Kentucky Derby weekend provided both great weather and great entertainment. I did not get to repeat last years trip to the Derby but, learned a lot about horse racing and lost a bunch of money. That combination left little time for writing; good thing tennis went 6-1. And that one loss was the fucking hook. Feels nice to have some solid reads though.
Hopefully this run is a sign that the slump of March-April is over. Inching back to profitability here.
I have two futures this week, it’s been a month since I hit one, stuck on eight (which is still incredible, though). The outright article is up at BangtheBook.com, give it a read. The BallyBoyztennis podcast is up too, find it on Twitter or at Soundcloud/iTunes/Anchor/etc. Give it a listen - last week we did a bit of a deep dive on how to actually handicap a match, this week we got way off the rails as I handicapped and live bet the Kyrgios/Struff match on the air. Helpful to no-one’s immediate bankroll, obviously, but, still instructive I think.
I’m leaning pretty heavy to Dimitrov here and I can’t figure out if I just have a bias to him or not. Dimitrov always presents well. He just has sexy hold/break stats; over the combined 100% mark each of the last three years and over the “above average” mark of 105% this year, which I am always looking for. That’s better than or at least the same as Fritz every year. He also wins on clay a fair amount of the time - 58.9% for his career. It’s not his best surface but, that is still a laudable number. He went 7-5 last year on the surface and in a faster clay venue like Madrid, where there is bound to be some tiebreaks, Grigor should fair well, considering he has a 55% winning percentage in tiebreaks. I paid a lot of attention to qualies this weekend and it was serve oriented. There were seven matches on Saturday where one of the participants had a hold percentage on clay of over 80%. We’ll throw out the Paire/Ruud match because they both are rocking over 80%. Of the six remaining matches, guys with a hold percentage of 80% went 5-1 straight up (five of them were pretty heavy favorites but, the +200 dog did win). On Sunday they were all obviously playing each other in round two so the win/loss is less relevant BUT, know this, the four matches involving at least one player with an 80+ hold percentage all sailed over the posted total. Anyway, all this to say, I like Dimitrov and the over here. Fritz will now be playing for the FIFTH straight week and seventh in the last eight. Shockingly in this sojourn across North American and Europe he’s only won two completed matches. Grigor’s not in a whole lot better shape but, losses to Jarry and Nadal on clay aren’t the end of the world. I’m in twice on this match.
I’m staying far away from ay Cilic action. He has totally lost the plot and while he is decent on clay (better than people think, 61.5% career winning percentage) you can’t back a guy who has lost this many matches in a row. I do love to back Klizan and he has come through qualifying, so he is acclimatized to the region, and he didn’t drop a set in doing so. But, the head-to-head is not pleasant. H2H doesn’t always mean much but, I do pay attention when it is one-way traffic because well, sometimes, you just own a guy, or a team, or a matchup. Anyway, these guys have played three times, none recent and none on clay, but Cilic won all three matches and won them handily. I’ll pass.
Two clay specialists with stats that are almost inter-changeable on the surface means probably an avoid for me. Lajovic went to the final in Monte Carlo and then lost a tight one in Estoril while Djere made the semi’s in Budapest, so both are in at least decent form. Their hold/break stats in 2019 are identical and they flip-flopped a small advantage in 2018 and 2017. As mentioned clay is both their best surface and really I don’t see an edge here. If you had to bet it I’d be on Djere as I don’t see Lajovic being a -175 favorite. I made this basically a pick’em.
Gasquet’s back! Gasquet is just outside the elite level on clay - over 60% winning percentage, combined hold/break stats above 110% consistently, he’s been to Madrid nine times over the course of his career so he gets the venue and if nothing else, he’s fresh. It’s probably unwise to back a guy in first match back from an extended injury absence but, ADF has now played tennis in six of the last eight weeks, this will make seven in the last nine, and he cramped up bad on Saturday in the semis against Cuevas. He dropped the last two sets 26,26 after winning the first and had a banged up knee, pulled hammy, and stomach cramps. I get that he is young but, less than 48 hours later he’s going from seaside to 2,000+ feet and getting back on the clay to play a savvy vet who loves the surface (nine clay finals in his career)? I’ll take the plus money on the Frenchman.
Look, I’m fading almost everyone who is coming to 2,000+ feet of altitude on four or five straight weeks of tennis and travel. Andreas Seppi has lost six straight matches and is 2-5 against Monfils and in one of those wins Gael was obviously hurt and retired after getting breadsticked in the first set. Monfils is solid on clay, looked decent in his first action back from injury last week in Estoril and has been to Madrid ten times, so he knows what’s up. Once Estoril hold/break stats are updated into my database 2019 will look prettier for Monfils and there will be no category where Seppi outshines him. I’m in on another Frenchman.
Opelka’s serve put him in good standing throughout qualies. Here’s why I am staying away: PCB is going to round back into form at some point, he breaks serve around 30% of the time on clay when healthy and in form, and he will be playing in front of a partisan crowd. I would have taken a stab at the over had it been lined at 22.5 (there will be a bunch of those this week I think) but, the books are already wise and it was lined at 23.5, killing the 76,64 dream. This is an easy pass for me.
Radu Albot is a career 40% winner on clay. His combined hold/break stats are consistently in the mid 90’s, a perfectly average tour player. He has also lost to Verdasco both times they have played, never winning a set, and being blasted when they met on clay. Verdasco hasn’t looked great on clay this year, gong 1-3 with a loss to Menendez mixed in there. But, he’s much better on clay, historically, than Albot and Madrid is literally his home town. I’ll parlay Verdasco’s moneyline and expect a bounceback performance here.
Just like the Cilic match, I’m not getting involved in a match where a “star” player has dropped, like, four or five matches in a row. I have no idea what is going with Khachanov and I don’t want to get involved til we see some more consistent play. He hasn’t won a set since losing an ultra tight match to Rafa in Indian Wells and that is concerning. Pocket Kings is also coming into Madrid on his fourth straight week of tennis. So, all signs point to a Munar win here and it is lined as such. Clay is Munar’s best surface and his 2019 combined hold/break numbers show he is quickly moving into bettable territory on tour. I’m going to avoid this match just because it feels like Khachanov has got to “get right” soon. Notably, Khachanov has never won a match here in Madrid so, I can’t fault anyone for taking a cheap price on Munar.
Tiafoe match. Hope he wins. Won’t be on it.
Kukushkin is a straight fade for me. Fourth straight week playing, climbing a mountain from Estoril, wins less than 40% of the time on clay, losing record in tiebreaks, and Kohl has better combined hold/break numbers in every year I have on record. Kohl all the way here for me.
Dimitrov/Monflls ml, -108
Dimitrov/Fritz o22.5, -110
Gasquet ml, +110
Verdasco/Kohl ml, +109