ATP Daily Hitter: The Underdog to Target on Sunday at Indian Wells
Just how we drew it up yesterday with our hitter, huh? Fabio Fognini was up a set, serving for 5-1, and then — bam! — “bad” Fabio (licorice Fabio) opened the door for a pretty ridiculous comeback by Jeremy Chardy. I mean, I’ve seen some matches in my time … but a set and double break deficit is not one you’ll see Chardy recover from too often.
And, while Fabiolo undoubtedly dropped his level (at least somewhat there in the second set), let’s not take too much away from the Frenchman. Chardy’s forehand was utterly menacing from the middle of the second set on, as he thrashed any short balls into oblivion. Make no mistake: He he won this match more than Fognini lost it. Either way, our tickets cash at +178, and we look to pick some more of our own tennis winners on Selection Sunday.
Without any further ado, let’s dive into the card, focusing on a match that starts around 8 p.m. ET.
Sunday’s Daily Hitter
Match: Milos Raonic vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime
Where: BNP Paribas Open | Indian Wells
When: Not before 8 p.m. ET
I’m willing to try my luck against Milos Raonic (pictured above) in this one. He’ll likely feel some extra pressure against 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, a fellow Canadien, and also one of the sports biggest, youngest, prodigies.
I like what I’ve seen so far from FAA in his limited sample size. He’s a big, strapping kid, with a strong serve and pretty strokes off either wing. After recording his first Tour-level win yesterday (against another compatriot, Vasek Pospisil), I expect FAA to step on court today with some added confidence.
Frankly, though, this pick is mainly a Raonic fade. The “Missile” looked absolutely abhorrent in his last match against Steve Johnson in Delray. His backhand and footwork were off, and even his serve looked depleted. He hit just 11 aces against Johnson (the same number FAA hit against Pospisil in his first-round match) and just nine the match before against Daniel. Raonic will have to get more free points off his serve today if he expects to beat FAA, who can hold his own in rallies as long as he gets the first ball in.
And that’s where I think FAA will have an advantage in this one: from behind the baseline. I came away from his first Tour-level match against Filip Krajinovic extremely impressed with the way FAA takes on the ball from behind the baseline — and how smoothly he’s able to redirect it (either down the line or cross court) from defensive positions. Unless Raonic is ending rallies quick — and on his terms — with the forehand, I expect FAA to grind out a lot of longer points, especially any backhand-to-backhand rallies.
At +275, I’m down to roll the dice on FAA. After taking out Canada’s third-ranked male player, I think Felix has a more than a decent shot to double up today and knock off his country’s top dog. Especially considering how that “top dog” has had its tail between its legs for most of the 2018 season. If you’re having doubts — or just wanna play with a little added margin — take a look at the set spread (FAA +1.5 sets at +100) or the game spread (+3.5 games).
DAILY HITTER: Felix Auger-Aliassime +275
Wang -118 (WTA)
Samdgren +155 (ATP)
Escobedo -105 (ATP)
Photo via Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports