ATP Daily Hitter: Finding Friday’s Betting Value at Indian Wells

ATP Daily Hitter: Finding Friday’s Betting Value at Indian Wells article feature image

© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Maxi Marterer finished the job for us yesterday in style — breaking the blistering serve of Ivo Karlovic at 3-2 in the decisive set. He did so just when it appeared (for two-plus hours) like no break would come. Time to look ahead to Friday’s card with a little bit of panache to find some ATP betting value.

Action kicks off from the California desert tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. Without further ado, let’s dive into Friday’s daily hitter and two other value looks.

Friday’s Daily Hitter

Match:  Mischa Zverev vs. Mikhail Kukushkin -123
Where: BNP Paribas Open | Indian Wells
When: Not before 8 p.m. ET

Mischa Zverev has had a 2018 to forget, and it doesn’t appear as if he will turn it around anytime soon. With his serve-and-volley attack, there are generally fine margins  — and Zverev hasn’t even been coming close this season. Zverev has also struggled on these courts in the past — owning just a 3-6 record in his career at IW. (While not impressive by any means, Kukushkin is a touch better at 4-5).

Mischa has been eviscerated in his past two matches. He was dogged 6-1, 6-2, against Juan Martin del Potro and 6-2, 6-1, at the hands of Karen Khachanov. And neither of those players are exactly top-flight returners. Even more disturbing was Zverev’s first-serve point won percentage. Against del Potro, he won just 48% of his first serves. He was only slightly better against Khachanov at 55%. For a serve-and-volley player … those types of serving numbers are alarming.

Mikhail Kukushkin (pictured above) has also struggled in 2018, but he has at least been knocking at the door in close matches. The Kazakh forced two deciding sets in his last two matches against solid players in Stefanos Tsitsipas and Damir Dzumhur. This is a good spot for Kukushkin to cash in a win. He is a solid enough returner to force Zverev to beat him off the ground, which should work out in Mikhail’s favor. Kukushkin also hits flat linear angles that will keep Zverev moving. With the way Zverev has been hitting this season, I expect the unforced errors to pile up, especially on the slow hard courts at Indiana Wells. With each additional ball Zverev has to play, the more the advantage shifts to Kukushkin.

In regards to the historical head-to-head, matches between these two players have generally been very tight. Interestingly enough, Zverev was listed as a -500 favorite when the two met last year at Wimbledon. Mischa was in much better form and grass is his preferred surface, but Kukushkin still pushed him into a fifth set. Even with the surface change, you can tell by the drastic change in odds over such a short period what the oddsmakers also think about Zverev’s current form.

Apart from that Wimbledon match, these two have only met one other time at the Tour level, which came back in 2010 on an indoor court at Zagreb. Kukushkin won that one in straights, but results from eight years ago don’t mean much. They have also split two matches at the Challenger level, with both going three sets.

All in all, these are two pretty evenly matched players on this surface when each are on form. However, given Zverev’s current slump, I have to make an investment in Kukushkin at -123. I personally make the line around -165 in favor of the Kazakh.

DAILY HITTER: Mikhail Kukushkin -123

Two Other Values

Taro Daniel +190 (vs Cameron Norrie)

A lot of value here, as I see this as closer to Daniel +120. I think oddsmakers are overreacting to the young Brit Cameron Norrie’s recent success. Daniel won their only previous match last season on another outdoor hard court in Maui (6-4, 6-4) — and was priced at -182 ahead of that. Daniel ultimately has more weapons. Too much value to pass up on at +190.

Alex de Minaur +120 (vs Jan Lennard Struff)

Struff has been less than impressive in recent years on hard courts (26-30 at the Tour level since the start of January 2016). I also loved what I saw from de Minaur in Australia earlier this season. The young Aussie De Minaur should apply consistent pressure on Struff’s serve and extend rallies from the baseline. I simply love how early de Minaur takes the ball. He is live at +120 on this surface.

I personally make de Minaur a slight favorite. The only thing I’m worried about is the break in action since his Aussie-swing triumphs. De Minaur has only played one match since the Aussie Open, although it was an impressive showing, as he pushed Sascha Zverev (current world No. 5) five sets at Davis Cup.

Stuckey Says

  • Sam Stosur -111
  • Naomi Osaka -126
  • Belinda Bencic -130
  • Amanda Anisimova -109
  • Marketa Vondrousova +133


Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports