Welcome to my first daily write up. In the hopes of being more like my good friend @BigTenWatto and to get my process down on paper I’ve decided to start doing a daily piece where I handicap every match that day. We’ll see how this goes, but I’m excited and optimistic. So without further ado let’s break down the 21 (21!) matches on the first day of main draw play in Indian Wells. Here’s my cheat sheet that shows each players results from 2018 on hard courts. I’ll use these as a power ranking as I handicap each match.
All of these lines come from a local book that I use. I will say this often, BE SURE TO CHECK THE PRICES AT ALL THE BOOKS YOU CAN ACCESS. One of the easiest ways to be a better bettor is get the best prices. I’m sure anything I post in here is offered at a better number somewhere, so be smart and check all your outs before placing your wager. The first number after each player’s name is there US odds with decimal odds in parenthesis. I’ll list total games for every match and spreads for matches with a spread greater than 2.5 games. Anything less than that and just take the moneyline, no need to risk a bagel or breadstick ruining your favorite spread.
DAY 2 - Kristina Mladenovic -110 (1,91) vs Saisai Zheng -120 (1,83) Total Games 21
I’m surprised to see this match lined so closely. Mladenovic did beat Naomi Osaka earlier this year, but it’s hard to get excited about that win when you consider the situation. This was Osaka’s first match without Sascha Bajin at her side and her first match after a long layoff after the Australian Open. Take a look at the table above and you’ll see a better picture of who Mladenovic is. 14-19 on hard courts averaging -1.28 games is pretty rough. Saisai Zheng doesn’t play the best competiton, facing an average rank of 139, but she does beat them soundly with a 19-7 record averaging +2.96 games. No head to head history here. I’m going to happily line up and get a ticket for Zheng here. I think she is the better player and is in better form. Full unit on Zheng.
DAY 2 - Kirsten Flipkens +175 (2,75) vs Genie Bouchard -215 (1,46) Total Games 20.5 Spread +/- 4 games
This match looks properly priced to me. Bouchard is the better player and is in better form. Genie -4 games is ok, but I’ll pass. Genie -215 is likely to make its way into a parlay though.
DAY 2 - Alison Riske -150 (1,67) vs Alison Van Uytvanck +120 (2,20) Total Games 21 Spread -/+ 2.5 games
This is a funny line, but ultimately I think it’s correct. If you look at the table above AVU looks to be better on hard courts, but let’s parse that a little bit. AVU likes to play indoor hard courts that tend to be much faster and play to her strength as a big server. The courts at Indian Wells are outdoors and notoriously slow which will neutralize he big serve to some extent. I’m still surprised Riske is such a big favorite, but I can’t find any value here. I’m looking very hard at over 21 games. Matches tend to go longer at Indian Wells and both women average over 22 games per match on hards. Actually, I’m in, full unit on over 21 games.
DAY 2 - Rebecca Peterson +140 (2,40) vs Ekaterina Alexandrova -170 (1.59) Total Games 20.5 Spread +/- 3 games
Pass all around here. The line looks right. Alexandrova is the better player overall, but she’s possibly carrying a knee injury and these slows courts do not fit her style. Pass.
DAY 2 - Madison Brengle +100 (2,00) vs Samantha Stosur -130 (1,76) Total Games 21
Another easy match to pass on entirely. Don’t even watch this. Sam Stosur is 3-0 head to head, but I’m serious, just leave this alone. All 3 matches were years ago and both were much different players. PASS.
DAY 2 - Monica Puig -265 (1,37) vs Evgeniya Rodina +215 (3,15) Total Games 20 Spread -/+ 4.5 games
It’s hard to think the Monica Puig we’ve seen this year should such a big favorite over any professional tennis player with functioning limbs, but I have absolutely no interest in Rodina either. Puig had a good Fed cup, but hasn’t advanced past the 2nd round in any tournament this year. Rodina is 2-6 so far this season. Puig is the better player in general, so she should be the favorite, but I’d be grabbing the underdog here if it were not Rodina. Pass.
DAY 2 - Venus Williams -190 (1,52) vs Andrea Petkovic +150 (2,50) Total Games 20.5 Spread -/+ 3.5 games
Venus should win this comfortably. She’s played well here the last 2 years making the QF in 2017 and the SF in 2018. Petkovic is too inconsistent and any head to head is too old to consider. I wish Venus were -3, but alas, let’s put her moneyline in a parlay.
