Kyrgios a solid favourite to progress
Matches in Cincinnati get underway at 1600 UK time, with some fascinating matches in prospect as the tournament gets closer to the entry of the big names tomorrow. Nick Kyrgios will take his fair share of headlines, and faces another volatile opponent, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Kyrgios is 1.201/5 to continue his path towards a rematch with top seed Daniil Medvedev, who he defeated last week in Montreal.
Kyrgios is a number of players priced around the 1.251/4 mark on today's schedule, with only Alex De Minaur being a markedly shorter-priced favourite for his match against the Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen. While it's pretty difficult to dispute Jannik Sinner's price against Thanasi Kokkinakis, I'm sceptical about how easy it will be for Taylor Fritz against Sebastian Baez.
Baez needing to serve well to test Fritz
It's pretty difficult to dispute the current market pricing here but that assertion is based on a small sample of main tour matches on hard court this year for Baez, and I do feel that the Argentine is capable of improvement on hard courts. He'll need to do so on serve in particular, but if Baez can get to the stage where he's at least holding serve relatively consistently, it would help him pick up a number of wins away from his preferred clay courts - on which he'd be favourite against Fritz.
Tough to assess Shelton's level ahead of Sonego clash
Fritz's countryman Ben Shelton has picked up a wildcard for this event, still waiting to improve his ranking by breaking into the top 250. At the start of the year, Shelton was ranked around the 600 mark, and he's picked up some good wins albeit mostly against pretty limited opposition.
In Shelton's first main tour event, he tested John Isner, breaking his big-serving countryman in the second set for a 6-4 set win, before Isner did what he does well and won the other two sets via tiebreaks. Subsequently though, he beat fairly limited opposition (again) before losing in the Chicago Challenger final last week.
So, Shelton's win-loss record this year has been very good, but he's not really played anyone particularly decent even at Challenger level. Today he faces Lorenzo Sonego, and with the exception of Isner, the Italian is a considerable upgrade on the players Shelton has generally faced at those lower levels.
After a mediocre run of results, mostly on grass and clay, Sonego needed to qualify here, which he did in straight sets against John Millman and Bradley Klahn, In the last 12 months, Sonego has a losing record on hard court on the main tour, but is running at over 100% combined service/return points won on the surface suggesting that he's better than his record suggests. I'm surprised you can get as big as 1.645/8 about Sonego here.
Brooksby with the data edge over Paul
The other match worth discussing is the all-American clash between Tommy Paul and Jenson Brooksby, which the market is finding it difficult to split. Paul is the very marginal 1.875/6 favourite, and I'm not entirely sure about this.
Paul has won just over 2% more service points on hard court this year, while Brooksby has a 3.5% edge on return, and has won a higher percentage of points competed. Furthermore, I do feel that Brooksby, at 21, has higher upside than Paul at 25, and has looked to be getting back on the winning track having reached the final in Atlanta several weeks ago after very tricky clay and grass seasons, where he would have less expectations of success.
Back Jenson Brooksby at 2.1211/10