With half of the round one matches on Tuesday night's schedule in New York, action at the US Open is jam-packed this evening. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the matches...
"Cecchinato is the seed every unseeded player wanted to face, with the Italian 22nd seed never having won a hard court match at main tour level. "
Little in the way of day one drama on the men's side
There wasn't an abundance of drama in the men's side of the event last night on opening day, although as I mentioned as a possibility, Challenger players Lorenzo Sonego and Jason Kubler were able to spring a surprise and get past more well-known opposition in the shape of Gilles Muller and Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Unfortunately though, our pick Grigor Dimitrov was well beaten by Stan Wawrinka, and it will be interesting to see the style in which the Swiss man backs that win up in subsequent rounds. He faces the young Frenchman, Ugo Humbert, tomorrow night, and while I'll discuss this more in depth tomorrow, Humbert has won a lot of hard court matches this year, albeit at a pretty low level.
Cilic looking a little short against Copil
With Rafa making it through yesterday, via retirement against close friend David Ferrer, there are further big names in action tonight. One, sees Marin Cilic faces Marius Copil (who gave him a tough match in Cincinnati a fortnight ago). The Croat scraped through in three sets on that occasion, and both players probably prefer conditions quicker, as Cincinnati was, compared to here at Flushing Meadows. Cilic was [1.17] that day, and is a touch shorter today in the best of five set format, at [1.09].
Djokovic and Federer heavy favourites to progress
In the bottom quarter, also starting their campaigns are Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Djokovic is a heavy [1.04] favourite against Marton Fucsovics, and if the Hungarian is fit and playing to close to his best, might be able to make a decent fist of giving Djokovic a good match. As for Federer, he's similarly priced against the Japanese talent, Yoshihito Nishioka. I feel that Federer will get a fair bit of joy on Nishioka's weak serve tonight, and I'd be very surprised if he was pushed to the limit in his opening match of the tournament.
Cecchinato favourite despite being winless on hard court
I'm keen to look at a couple of matches from a value perspective today, with the first being Marco Cecchinato against Julien Benneteau. Cecchinato is the seed every unseeded player wanted to face, with the Italian 22nd seed never having won a hard court match at main tour level. In fact, his statistics from these are worse than atrocious, particularly on return. In his four in the last 12 months, he's broken opponents just 5.8% of the time.
Opponent Benneteau isn't far from retiring, and hasn't had great results himself this year, but his hard court level still looks a touch above Cecchinato's currently. On this basis, the [2.46] about the French veteran looks pretty decent, and I'm surprised Cecchinato starts as favourite here.
Nishikori priced on reputation against Marterer
The second match I'd like to discuss is the match-up between Maximilian Marterer and Kei Nishikori, with the big name, Nishikori, a strong [1.15] favourite on the Exchange. It is evident that this price has been based on his reputation, as opposed to his recent levels.
This year on hard court, Nishikori is 4-5 and has won a mere 61.2% of points on serve, combining with 36.2% to generate a 97.4% overall percentage - all his best results this year were on clay. Opponent Marterer is also competent on clay but has done reasonably on hard court this year too, with wins over Marton Fucsovics, Ivo Karlovic and Fernando Verdasco, among others, and won an Indoor Challenger event in Cherbourg as well.
The game handicap market on the Exchange is still forming, but you can get [1.77] currently on Marterer with a 7.5 game head start. I think this will settle in the low 1.80s, so those with a litte patience may be able to extract a few more ticks.
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