Miami Masters Day 4: Talented prospect Kuhn to cover against Fognini
Tennis action on Saturday sees the conclusion of round two at the Miami Masters, and with a further 16 matches on the schedule, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, looks at the matches which offer value...
"The handicap line is +4.5 in the favour of Kuhn for this match-up, and analysis of Fognini's career history, filtering for best of three set hard court matches where he's been a sub [1.50] favourite, is rather difficult, given that he's only played four matches in his career with such dynamics. However, Fognini hasn't covered the reverse -4.5 game line in any of these four, and we'll take that."
Djokovic far from world number one level
After taking the first set 6-4, it seemed our +3.5 game handicap recommendation of Maximilian Marterer was in excellent shape last night, but Grigor Dimitrov took the next two sets, losing a mere three games in the process, deeming our pick a loser.
Also a loser yesterday was Novak Djokovic - not that we recommended the Serb - but the former imperious world number one appears to have plenty of improvement still to do to reach the summit again. Against Benoit Paire - admittedly an opponent with a high peak level - Djokovic created a solitary break point chance, facing eight on serve in ten service games, and such data is not at all positive for future events.
Federer opens with Kokkinakis clash
He's certainly nowhere near the current level of Roger Federer, who begins his campaign against Thanasi Kokkinakis tonight. On the subject of Kokkinakis, I have a strong view of his level post-injury, but I'll save that for a day where it's more viable to oppose him.
Donskoy with underdog potential against Ferrer
On today's card, most of the value comes in the latter part of the schedule, although in the early matches, Evgeny Donskoy - a player we've profited on multiple times in the past - looks decent value at [2.84] to get past David Ferrer, while Kyle Edmund will is likely to a mockery of his underdog status against Frances Tiafoe if he's close to fitness, which is admittedly a rather large doubt.
Kuhn likely to cover handicap against Fognini
Later on in the schedule, after beating Darian King on Thursday, the 18 year old talent Nicola Kuhn's reward is a winnable clash against the inconsistent Fabio Fognini. The Italian, Fognini, is very short-looking at [1.23], with my model pricing him at [1.38] to get past the young Spaniard.
The handicap line is +4.5 games in the favour of Kuhn for this match-up, and analysis of Fognini's career history, filtering for best of three set hard court matches where he's been a sub [1.50] favourite, is rather difficult, given that he's only played four matches in his career with such dynamics. However, Fognini hasn't covered the reverse -4.5 game line in any of these four, and we'll take that.
Istomin and Bhambri with underdog potential
I also feel that Denis Istomin could spring a surprise at [3.20] against Pablo Carreno-Busta, who's had a very mediocre 2018 so far, and Yuki Bhambri at [2.36] is interesting against Jack Sock, another who has disappointed this year.
Mannarino false underdog against Johnson
While I like those two underdogs, the other underdog I want to discuss is Adrian Mannarino against Steve Johnson. Last time out, Mannarino disappointed us with a final-set defeat against Jeremy Chardy in Indian Wells, but the Frenchman looks value at [2.24] against the American, who hasn't produced his best consistently for several years.
Even in that case, Johnson hasn't ever generated combined hold/break numbers like Mannarino has in the last 12 months (around the 108% mark) and my model makes Mannarino the favourite to take this clash.
Quite possibly, the market is seduced by Johnson's home advantage - not the first time the market loves this, although there isn't much statistical evidence to prove why - and some reasonable showings from Johnson when he dropped down to the Irving Challenger last week.
Either way, these aren't nearly good enough reasons to change my mind here, and we can look at Mannarino tonight as well.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Nicola Kuhn +4.5 games at around [2.00] to beat Fabio Fognini
Back Adrian Mannarino at [2.24] to beat Steve Johnson