Thursday evening sees the commencement of the Indian Wells Masters, with matches starting at 19:00 UK time. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out the day one schedule...
"The main causes of this poor record focus around Karlovic's usual awful break opponent percentage (6.3%) and a mediocre 8-13 tiebreak record in these 15 matches.. Yes, he's played 21 tiebreaks in 15 matches, and this equates to 50% of the 42 sets he's played in this sample."
Tiebreaks likely in Karlovic match
There are 16 men's singles matches on the opening day in California, and in what I anticipate to be medium-slow conditions, there are a number of clashes which look worth examining in some detail. As ever, my usual urge for caution in opening rounds of events applies.
Despite these expected medium-slow conditions, it is unlikely that we will witness many breaks of serve in the match between Ivo Karlovic and Maximilian Marterer. A massive 17 years separates the Croatian veteran, Karlovic, and the highly-rated German prospect, Marterer, and it's worth noting that Karlovic has won just five of his 15 hard court matches in the last 12 months.
The main causes of this poor record focus around Karlovic's usual awful break opponent percentage (6.3%) and a mediocre 8-13 tiebreak record in these 15 matches. Yes, you read correctly, he's played 21 tiebreaks in 15 matches, and this equates to 50% of the 42 sets he's played in this sample.
Against a rather serve-orientated opponent in Marterer, my model makes the match-up a 64% chance for a first-set tiebreak, pricing up the proposition at [1.56]. The Sportsbook is offering a rather generous 11/10 on this outcome (7-6 to either player), and this is a bet that I like, and the 10/11 on Marterer looks a little value also, with my model pricing him at [1.76].
Copil unlikely to enjoy slow Californian courts
Marius Copil looks a little over-rated at [1.80] against the Canadian, Peter Polansky, who battled past the big-serving Italian prospect, Matteo Berrettini, in qualifiers to make the main draw. Polansky is available at [2.20], which my model liked, making the match-up a 'pick-em'. Essentially, my view on Copil is that he's a very solid player indeed indoors, and in quick conditions in general, but is much weaker in slower conditions, and my suspicion is that he may not find the court speed in California to his liking.
Harrison vulnerable against clay-courter Delbonis
Another match-up with an underdog who may prefer the conditions features Ryan Harrison against Federico Delbonis, with the clay-courter, Delbonis, having the potential to have a smaller ability difference against the American compared to if they met in quicker conditions. A retired ex-player told me that Delbonis has a technical issue with his forehand which is exacerbated in quicker conditions, and he is unlikely to face that problem here. Delbonis is available at [3.50] with the Exchange.
In the later matches which will be played overnight for European viewers, it would be a mark of how far Jiri Vesely has declined if he was unable to progress past Nicolas Kicker, whose hard court stats are nothing short of horrific, while I feel Evgeny Donskoy is a touch under-rated against countryman, Karen Khachanov.
Khachanov vulnerable as a heavy favourite against competent Donskoy
Donskoy comes into the event in decent touch following consecutive outdoor quarter-final results in main draw events, and is a competent hard courter in general. Opponent Khachanov is adored by the market following his victory in Marseille last month, but he's still a rather hit or miss prospect in general, as evidenced by him having a below 100% combined hold/break percentage on hard court in the last 12 months.
The underdog, Donskoy, is available at [3.75] on the Exchange, and while a 2-0 head to head lead in his favour has been generated from match-ups on clay, and therefore offers little relevance, it's certainly not a negative, and he's my preferred chance as a heavy underdog tonight.
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Back 7-6 to either player in the first set at 11/10 in the Ivo Karlovic/Maximilian Marterer match
Back Evgeny Donskoy at [3.75] to beat Karen Khachanov