Second round matches at The Western & Southern Open take place today and, with numerous big names taking to the courts, Dan Weston previews the action...
"Ruusuvouri has dominated hard or indoor hard court events in Challengers, reaching the final of the Canberra Challenger in January (lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber) and won four other events from June 2019 onwards. Unsurprisingly, his numbers are stellar at that lower level and should translate well to the main tour subsequently as well."
Bedene with long-shot potential against Fritz
On day two, it was good to see some of the players I mentioned as potential value getting the job done, including Marcos Giron and David Goffin in particular. As mentioned throughout the week so far, though, I think it was reasonable to be reticent about getting involved much in the pre-match markets given the lack of recent activity for the players in action.
At the second round stage, only the players with a first round bye haven't played a competitive match yet, so we can start to get a little more insight into the level of the players from the first round, at the very least.
With action getting underway at 16:00 UK time, one player who performed well, Aljaz Bedene, looks a little big at 3.55 against Taylor Fritz. Bedene overcame Christian Garin in the final set of their first-round match, and also got the job done twice as a slight favourite in his two qualifying matches. Medium-term hard court data suggests this could be closer than the market anticipates.
Carreno-Busta and Schwartzman should enjoy slower conditions
Bedene is one of several interesting underdogs, with Pablo Carreno-Busta also looking a little generously priced at 2.305/4 for his meeting with Karen Khachanov. My suspicion here is that the likely medium-slow conditions in New York are likely to favour the Spaniard, and I'd be more comfortable with this market pricing had the tournament been played at the faster courts of Cincinnati, as it usually is. So far in this tournament, just 78% of service games have been held, which is low for a hard court event and backs-up my pre-event assertion about the court speed.
Court speed suitability is also the case for Diego Schwartzman against Reilly Opelka. The Argentine, who was originally a clay-court specialist before admirably improving on hard courts - perhaps shades of David Ferrer there - is a 1.9420/21 marginal favourite over the big-serving Opelka, and I think that the pressure that he could put on Opelka's serve in these slower conditions should be of benefit to Schwartzman.
Ruusuvuori can compete against Berrettini
However, my focus for a recommendation comes in one of the later matches on the schedule. Emil Ruusuvuori has extremely high potential, and he's qualified to be here after wins against Jeremy Chardy and Thiago Monteiro, plus a first-round victory over Sebastian Korda.
Ruusuvuori dominated in his two qualifying wins and faces sixth seed Matteo Berrettini tonight in round two. The Italian, Berrettini, was very active in European exhibitions although with relatively mixed results, and while his ranking and track record at ATP level dictates that he should be favourite here, I'm surprised to see him as short as he is at 1.3030/100 to beat the improving Finn here.
Ruusuvouri has dominated hard or indoor hard court events in Challengers, reaching the final of the Canberra Challenger in January (lost to main tour veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber) and won four other events from June 2019 onwards. Unsurprisingly, his numbers are stellar at that lower level and should translate well to the main tour subsequently as well.
Only against clay-courters has Berrettini won easily when priced in this sort of region on hard or indoor hard courts, and I'd be surprised if he won easily today. The 8/11 with the Sportsbook looks pretty generous with Ruusuvuori getting a 4.5 game head start, and that's today's recommendation.
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