US Open Men's Day 6 Tips: Basilashvili handicap value against high-variance Opelka

Japanese Tennis Player Kei Nishikori
Kei Nishikori has struggled on serve against Novak Djokovic previously...

The remaining third round matches at the US Open take place on the Saturday schedule, and after another winner last night, Dan Weston returns to preview the action...

"Opelka, as mentioned earlier on in the tournament, looks over-rated by the market after some recent strong results, but ones which were variance-heavy - built on the shaky foundation of tiebreak victories."

Alcaraz Garfia shocks Tsitsipas

Carlos Alcaraz Garfia not only covered the 6.5 game handicap line last night against Stefanos Tsitsipas, but ended up beating the third seed in a five-set epic. I made the point yesterday that accumulated fatigue may well cost the Greek in the tournament, and this may well have been the case in that defeat. As for Alcaraz Garfia, though, he really does look a young player of huge potential and there's now a clear path for him to make the semi-finals here, at least.

In other matches, there were a couple of other five-setters with Felix Auger-Aliassime edging Roberto Bautista-Agut, while Frances Tiafoe shocked Andrey Rublev in a decider as well. British interest in the men's singles continued too, with Dan Evans fighting back from two sets down to eliminate Alexei Popyrin in five.

Moving on to today's schedule, the two top four players on the card are overwhelming favourites to make the fourth round next week, and we will start with them.

Big Names

Novak Djokovic 1.041/25 v Kei Nishikori 24.0023/1: The world number one, Djokovic, dominates the field and this is reflected in his price against a former top ten regular in Nishikori. I think it's probably a few ticks short but nothing particularly noteworthy - and we have to mention as well that the Serb has won their last 16 meetings in a run which goes back to October 2014.

A recurring theme from their previous meetings was Djokovic exploiting Nishikori's serve. The Japanese man has held serve just over 60% of the time in his career against Djokovic, which won't be remotely close to getting the job done. If Djokovic can exert as much return pressure today as he has done throughout his career against Nishikori, the match will be over pretty quickly.

Alexander Zverev 1.071/14 v Jack Sock 13.50: Zverev is similarly priced to Djokovic, and again looks a couple of ticks short although nothing to write home about. The home wild card, Sock, is nowhere near the level he was at when he was ranked inside the top 10 towards the end of 2017, and he also picked up a groin injury in Cincinnati several weeks ago as well. Nine sets so far presumably won't have been beneficial to that either, and it would be a real surprise if Sock caused a shock.

Potential Value

Andreas Seppi 2.226/5 v Oscar Otte 1.804/5: The German, Otte, is a marginal favourite when I think he should be a bit shorter. Seppi has really struggled in recent times, and particularly of late, beaten in six of his previous seven matches before this tournament.

Market pricing is likely due to Seppi having recorded two big underdog victories over Marton Fucsovics and Hubert Hurkacz so far, but nine sets could take their toll on the veteran Italian also.

Basilashvili should keep it close against Opelka

Nikoloz Basilashvili 2.942/1 v Reilly Opelka 1.511/2: Opelka, as mentioned earlier on in the tournament, looks over-rated by the market after some recent strong results, but ones which were variance-heavy - built on the shaky foundation of tiebreak victories. Underlying data would suggest his results are better than his numbers would imply.

Basilashvili is inconsistent, but appears to have got into a more positive run of results of late after really struggling post-lockdown, and in what's likely to be a serve-orientated match, I'm really surprised we can get as big as around 1.705/7 based on general market pricing on the Georgian with a 4.5 game head start.

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