DAY 2 - Johanna Larsson +270 (3,70) vs Kaia Kanepi -350 (1,28) Total Games 19 Spread +/- 5 games
Kanepi is better and she’ll win, but I never parlay -350 (1,28) and 5 games seems just about right for the spread. No value to be had, pass.
DAY 2 - Alja Tomljanovic -110 (1,91) vs Alize Cornet -120 (1,83) Total Games 21
This has me flabbergasted. Take a look at the table above and you can see Alja was much better on hard courts last year. Only 1 match in the head to head, but it was played in 2013. Alja has a had nice start to the year and Cornet hasn’t done anything impressive. The slower courts should suit Cornet, but I don’t think that outweighs all the other factors. Full unit on Alja.
DAY 2 - Yulia Putintseva -140 (1,71) vs Babos +110 (2,10) Total Games 20.5
There is likely some value on Babos as she’s generally has better performances on hard courts, but I’m going to pass. It’s not a lot of value and Babos hasn’t been good this season. Pass.
Petra Martic -215 (1,47) vs Magda Linette +175 (2,75) Total Games 20.5 Spread -/+ 4 games
I love betting against Linette and I’m happy to do it here. Martic is the must better player so let’s parlay her moneyline and even put half a unit on her -4 games.
Johanna Konta -460 (1,21) vs Pauline Parmentier +360 (4,60) Total Game 19 Spread -5/+5 games
Konta should roll here. Konta has won the last 3 head to head matches and she won convincingly. Take aloo above, Konta is good, Parmentier is bad. -460 is too expensive for really anyone in my opinion, but let’s grab -5 games for half a unit.
Anna Schmiedlova +100 (2,00) vs Lauren Davis -130 (1,77) Total Games 21
This could be an interesting match. Davis is better by the numbers, but on in a meaningful way. Davis is a wild card playing in her home country. I don’t see anything actionable here, pass.
Vera Lapko +425 (5,25) vs Victoria Azarenka -575 (1,18) Total Games 19 Spread +/- 5.5 games
Poor Vera Lapko, once an exciting young talent she has fallen flat this year. Azarenka has played some great tennis this year and is one of the best players in the WTA by my ratings. I don’t mind under 19 games or -5.5 games, but these are all too expensive for my taste, pass.
Aleksandra Krunic +245 (3,45) vs Amanda Anisimova -295 (1,34) Total Games 20 Spread +/-4.5 games
Boy I wish the spread were 4 games. Pocket Aces (aka AA aka Amanda Anisimova) should crush Krunic. Anisimova retired in her last match, but I think that was a stomach bug and I’m not concerned. Anisimova is an exciting young player, already has much better numbers than Krunic and is only getting better. I might parlay -295 and I’m going to put half a unit on under 20 games.
Bianca Andreescu -320 (1,31) vs Irina Begu +250 (3,50) Total Games 20 Spread -/+ 4.5 games
Andreescu is an exciting new name in the WTA. She’s made the final in Auckland and the SF in Acapulco last week. She’s already much better than Begu and well deserving the price you see here. All these numbers look right to me. I don’t hate -4.5 games or under 20 games, but I’m going to pass here.
Yafan Wang +130 (2,30) vs Sofia Kenin -160 (1,63) Total Games 21 Spread +/- 3.5 games
What an awesome match this should be! Way to go tournament organizers of Indian Wells! These 2 ladies played each other just days ago in the final in Acapulco. Wang won her maiden WTA title, but Kenin is actually a bigger favorite than she was in Mexico. This should be great. Watch this match, but don’t bet on it. Pass.
Daria Gavrilova +240 (3,40) vs Dayan Yastremska -300 (1,33) Total Games 20.5 Spread +/- 4.5 games
This looks about right. The table above might push you slightly in the direction of Gavrilova, especially on slower courts, but she’s had a bad start to the year. Yastremksa should move on without much trouble, but I’m staying away from this match. Pass.
Tatjana Maria -170 (1,59) vs Magdalena Rybarikova +140 (2,40) Total Games 21
PASS. HARD PASS. I’d actually vote we just cancel this match and bring in 2 lucky losers.
Marketa Vondrousova -270 (1,37) vs Laura Siegemund +220 (3,20) Total Games 20 Spread -/+ 4.5 games
I love Vondrousova here. My favorite German tennis handicapper @MatterTipsTennis tells me that Siegemund could give her some trouble here. I think he’s being silly and just supporting his fellow countrywoman. I’m not going to lay the -4.5 games with the spread, but let’s parlay the Vondrousova moneyline.
