It’s been a whole, full, three weeks since I wrote anything (other than the weekly previews). And it feels refreshing. It’s been a grind in 2019 And let’s be honest, I was way too busy and distracted for this. I probably should have quit betting/posting altogether this summer. I am down almost $3,000 since Wimbledon and am down a full $2000 just in August. It’s been a shitshow. Wedding, multiple vacations, and a some career transition. Too much.
Anyway, back to normal. Eleven weeks to make back somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5000. This should be fun.
Here’s a full recap of the summer:
The preview article is up at BangTheBook for the US Open. It’s huge; most I’ve ever written. Give it a read if you haven’t already, even if you don’t bet what’s in it. It’s a solid history lesson, if nothing else.
The podcast is up as well, at BallBoyzTennis. Give it a listen.
Djokovic should cruise in his first match. He is, without doubt, the greatest hard court player of all time and he is super comfortable at the US Open. But, -10.5 is a massive line. In first round matches at Slams Djoker has only covered that line four times in the last five years. RCB, on the other hand, has only ever won a single five set match on a hard court; last year at the US Open. But, it was against the #304 player in the world. Djoker should truck Baena on a hard court but, this line feels just about right. You’d be looking for 63,62,62 to get it there. I’ll pass, there has to be better value on the board, especially considering the -10.5 is priced at -150 for me. A better bet maybe the third set handicap, which is something I’ve been tackling in 2019 at Slams. I’m probably not going to share every opportunity but, in this case if Djoker takes the first two sets, be on the look-out for the third set handicap. If your name is not Hurkacz or Tsonga or Thiem or Roger you’re not getting more than three games off Djoker in a final set. If the third set is Djoker -2.5 and less than -200 juice, you should hit it.
Querrey is 8-4 in the first round at the US Open in his career and he has covered a -5.5 line in six of those eight wins. Funnily enough, all four of his losses were to guys outside the top 50, like Londero. However, in this case, Querrey feels safe. Londero is much more of a clay court player than any previous Querrey US opponents. Londero is 3-5 on hard courts so far in 2019 - those three wins were over 35 year old Tommy Robredo in qualies, an injured Berrettini and fellow clay court specialists Cristian Garin. The last piece of the puzzle for me is the spread in relation to the moneyline. Querrey is -500 yet has a spread of -5.5. Other players with a -500 moneyline, like Wawrinka and Kecmanovic have a spread of -6.5. I’ll bite on Querrey.
There is not a lot of statistical difference between Tipsarevic and Kudla when it comes to hold/break numbers on hard courts. Of course, when it comes to career accomplishments on the surface, Tipsy blows Kudla away but, we are not dealing with peak (or even post-peak) Tipsy… we’re dealing with a retiring Tipsy. The Serb announced this would be his last tournament earlier this week (not to be cynical, and I have no way to verify this buuuuut, I would not be surprised if this was also the last protected ranking slot Tipsy had available). I’d take Tipsy here as a dog purely on past pedigree and because he should put in a solid effort, this being his last kick at the can. Which means, I’m a little surprised that he is the dog. Kudla is nothing special on hard courts. Another interesting tidbit here, the over/under is lined at 37.5. This is the ONLY match on the board where the favorite is less than -200 and the total is less than 38.5 (usually the bigger the favorite, the lower the total and vice versa). Anyway, if I had to bet this, I would take the over. I’ll pass though.
Steve Darcis hasn’t played a hard court match since February and he hasn’t won an ATP hard court match since New Years. Lajovic has played some hard court matches but, to almost no avail. I mean, he might as well be Spanish or South American given his preference for clay. Lajovic is a 0.507 player on clay and is well below 0.500 on the other surfaces. He has 1351 ranking points and 1011 of them come from clay (one of the largest percentages on tour). I suspect Lajovic will win this just based on talent (and match fitness) alone but, it’s about the twice the price I would line it. Pass.
Since coming back from injury at the beginning of 2018 Stan hasn’t been covering -6.5 spreads against too many people. He beat Dimitrov handily here last year and he destroyed Kovalik and Garin at the French this year but, clay is, of course, his favoured surface. I suspect Stan will be far too much for Sinner, in his first main draw slam match but, I am unsure how close it will be. Stan is a solid parlay piece if you need one, although at -500 he doesn’t bring much value to the table (basically, if you are parlaying two guys around -300 to -350, then Stan will get you into plus money, but, that’s about it). Pass.
I’m not one to be scared off a guy coming off a title win. One, the match was Saturday, so Hurkacz has had a day to get to New York and get situated. Two, it’s a Slam, Hurkacz should be focused. Three, he’s 22 and already had three Challenger titles to his name. Four, there is no tennis after the US Open, he can go party then. I expect full effort here. This is a kid who’s Slam results are pretty skewed given that his last two Slams he has run into Djokovic early. And he actullay improved. After getting thumped at the French, he took a set off the Serb at Wimbledon and really went toe-to-toe for the first two sets before the wheels came off. These two guys have super similar hard court hold/break numbers but, Chardy is treading water while Hurkacz is on the dramatic up-swing. Additionally, Chardy withdrew from Winston-Salem with a foot injury so, he may not be 100% and he hasn’t been past the second round of a Slam since the 2016 French Open more than three years ago. So, while this price seems a little steep, I’ll look to parlay this.
