It's day three of the US Open tonight, with the first half of second round matches taking place. Back with his views on the action is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"When we look at the hard court stats for the two players in 2018, Medvedev has won a higher percentage of matches (76% to 62%), and has a combined serve/return points won figure higher than his Greek rival (103.0% to 100.5%)."
Benneteau extend Cecchinato's winless hard court run
It was a mixed bag for our men's picks yesterday, with Julien Benneteau recording a solid 3-1 win over Marco Cecchinato, as an underdog, further extending the Italian's career main tour hard court record to 0-9. However, Max Marterer was pretty uncompetitive in his loss to Kei Nishikori, failing to cover the +7.5 game handicap.
Market unimpressed with Djokovic win over Fucsovics
We weren't miles from a big result for our outrights either. Our pick among the favourites, Rafa Nadal, has now moved into the [3.40] tournament favourite after Novak Djokovic's issues with the heat yesterday in New York. Djokovic was in trouble at a set all and 4-2 down to Marton Fucsovics, but ended up winning ten consecutive games to prevail in four sets. The market was unimpressed with the Serb, who has drifted a touch to [3.55], despite winning eventually.
In fact, there was very little in the way of shocks in the men's event on Tuesday evening, with my outright book only moving by 1% implied when removing all the eliminated players - aptly illustrating that the vast majority of players knocked out were expected to have little impact in the latter stages of the event anyway.
Given the fact that all four of the players my model reflected value on are underdogs tonight, it would require this situation to change, and I'll discuss each one in some detail now.
Humbert one to keep an eye on
Initially, in the 16:00 UK time matches which are the first on court, the market has now returned Stan Wawrinka to top ten level with his pricing, and he's just [1.12] to defeat Ugo Humbert. The French qualifier, Humbert, is probably a new name to a number of readers, but it's worth noting that he's had decent success at a low level of late.
Humbert is currently at a career-best ranking of 139, and at 20 years of age, looks to have decent upside for the future. At Challenger main tour level this year on hard court, he's 15-4 and running at 108.0% combined serve/return points won, so he definitely has some decent potential - certainly he shouldn't be a million miles away from the top 100 in the near future.
Even in the last month when Wawrinka has exhibited most of his improvement towards his previous best levels, he's improved much more on serve than return statistically, and Humbert +7.5 games might not be a bad shout on the game handicap. While Humbert may not get the win tonight, he looks one to keep an eye on.
Medvedev value as underdog against Tsitsipas
However, the match I want to focus on for our recommendation is Daniil Medvedev, against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Russian, Medvedev, is the [2.42] underdog for this Next-Gen battle, and I'm surprised by this line.
I feel the pricing is influenced by several factors - firstly, Tsitsipas' run to the final in Toronto on hard courts, where he lost the final to Rafa Nadal. However, this was a very 'variance friendly' performance in Canada, where Tsitsipas won an abundance of key points and even won two matches where he won fewer points in the match. This is absolutely unsustainable in the long-term.
In addition, the world rankings give Tsitsipas a big advantage. However, that's due to several factors - firstly, the aforementioned run in Canada, and secondly, because Medvedev is awful on clay and barely picked up a ranking point in April or May, losing five of six matches on the dirt. Obviously Medvedev's lack of aptitude on clay has zero impact into our rationale today.
Medvedev hard court data more impressive this year
When we look at the hard court stats for the two players in 2018, Medvedev has won a higher percentage of matches (76% to 62%), and has a combined serve/return points won figure higher than his Greek rival (103.0% to 100.5%). With this borne in mind, Medvedev's price looks decent value, and he's today's recommendation.
Kudla can keep it respectable against Del Potro
Other underdogs I make value today include Denis Kudla, probably on the game handicap, against Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine pretty much never loses to much worse opponents, but Kudla, with home support, can keep matters relatively close. Del Potro is just [1.08] to make round three, and certainly, Kudla should be a considerable upgrade on the recent level of Del Potro's round one opponent, Donald Young.
Sonego generously priced against Khachanov
Finally, Lorenzo Sonego, after beating Gilles Muller in round one, looks big at [10.00] against Karen Khachanov in what should be a fairly serve-orientated match-up. Khachanov has made great strides this season, but looks very short at [1.10] against a competent opponent who has won a lot of matches on the Challenger Tour.
Outright picks Nadal and Coric in action
We also have our two outright picks in action, with Rafa Nadal a virtual shoo-in (according to the markets) against Vasek Pospisil, while Borna Coric is also a very strong favourite to overcome the Spanish clay-courter, Roberto Carballes Baena.
Murray in danger of exit against Verdasco this evening
Other big names playing tonight include Milos Raonic, who is [1.27] to beat the declining Gilles Simon, while Andy Murray is rather bigger (and correctly so) at [1.70] as he faces Fernando Verdasco. I've seen little evidence that Murray can make a big impression in the next two weeks in New York, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if his journey ended tonight.
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