Friday's two matches at the ATP World Tour Finals witness the end of the group stages, with the Pete Sampras group concluding prior to tomorrow's semi-finals. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out the two matches on the card...
"My model made Dimitrov short, pricing him more conservatively at [1.38], and with this in mind, Carreno-Busta looks solid value at [4.80]. While obviously the Bulgarian should be a heavy favourite, it looks another clear case of the market over-valuing a dominant winner in their previous match."
Deciding sets a recurring theme in London
Yesterday's action at the O2 Arena provided two more three-set matches, bringing the total this year to eight deciding sets from ten matches, an incredible statistic and one that continues the trend of this event - since the move to London in 2009 - having considerably more deciding sets played than in standard ATP tournaments.
In the first match on Thursday in the Boris Becker group, Roger Federer continued Marin Cilic's woeful tournament with a 6-1 final set demolition, after recovering from a set down, while our selection, Jack Sock, triumphed in the shootout for the runners-up semi-final spot as underdog against Alexander Zverev.
Definitely joining them will be Grigor Dimitrov, who has won both of his matches so far, while Dominic Thiem and David Goffin meet in the first match today, at 1400 UK time, to see who will join Dimitrov in qualifying from the Pete Sampras group.
Thiem marginal market favourite to qualify against Goffin
In this first match on the schedule, it is Thiem who has the marginal edge in the market, currently available at [1.91] on the Exchange, with Goffin the slight underdog at [2.08]. My model actually made the Belgian, Goffin, a narrow favourite, although it didn't take into account any injury doubts from the drubbing from Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday - just the negative impact that the 6-0 6-2 defeat had on his stats.
With this in mind, I'm not overly keen to get involved with recommending much from a pre-match basis, with Goffin's fitness extremely questionable, while I couldn't dream of backing Thiem in these post US-Open matches, a point which I've made numerous times previously.
Therefore I'll immediately move on to the evening match, played at 2000 UK time, which is effectively a dead rubber from a group progression perspective.
Carreno-Busta with clear incentives to perform in final group match
In this, Grigor Dimitrov is the heavy [1.25] favourite to get the better of Pablo Carreno-Busta, who joined the event as an alternate following Rafa Nadal's withdrawal. For the Spaniard to qualify, he needed to beat Thiem to have a chance, and gave a good account of himself prior to losing the final three games to lose 6-4 in the final set.
However, with a round-robin victory giving 200 ranking points, as well as $191,000, Carreno-Busta will clearly be motivated to end his season on a high - there should be no tanking here.
Handicap options worth considering to oppose Dimitrov
My model made Dimitrov short, pricing him more conservatively at [1.38], and with this in mind, Carreno-Busta looks solid value at [4.80]. While obviously the Bulgarian should be a heavy favourite, it looks another clear case of the market over-valuing a dominant winner in their previous match.
Considering this, and the historical trend of matches at the O2 going three sets - favourites have a mediocre record for winning in straight sets, but a better one of covering the game handicap - backing the Spaniard to win a set, or laying Dimitrov 2-0 looks the best strategy.
The Exchange market is still forming, with a back price of Dimitrov 2-0 at [1.71] and lay at [1.79], but we can look to offer to lay Dimitrov 2-0 at prices sub-1.75 - with around 10 hours to go before the match, this should have a solid chance of being filled.
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