With the ATP Miami Masters getting underway in a few hours, it's a good time to look at the day one schedule. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the action...
"Djere’s win over a rusty Steve Johnson in Acapulco last week broke the run of seven consecutive hard court losses, and he’s won just three hard court matches in the last two years on the main tour."
First round action gets underway in Miami
Sixteen of the 32 men's first round matches in Miami take place today, and players are competing to make round two where the 32 seeded players enter the tournament after their first-round bye. Given this, there's a reasonable shortage of big names taking to the courts either today or tomorrow, and they will start their tournaments on Friday.
While nobody at the forefront of the market is in action today, there's still some interesting clashes although as I've said many times previously, it's worth being pretty cautious with regards to staking in these opening round matches where we aren't necessarily sure of the condition of a few players.
Alcaraz Garfia versus Ruusuvuori the highlight
One of the clashes which I'm extremely interested in is Carlos Alcaraz Garfia against Emil Ruusuvuori, and this features two players who have extremely high future upside. The winner faces Alexander Zverev in round two, so there's a decent prize at stake and it's Ruusuvuori who is the market favourite at 1.635/8 currently.
I also think the Finn should be favourite but I have him priced very slightly bigger, and I'm also anticipating a return-orientated match with a few breaks and swings. Both players already look at a similar or better level than the average ATP hard courter and in my view, possess top 10 potential. It will be fascinating to see where each player is at against a rival young player.
McDonald perhaps over-rated for Pospisil clash
Several other players that I'm keeping an eye on today, but more from a pre-match value perspective are Vasek Pospisil and Jiri Vesely. Pospisil is a 2.0811/10 slight underdog for his match against qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, and we'll start here.
Both players have come through long-term injuries, and Pospisil made big steps to recover his lost ranking last season, with a final in Montpellier and Sofia plus a fourth round showing at the US Open. The Canadian has only recorded one win so far this season though, although it's worth making the point that his three losses all came as an underdog against Daniil Medvedev, Denis Shapovalov and Marton Fucsovics.
McDonald beat both Roberto Cid and Ivo Karlovic - both as a heavy favourite - to qualify here, and he's won a lot of matches this season, although only Borna Coric was particularly a win of note. He's won a lot of matches against mediocre players as a heavy favourite, including winning the title in the Nur Sultan Challenger at the end of February.
Djere with much to find on hard courts
My model likes Pospisil, although I'd like to have seen more of him this year and therefore I'll look at the option of Jiri Vesely, who looks big at 1.654/6 for his meeting with the Serbian, Laslo Djere.
With the exception of his most recent loss, which was against Peter Gojowczyk, Vesely has lost to good opposition this year - Carreno-Busta, Auger-Aliassime and Ruusuvuori - and I can't help thinking he's generously priced against Djere, who has a woeful hard court record over the last couple of years.
Djere's win over a rusty Steve Johnson in Acapulco last week broke the run of seven consecutive hard court losses, and he's won just three hard court matches in the last two years on the main tour. He's running at a very poor 93% combined service/return points won in these matches, and this won't get the job done against many players at this level. Vesely is our pick today.
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