Wednesday sees day four at the ATP World Tour Finals, and with there being another two very competitive matches yesterday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...
"From 2015 onwards in post US Open matches - Thiem was ranked inside the top 20 every year - he has won just 13 of 32 main tour matches (40.6%) of his matches, in what is almost certainly due to his atrocious scheduling earlier in the season which creates accumulated fatigue."
Deciding set wins for Federer and Sock in Tuesday's action
In the Boris Becker group yesterday at the O2 Arena there were three-set wins for both Roger Federer, who routed Alexander Zverev eventually in a deciding set, and our selection, the underdog Jack Sock, who scraped past Marin Cilic in a final set tie-break. Sock and Zverev's match on Thursday is now effectively a shoot-out to see who qualifies alongside Federer.
We will have a clearer idea later regarding who is likely to qualify from the Pete Sampras group, with Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin opening their campaigns with victories, while Dominic Thiem and the withdrawn Rafa Nadal losing their openers. Pablo Carreno-Busta, as first alternate, replaces Nadal in the group.
Dimitrov and Goffin looking for second victory this afternoon
In the afternoon match today, at 1400 UK time, the two opening round winners, Dimitrov and Goffin, face off with the victor in an excellent position to top the group, which has considerable benefit given that they will not face Federer in the semi-finals.
At the time of writing, Dimitrov is a solid [1.60] favourite to be that man, with Goffin less fancied as a [2.64] underdog. These prices look about right to me, with Dimitrov going into the match with a 4-1 head to head lead - although Goffin did take their last meeting, also indoors - and analysis of the surface statistics for the duo also show Dimitrov to have the edge.
Dimitrov with the statistical edge
Across hard and indoor hard this year, Dimitrov has held serve 87.5% of the time, breaking opponents 22.3% (combined 109.8%), numbers which show how much the Bulgarian has improved in 2017. Goffin's combined numbers are a little worse, holding 81.2% and breaking 26.6% (combined 107.8%).
Solely indoors, there is also a similar discrepancy. Dimitrov has held 90.5% and broken 22.0% (an impressive 112.5% combined) while Goffin's numbers, at 79.7% and 29.2% respectively (108.9% combined) are slightly inferior.
All told, it's tough to consider that there's much of an angle for this match, so we move on to the second match of the day - the evening match at 2000 UK time - between Nadal's replacement, Pablo Carreno-Busta, who faces the Austrian, Dominic Thiem.
Thiem's scheduling deficiencies reflected in his late-season stats
My disdain for Thiem's scheduling has been made clear in previous weeks, and for those who have missed my thoughts on this matter, I'll highlight some statistics for you.
From 2015 onwards in post US Open matches - those in September, October and November each year - with Thiem ranked inside the top 20 throughout, he has won just 13 of 32 main tour matches (40.6%) of his matches, in what is almost certainly due to his atrocious scheduling earlier in the season which creates accumulated fatigue.
Compare this to his overall record from 2015 onwards - across all main tour matches, he's won 138 of 214 (64.5%), and removing those post US Open matches, he's won 125 of 182 (68.7%).
So, in pre-US Open matches since 2015, Thiem has won 68.7% of his matches, but post US Open he wins just 40.6% - an incredible difference - and again, he comes into this match in woeful form, winning just two of the eight matches he's competed in post US Open, in which he was favourite in seven.
Despite this, the market have seen fit to price Thiem at a current [1.36], which is utterly absurd given these tendencies - plus the fact that his record indoors is mediocre at best - and even though opponent Carreno-Busta hasn't played his best in recent weeks, we have to take on Thiem at prices.
Carreno-Busta at [3.70] is the bet.
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