Shuai Zhang -140 (1,71) vs Viktoria Kuzmova +110 (2,10) Total Games 21
This is a match where I’m going to go against the numbers. Zhang had a better year last year on hard courts, but I like Kuzmova a lot in this spot. Zhang’s game is solid, but she tends to lose to bigger hitters like Kuzmova. Zhang is also not left handed which can be an issue for Kuzmova. I’m putting a full unit on Kuzmova +110.
Katerina Siniakova -210 (1,48) vs Kateryna Kozlova +170 (2,70) Spread -/+3.5 games
Siniakova is one of the toughest players to handicap in my opinion. She is one of the very best doubles players but has yet to reach her potential as a singles player. She is, however, properly priced as the favorite with a 67.6% implied probability of victory. Siniakova hasn’t played since getting bounced early in Dubai and Kozlova has had 2 qualifying matches to get accustomed to her surroundings. I’ll pass on this match, but I wouldn’t mind if you used SIniakova in a parlay.
Stefanie Voegele -155 (1,65) vs Sascha Vickery +120 (2,20)
Well this is puzzling. Look at the table above and it appears Vickery is the much better player on hard courts with a 13-7 record averaging +2.5 games against a competition with a rank of 92 versus Voegele’s 6-11 record averaging -1.7 games against average rank of 108. Only 1 match in their head to head, it was in Indian Wells, but all the way back in 2013 making it irrelevant for our purposes. Vickery even played in the Indian Wells challenger event last week, so no concerns about a new setting either. Maybe she’s hurt? I honestly have no idea what’s going on her but give me a full unit on Vickery please. It might be a prudent choice to place this at a book that voids on retirement. I don’t believe in trap lines, but this one does smell funny.
Bernarda Pera +135 (2,35) vs Caty McNally -170 (1,59)
Unfortunately, I have almost no data on Ms. McNally. In fact, until she played in the Indian Wells challenger event last week I had never heard her name. She won 2 matches last week and gritted through 2, tough 3 setters in qualifying. I have little nice things to say about Pera other than she is left handed and that can be an issue for some players. Maybe that’s something? I have no idea, pass.
Barbora Strycova -155 (1,65) vs Viktorija Golubic +120 (2,20)
This looks like a cheap price on a solid tour veteran against someone who’s not had a lot of success at the WTA level past qualifying. The did play once, in the Fed Cup in 2016 and Golubic won in 3 sets on hard courts. That’s not entirely irrelevant, because Strycova does take the Fed Cup seriously. Similar to Siniakova/Kozlova, we haven’t seen Strycova since getting bounced early in Dubai and Golubic not only qualified, but won the challenger event last week here in Indian Wells. I think Strycova is better and will this match, but I wish she had played last week, so I will pass. If this doesn’t concern you, this is the piece to add to Siniakova in the “Form? We don’t need no stinking form!” parlay. To be clear, I do not advise this.
Nao Hibino +220 (3,20) vs Jennifer Brady -300 (1,33) Spread +/-4.5 games
Don’t look at the table above this time. Really, I mean it. Wait, you already looked? Ok, well, I guess I have some explaining to do then. As you may have noticed the numbers above do not in any way indicate that Brady should be such a big favorite. Tennis is a rapidly evolving world where new talents push themselves up through the rankings regularly. Brady qualified for Hua Hin and then beat Caroline Garcia in the first round. She qualified for Dubai again beating Caroline Garcia, but this time in the second round and made the final in last week’s Indian Wells challenger event. I think Jennifer Brady is a player we’re going to see more and more of throughout the year. -300 and -4.5 games are still a little overpriced, so I’m going to pass, but remember to forego most historical data when handicapping Brady this year.
DAY 2 - Full unit Saisai Zheng -120 (1,83)
DAY 2 - Full unit Riske/Van Uytvanck over 21 games
DAY 2 - Full unit Tomljanovic -110 (1,91)
Half unit Martic -4 games
Half unit Konta -5 games
Full unit Kuzmova +110 (2,10)
DAY 2 - Full unit parlay Venus/Bouchard +125 (2,25)
Full unit parlay Martic/Anisimova/Vondrousova +165 (2,65)
Full unit Vickery +120 (2,20)