wind in Houston a few weeks ago is concerning and Estoril is ocean-side and may be windy. On a pure handicap, I am sure he’ll be fine. I don’t think Pedro Sousa is really a tour level player but, he will be in front a home crowd and on his favored surface. So, I’ll just pass on this, too many red flags.
Seriously, what do you do with this match? Nishioka is favored and he has never won a clay match on tour. Seriously. McDonald also, had never won a match on clay before last week in Barcelona when he suddenly ripped off two upsets. I have zero idea how to handicap this. If nothing else, current from would dictate you take the plus money on MM. I’ll just pass.
Klizan -2.5, -138
Sonego ml, -120
(PS, a degenerate moneyline parlay of Klizan, Taro, Sonego, Dellien, and Opelka pays 15/1… just sayin’)