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ATP Shanghai Masters Day Two Tips: Kecmanovic value in pick-em match with Kukushkin

Scottish Tennis Player Andy Murray
Andy Murray continues his comeback against Juan Ignacio Londero on Monday...
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After a low-key start yesterday, there are 12 matches taking place at Shanghai Masters tomorrow. Returning with his thoughts on Monday's schedule is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"This is clearly a numbers play, with Kecmanovic having almost a 10% edge on service/return points won on hard court this season in main tour matches, as well as being on a clear upward curve having just turned 20 years of age at the end of August."

Tight sets and tiebreaks likely in Shanghai

Four matches took place on the opening day on Sunday in Shanghai with victories for Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Nikolas Basilashvili and Joao Sousa on the opening day, and one day I'll be able to understand the logic of starting a tournament on Sunday with just four matches. Currently I'm struggling to comprehend the point!

Tacking those four onto Monday's 12 scheduled matches would make much more sense, but there's still plenty for people to consider on Monday, with action getting underway at around 530 UK time. As I wrote in the outright preview, conditions are likely to be quick, with tight sets and tiebreaks more likely than average in the coming week. While there's not any matches with an extremely high tiebreak likelihood tomorrow, there could well be over the next few days, and I'll discuss these situations if and when they exist.

Cecchinato with poor hard court data

In the earlier matches, Benoit Paire looks generously priced from a statistical perspective, at [1.66] against Marco Cecchinato. The Italian clay courter, Cecchinato, has qualified to be here, although Fajing Sun and Damir Dzumhur are hardly the most testing opposition a player will face to make the main draw of a Masters 1000. This year on hard court Cecchinato is running at 80% service hold and 11% breaking of opponents, and he will be hoping that the talented but inconsistent Paire has one of his relatively frequent off-days.

Another player who has had more bad days than good of late is Kyle Edmund, with the Brit really struggling over the last few months. The market has certainly priced this into his line of [1.94] against Jeremy Chardy, who statistically looks flattered by nine wins out of his last 15 main tour matches, given that he's running at below 100% combined service/return points won in that sample.

Garin a fitness doubt for Cuevas clash

I'm also quite surprised that Christian Garin is priced at [2.10] in a match which the market anticipates to be tight against Pablo Cuevas in the battle of South American clay-courters. Garin retired last time out against Cameron Norrie in Beijing last week, and hasn't really proven much on hard courts this year, with a clear deficiency on return, running at just shy of 34% return points won. While Cuevas is certainly one of the weaker players in the field, I do think he should be a relatively solid favourite over a potentially injury-afflicted Garin.

Kecmanovic value against Kukushkin

However, my recommendation for Monday's day one matches is Miomir Kecmanovic in another 'pick-em' against Mikhail Kukushkin. The market makes Kecmanovic a very marginal [2.04] underdog, while my numbers make him favourite.

This is clearly a numbers play, with Kecmanovic having almost a 10% edge on service/return points won on hard court this season in main tour matches, as well as being on a clear upward curve having just turned 20 years of age at the end of August. He's had a relatively solid breakthrough year this season, getting to the verge of the top 50, and a good showing towards the end of the season could even put him fairly close to Australian Open seeding.

While this is a long way off, I do expect him to get the better of Kukushkin tomorrow. Kecmanovic was unlucky last week against Denis Shapovalov in Tokyo, losing 6-4 6-4 but the scoreline only told part of the story - he was 0-5 on break point chances, with Shapovalov converting two of his six, and a player is pretty unlucky to lose in straight sets winning 47% of total points in the match. It was a pretty creditable display from Kecmanovic against a higher profile and higher ranked opponent, and a similar level should be enough to get the job done against a downgraded opponent in Kukushkin on Monday.

Weakened Murray still likely to be enough for Londero

In other matches, we see Andy Murray on court again as the Scotsman continues his comeback. I'm still concerned by his level on return, with his numbers being far from close to his peak level, but he deserves to be a relatively solid [1.36] favourite against the Argentinian clay-courter, Juan Ignacio Londero, who has qualified to be here.

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Dan Weston,

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