Main focus on the ATP Tour today is the final of ATP Toronto, between the pre-tournament favourite, Daniil Medvedev, and Reilly Opelka. Dan Weston previews the championship match...
"The issue facing Opelka, compared to his semi-final versus Tsitsipas, is that Medvedev is simply a better returner than Tsitsipas."
Opelka defeats Tsitsipas in high-variance encounter
In yesterday's preview, I made the point that both of the pre-match favourites for the semi-finals, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, needed to try and avoid being drawn into high-variance encounters against big-serving opposition, which mainly boiled down to tiebreaks.
Pre-tournament favourite Medvedev managed that, easily getting the better of John Isner in straight sets, but Tsitsipas did get involved in that high-variance encounter against Isner's big-serving countryman, Reilly Opelka.
Despite winning the opening set via a tiebreak, Tsitsipas succumbed in three sets with Opelka nicking the second set via the same method. The American then converted a solitary break point midway through the final set to earn the only break of serve in the entire match. The story of that semi-final gives some clear insight into Opelka's potential avenue to victory tonight against Medvedev.
Medvedev offering more threat on return than Tsitsipas
The issue facing Opelka, compared to his semi-final versus Tsitsipas, is that Medvedev is simply a better returner than Tsitsipas. On hard court in the last 12 months, he breaks opposition around 6% more than the Greek man (around 31% compared to 25%), which should mean that he will put markedly more pressure on the Opelka serve than Tsitsipas managed yesterday - he created just one break point chance in three sets.
If Medvedev can do this, he can avoid that high-variance encounter which has helped Opelka get to this stage - he's won five of six tiebreaks this week. Such a dynamic helps players like him, or Isner, get to the occasional latter stages of big events but also means they're much more likely to get beaten in an early round as well.
Tiebreaks possible but not hugely likely
This is why I agree with the market line of 1.222/9 on Medvedev - my model gave me a similar line - and while tiebreaks are certainly very possible, I don't see them as a given. Six holds apiece will generate considerably the greatest likelihood of tiebreaks, as opposed to multiple breaks, but still that's not a huge chance given Medvedev's ability to create pressure on return.
Unfortunately, the Sportsbook has also worked this out, pricing up the under 12.5 games in the first set at 2/5, which is a fair bit shorter than I hoped.
There's definitely no value, in my view, on the overs at 7/4, but if we could have got something like 4/7 on the unders I'd have been happier with recommending that.
Summarising, it would be a real shock if Opelka won and it didn't involve tiebreaks. Medvedev easing to victory, as he did against Isner, is much more possible, and the most likely scenario today in this final - as evidenced by the match winner pricing and the lack of confidence in tiebreaks from the market as well.
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