We have first round action from the Cincinnati Masters and Dan Weston thinks Jordan Thompson is the pick of the bunch on Monday...
"This year on hard court, the two players are almost identical when looking at main tour combined serve/return points won percentages, while 12 month data - also including Challenger and qualifying matches adjusted for opponent quality - gives Thompson a slight edge."
Murray returns to main tour action against Gasquet
There's 13 men's singles matches on the card today in Ohio with a number of talking points to discuss as the tournament begins in earnest - the event actually got underway last night with two matches on a low-profile opening day.
Probably the first point to address is the return to singles action of Andy Murray. After some court time in doubles recently, the Scotsman plays his first singles match since January as he takes on Richard Gasquet. The duo have met numerous times in previous years, although they've not done so for over three years, and in truth, it's impossible to quantify Murray's likely level here - my perception is that we will need at least three, and possibly more, singles matches to have a chance of assessing his future potential from a numerical perspective.
Kyrgios' level difficult to assess
Nick Kyrgios' loss to Kyle Edmund last week in Montreal was forgiveable when considering his exertions the previous week in winning Washington, and he's back in action today as he faces Lorenzo Sonego.
The Australian's level is incredibly difficult to assess as well. He has a high peak level, as evidenced by several of those performances in the American capital, but also against elite level opposition in recent years, but frequently struggles to hit those heights.
This is evidenced by his mediocre service/return points won percentage on hard court this season (99%) and it's worth noting that his success this season on the surface has been largely driven by a strong tiebreak record and overperformance on break points - he's certainly hitting that big-server profile these days and rarely wins matches easily, and it wouldn't be a shock if Sonego pushed him here - although I'll point out that the Italian didn't travel to Canada last week and hasn't played on hard court since March.
Thompson capable of victory over Nishioka
In addition, a different player is worth examining in an attempt to exploit pre-match value today, with Jordan Thompson looking a decent shout at [2.34] for his match with Yoshihito Nishioka.
This year on hard court, the two players are almost identical when looking at main tour combined serve/return points won percentages, while 12 month data - also including Challenger and qualifying matches adjusted for opponent quality - gives Thompson a slight edge. With this in mind, taking Thompson at an underdog price looks something to consider for today's recommendation.
Several serve-orientated clashes likely
I'm also anticipating several very serve-orientated clashes in what are likely to be quick hard court conditions. The aforementioned Kyrgios v Sonego match-up is one, while my model had even higher percentages for a first set tiebreak in two other matches - Ivo Karlovic v Jan-Lennard Struff, and Reilly Opelka v Borna Coric.
In the latter meeting, I'm not convinced Coric is fully fit, something which is certainly factored into Opelka's price of [1.82]. The 7/4 with the Sportsbook on over 12.5 games in the first set will likely tempt some if we assume Coric is in remotely decent physical shape.
This eventuality was priced up at 11/10 for the Karlovic v Struff match, and this looked excellent value. I have no breaks in the first set as a 56% chance (implied odds of [1.78]) so odds against for a first set tiebreak looked one to take, but sadly this has been cut to 10/11.
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Back Jordan Thompson at [2.34] to beat Yoshihito Nishioka