Djere is very similar to Lajovic - a guy ranked inside the top 40 who is there almost entirely due to clay. Djere has 1200 ranking points as of today and 1034 of them come from clay. He’s 1-6 on hard courts this year and carries a career 0.217 winning percentage on the surface. In his six losses he has won… one set. Kecmanovic beat Djere at Indian Wells in straight sets, including a tiebreak and I expect a similar result here. You can get the -6.5 at -110 or go for a 3-0 victory at plus money. I’ll take the 3-0 and look to hit a third set handicap on Kec if it’s -2.5 close to plus money or a juicy -1.5.
I don’t know anything about Zachary Svajda. Let’s follow that with, Paolo Lorenzi should not be -1600 to anyone on a hard court. I’ll pass on this.
Oh man, do I want to bet Opelka here. Fog has had plenty of success against big men but, all the wins have come on clay. The only two wins I can find against the giants of the game, on hard courts, are a tired Delpo in Los Cabos last year and Sam Querrey at the Aussie Open in 2014. Opelka’s true strength lies on indoor hards and faster courts (I could see him having some success at the Aussie in January after an off-season of training) so, in the end I am going to pass on this. Like the Kudla/Tipsy match, I do see an over though. Opelka should get this to a tiebreak or two. What is concerning is the fact that it is the highest total on board at 40.5. There will have to be a splitting of sets and that worries me if Opelka drops whatever tiebreaks they get into.
I’m a big Munar fan but, he hasn’t had much success on hard courts yet. He’s nails in a tiebreak and his hard court numbers are on the up-swing. I like him as a dog but, the concern is that Koepfer is a bit hot. He’s travelled a bunch, from California to Vancouver, British Columbia, to New York however he’s doing a whole lot of winning. He made the final in Aptos, the third round in Vancouver and he swept through qualies last week only dropping one set. My suggestion is Munar plus games over the over. Pass.
I’m a sucker for Berdych. I wish to fuck he’d have had more success at the bigger moments in his career. Want to know something fun though? Berdych has covered -5.5 in every first round hard court Slam match he has played since 2010. I have said this more times than I care to count, Berdych usually beats who he is supposed to beat. I have zero idea how Brooksby qualified. I don’t think he should have won either of his last two matches. I’m on Berdych to crush this kid.
It impresses me that Fucs is a dog here. He is 5-2 against Basilashvili in his career and is a more accomplished hard court player. Neither player has had much US Open success other than Basil’s 4th rd run here last year and their hard court stats are actually pretty similar the last two years. I don’t see an edge here and suspect this clears the total of 38.5. I have a terrible record with over/under’s this year though , so pass.
Lopez has never been a hard court star, at least not on slower hard courts. His combined hold/break numbers have dwindled from 100 to 97 to 95 to a current 93. He pulled out of Winston-Salem with fatigue and he only has four main draw hard court wins in 2019 - clay courters Dusan Lajovic and Pablo Andujar, an injured Berdych and an indifferent Benoit Paire. Fritz is coming in off back-to-back losses but, they were on the heels of back-to-back finals and Goffin and Hurkacz are nothing to be ashamed of. This line opened as low as -350 at some books but, once it made it to a wider audience it was sitting at -500. I believe Fritz wins but, I expect a tiebreak or two and I’ll just pass on this one.
Nishioka is a guy I don’t usually have a good read on. He has a decent, if small, history at the US Open and he had a decent run in Cincy. He’s a better than 0.500 player on hard courts and he is solid in tiebreaks. Giron is a classic quad A player, doing well in Challengers and qualifying but, losing in main draws. I’ll look to pair Nishioka with someone, as I am sure he’ll drop a set here to make me nervous.
Kwon should roll Dellien, as Dellien is a classic clay court specialist. But, this line is crazy high. Like the Lorenzi match, I’m pretty sure who the winner will be but, don’t see any value.
Medvedev should roll here. -9.5 is a crazy high line though. This will be something I watch early and see if Meds is in a groove. I’ve written about Meds a lot; when he is on hard courts, and he gets rolling, especially on outdoor courts, he stays uber hot. If he breaks Gunneswaran early, this could get ugly. If Meds wins a set 62 (or 63 with a double break) then you should hit Meds handicap in the following set. Pass on the pre-match line though because if he starts slow and/never gets rolling rolling then it could be tight all the way.
I’ve been betting against Fed live, in-play in Slams for a year now but, this particular match may be a bit different. Nagal really doesn’t have much business being here. Prior to these qualies he had only ever played one main draw ATP hard court match (which he lost) and in 2019 he only had two hard courts wins in total (both at the Challenger level). Fed is definitely on cruise control in these kinds of matches and I’m not sure he blows Nagal out but, he is interestingly a full game cheaper than Djokovic. I’m just going to pass.
Dzumhur has really been struggling. He is dropping sets to almost everyone. The only match Dzumhur has won in straights in the last five weeks has been over the 1530th ranked player in a Challenger match. Benchetrit got through qualifying nicely and he should be good to keep it close if not steal a set. This is a pure Dzumhur fade.
Pella has been showing well lately, especially in big matches. But, PCB is better than the Argentine in every hard court stat I care about. he may have folded to Paire but, a Paire who cares can be a tough out. PCB has had decent success at this venue and I suspect him to be rested and ready to roll after the disaster that was Winston-Salem’s schedule.
I’m out of time. Again. 32 matches is a ton to write about.
Querrey -5.5, -138
Hurkacz ml/DeMinaur ml, -125
Kecmanovic 3-0, +110
Berdych -5.5, -120
Nishioka ml/Coric ml/Norrie ml, +106
PCB ml, -125
Benchetrit +4.5, -125