Ruud no certainty to beat big-serving Jarry
For my final preview this week it's back to Seoul and the Korea Open, which I must say has been a really good addition to the ATP Tour this year.
Conditions have been very playable, with a decent-paced surface and plenty of passionate fans have been in attendance, which hasn't always been the case at some of the tournaments on the Asian swing in the past.
We were unlucky with the set one overs the other day when Nicolas Jarry and Ryan Peniston played their tie break in set two rather than set one and a similar bet is a decent option on Thursday.
The big-serving Chilean qualifier, who faces Casper Ruud, has held serve 100% of the time so far in three matches in Seoul and after three days of play in the main draw of the Korea Open the tournament has proven to be as quick as I'd hoped.
After 11 main draw singles matches there were 84% holds of serve and 74% first serve points won, which puts it ahead of the 2022 ATP Tour average on outdoor hard courts of 80% holds and 72% first serve points won.
And Denis Shapovalov said after his match on Wednesday: "(It's) definitely pretty quick. I feel like the courts are skidding a lot, the ball is skidding a lot through the shot."
My concern with Jarry in this particular match is that it's being played at not before 7pm local time, which isn't ideal, but it won't be for Ruud either, who'll quite likely find it tough to adjust at first.
He's coming from Laver Cup on very slow indoor hard and he's shown in the past that he sometimes struggles to adapt quickly to changing conditions.
I'm also far from certain that Ruud will be up for this after a lot of tennis lately, plus he's down to play the 500 in Tokyo in only four days' time as the top seed.
Indeed, he didn't sound like he was that bothered about this week in his press confernce: "I feel that I have done very well this year, so if it doesn't go extremely well (at the tournament), it's not going to matter too much," Ruud said.
It still looks a decent pace in the evening matches and around 20C, so it doesn't get cold and chilly like some of the other night sessions (it was still 19C at 9pm local time on Wednesday) so Ruud might take a while to get on top of Jarry's big serve.
Late-arriving Fritz vulernable against McDonald
Another Laver Cup player that may struggle at first is Taylor Fritz, who didn't get to Seoul until late Tuesday and admitted that it might be tricky for him in the early rounds.
In his press conference on Wednesday Fritz said: "Coming straight from the Laver Cup and getting in late last night, it's going to be tough, maybe the first round or two," he said.
In which case it's worth taking a chance on Mackenzie McDonald to either win a set or to win the opening set in what will be McDonald's fifth career clash with his fellow Californian.
Fritz has won three of the four, but McDonald won the most recent one, which was on slower, higher bouncing hard courts in Delray Beach, Florida, back in 2019.
That Delray Beach match was played in similar circumstances to this one in Seoul in the sense that it was the opening match of the tournament for Fritz and given how much quicker conditions are in Seoul compared to Laver Cup Fritz will do well to adapt quickly.
McDonald has the advantage of having one match under his belt already and he should be fresher, less affected by jetlag, and with less accumulated fatigue in his legs.
Fritz has played 26 matches since the French Open, while McDonald has played only 17, and that could be key in these late-season tournaments.
I'm also not too worried about the head-to-head, with Fritz's three wins coming in 2015 and 2017, so the price of 3.02/1 about McDonald winning set one is worthy of a one point wager.
Elsewhere, my two outrights are in action on Thursday, with Yoshihito Nishioka facing Taro Daniel in a match that I'd expect Nishioka to win on the form that he showed (in an admittedly favourable match-up) against Dan Evans.
Nishi looked to be striking the ball really confidently and he should have too much for Daniel in reasonably lively conditions.
Kwon a lively underdog against inconsistent Brooksby
I also give a decent chance to Soonwoo Kwon, who's enjoyed himself so far in Korea, winning a testing round one encounter and partnering the returning Hyeon Chung to a narrow victory in the doubles on Wednesday.
My concern with Kwon is that he's played the night sessions and now he's playing in the afternoon, but he certainly has the ability to beat the often-underwhelming Jenson Brooksby, who's pulled out of Tokyo next week for unspecified reasons.
Given that Brooksby's body breaks down on him regularly, I wouldn't be surprised if he's carrying another injury, as he's not played loads of tennis lately, so it's not fatigue that's made him quit Tokyo.
Kwon and Brooksby will be meeting for the first time and the latter's form lately, where he's lost four of his last eight matches when priced up as favourite, suggests he'd be a risky one to back at 1.51/2 or so against the motivated Kwon.
Brooksby was very much tested in sets one and two by number 212 Tung Lin Wu before the latter ran out of gas in the third set and this looks a match that Kwon can win on his best form.
But the bets today are McDonald to win set one for a point and half a point on set one over in Ruud/Jarry.