Day five at the Shanghai Masters sees eight third-round matches take place, with the winners moving to Friday's quarter-finals. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out Thursday's schedule...
"In the last 12 months on hard court, Zverev has held serve 85.8% compared to Del Potro's 83.5%, and broken opponents 22.1% compared to 19.7%, so the German youngster both has better stats on the surface, and a bigger scope for improvement."
Numerous tiebreaks decide matches on Wednesday
There were a mixture of dominant and straightforward wins in Wednesday's eleven matches in the Shanghai Masters, with Rafa Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Steve Johnson progressing with the minimum of fuss.
However, Victor Troicki and Grigor Dimitrov needed final set tiebreaks to see if Dominic Thiem and Ryan Harrison respectively - Troicki as a fairly big underdog - while there were also two double tiebreak wins for Jan-Lennard Struff (who beat Kevin Anderson) and John Isner, who predictably played tiebreaks against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who gave a decent account of himself against the American big-server in these quick conditions.
Troicki match with Isner the most serve-orientated on day five
Looking at Thursday's schedule, action begins at 5am, and Isner's match against Troicki (not before 10:30am UK time) certainly seems the most likely to be serve-orientated, with my model establishing that the likelihood of no breaks in the first set is just below 40% - considerably higher than any other match on the card.
Gasquet with historical success against the Simon serve
Conversely, Gilles Simon's match against his French countryman, Richard Gasquet, looks the most return-orientated. Gasquet, available at [1.65] currently on the Exchange, has won seven of their eight career clashes, and traders may be interested to know that in non-exhibition head to head matches, Gasquet has broken Simon an incredible 38 times in 77 service games. While Simon was surprisingly solid against David Goffin on Wednesday, a repeat is unlikely given these historical numbers, and a projected hold percentage below 70% tomorrow.
Zverev the value favourite over Del Potro
From a pre-match value point of view, the bet I like is Alexander Zverev at [1.80] to get the better of Juan Martin Del Potro.
Without doubt, from a fitness and age-related upside perspective, these two are at opposite ends of the spectrum and I'm surprised to see the market under-rate Zverev, who was able to have a virtual rest day following Aljaz Bedene's retirement at 4-0 in the first set in the second round.
In the last 12 months on hard court, Zverev has held serve 85.8% compared to Del Potro's 83.5%, and broken opponents 22.1% compared to 19.7%, so the German youngster both has better stats on the surface, and a bigger scope for improvement.
Federer and Nadal again heavy favourites
As with Wednesday, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal are heavy favourites against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Fabio Fognini, respectively, while Marin Cilic takes a 3-0 head to head lead into his clash with Steve Johnson, and Albert Ramos has a marginal market edge over Jan-Lennard Struff.
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