The Paris Masters moves into the quarter final stage today, and back to preview a fascinating card, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"Nishikori has improved in recent months, with a hold/break combined figure over the 110% mark, but this still isn't elite level and I make Federer pretty decent value at market prices."
Schwartzman fails to cover following set two capitulation
Yesterday's pick of Diego Schwartzman on the game handicap against Alexander Zverev fell by the wayside, with the Argentine capitulating in set two.
Rather frustratingly, at a 4-6 1-1 down in set two, Schwartzman had actually had break points in more return games than Zverev, and only had two fewer break point chances in the entire match. I'd suggest that a very high percentage of players will cover +4.5 games when having just two break points fewer than their opponent, so we must pick ourselves up and move on to today's schedule.
Zverev looking short-priced against Khachanov
Action gets underway later today than on previous days, with a 1300 UK time start, and getting proceedings started is the aforementioned Zverev, who is a [1.48] market favourite to defeat Karen Khachanov.
I actually think the price on Khachanov is pretty generous, for several reasons. Firstly, across the last two years, he's had better indoor data than Zverev, winning 3.8% more points on serve and just 0.6% fewer on return, and secondly, across all surfaces in the last few months, his data - having shown vast improvement - isn't far off the German's either.
Neither of these points merits any justification towards such market faith in Zverev, and probably the biggest concern for Khachanov backers is the fact that he had a 2.5 hour epic against John Isner yesterday. However, despite needing a final set tiebreak to usurp the American big-server, Khachanov's success was entirely deserved, creating five break point chances to the American's zero - Isner won just 17% of points on return and failed to cause Khachanov's serve any problems at all.
Sock facing opponent upgrade as he bids to avoid ranking drop
Following this, Jack Sock needs to continue his success this week to avoid that big ranking drop previously discussed, but he faces a considerable upgrade in opponent quality from yesterday's rival, Malek Jaziri, as he takes on Dominic Thiem today.
The American is [3.60] to win, and to temporarily avoid that big drop in the rankings - a price I make pretty accurate - although I've been surprised with Thiem this week, with my perception being that a post-US Open indoor tournament, played in medium-fast conditions, is hardly to the Austrian's liking.
Cilic needing to improve serve to test Djokovic
Later on in the schedule, Novak Djokovic is a heavy [1.16] favourite to get the better of Marin Cilic, as he's done 15 times out of their 17 meetings previously. Having said this, Cilic did take two of the last three, but will need to considerably improve on his head to head service numbers - currently below the 70% mark - if he is to continue his recent progress against the Serb.
Federer handicap value despite Nishikori improvement
Finally, Roger Federer takes on Kei Nishikori in the night match, with the Swiss man bigger than the [1.46] that he was for a straight-set victory over Nishikori in Shanghai a month ago. That win was Federer's fifth consecutive triumph against the Japanese talent, and he's [1.54] to make it six on the spin.
Nishikori has improved in recent months, with a hold/break combined figure over the 110% mark, but this still isn't elite level and I make Federer pretty decent value at market prices.
Federer has tended to see off opponents with minimum of fuss indoors, when a solid market favourite, and -2.5 games is at [1.83] currently on the Exchange. I like this line for today's recommendation - those patient enough may even see this rise a few ticks.
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Back Roger Federer -2.5 games at [1.83] to beat Kei Nishikori