ATP Indian Wells Day Four: Fognini odds-against value against Albot

Italian Tennis Player Fabio Fognini
Fabio Fognini looks value to get back to winning ways...
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There's more second round action at Indian Wells this evening, and after a third consecutive winner, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, looks at Sunday's value...

"Summarising, this looks like the classic 'big price on out of form better player against in-form worse player' situation, and Fognini is today's recommendation."

Kecmanovic hits the hat-trick

We hit the hat-trick last night at Indian Wells with another underdog victory. Miomir Kecmanovic eased to a straight-set win over Maximilian Marterer, while my perception that the market had over-reacted to Nick Kyrgios' win in Acapulco was boosted by the Australian's two sets to love defeat against Phillip Kohlschreiber. It will certainly be interesting to see how Kyrgios is priced up in his next tournament.

This is also the case for Stefanos Tsitsipas - I still feel the Greek talent is rather over-rated by the market and flattered by his ranking, and defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime backed up my assertion last night. I'm not saying that Tsitsipas cannot be a top player, but I don't believe he is at top 10 level currently.

Fognini a big price on tonight's tricky card

Tonight's card looks a little tricky as we attempt to go for winner number four, and there are a few players around the even money mark who look interesting, although with some caveats.

Primarily, this focuses around Fabio Fognini, who if you were offered odds against versus Radu Albot six months ago, I'd have assumed it was a bookmaker mistake. I discussed Albot a little on Friday, but in short, he's won far more matches this year than his data suggests he should, and it's still a stretch to think he's able to maintain in excess of a 50% winrate long-term at main tour level.

Poor break point data likely to mean-revert

Fognini has been poor this year - mainly on his preferred clay courts, surprisingly - and his problems have mainly stemmed from his serve, where he's holding less than 70% in 2019. This is exacerbated by only saving just over 50% of break point chances on his serve, which is dire by anyone's standards in the men's game. Considering he's winning around 60% of service points (still relatively poor in itself), these break point saving percentage should rise as he mean-reverts.

According to my model, 12 month hard court data prices Fognini at just over [1.50] to get the win, so it is difficult to ignore the [2.22] about the enigmatic Italian, despite these concerns. Something slightly encouraging worth noting is that in his last outing, against the rapidly improving Felix Auger-Aliassime, he earned the same number of break point chances as the Canadian, but still fell to what looks like a comprehensive defeat when looking at the scoreline - he's just not been playing the key points well, and this 'inability' almost always is simply variance.

Summarising, this looks like the classic 'big price on out of form better player against in-form worse player' situation, and also considering that the slowish hard courts should be to his liking, Fognini is today's recommendation.

Pouille value to beat Hurkacz if match-fit

Another player who looks big, and who has unsurprisingly been backed in from opening lines, is Lucas Pouille, against Hubert Hurkacz. The Frenchman is currently [1.97], but after reaching the Australian Open semi-final, has only played once since. This was a three-set loss to Marcos Baghdatis in Montpellier, and there is a concern that he missed virtually all of the February indoor tournaments, which are generally some the events that he'd have a high expectation to do well.

My worry is that Pouille might be a bit rusty against an improving, but often over-rated, young opponent, although my numbers do think he should be a slight favourite here.

Several young prospects favoured by the market

Several other young players look like they are positively treated by the market, with Denis Shapovalov looking short at [1.74] for what looks like a 'pick-em' match against Steve Johnson, while that's the same situation for Andrey Rublev, who is [1.69] against Robin Haase. However, I'm sticking with Fognini for this evening's recommendation.

In other matches, Roger Federer and our outright selection, Rafa Nadal, get their tournaments underway. Rafa has shortened in the outright market despite not hitting a ball in the tournament so far, and he starts against our Friday winner, Jared Donaldson, and is just [1.07] to move into round three. Federer is [1.08] to get past the German, Peter Gojowczyk.

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