ATP Indian Wells Futures Betting Preview, Plus a Pick for Thursday

ATP Indian Wells Futures Betting Preview, Plus a Pick for Thursday article feature image
Credit:

Gael Monfils

I know college basketball is in full swing, but don’t forget about Indian Wells betting on Thursday (through next weekend).

In today’s piece, I will take a deeper look at all four quarters, projecting the quarterfinal matchup for each, while noting any futures I fancy. I will close with a bet I like for an individual match today.


BNP PARIBAS OPEN

Indian Wells, California | March 8-18

Site: Indian Wells Tennis Garden
Surface: Hard
Balls: Penn ATP
Prize Money: $7,972,535

The main draw is comprised of 96 players, with the 32 seeded players each receiving a bye into the second round. Due to the draw size, tournament length and pageantry surrounding the event, many consider Indian Wells to be the unofficial fifth Grand Slam on the tennis calendar.

Undeterred by having the best-of-three-set format (instead of five) and offering half the ranking points of a Slam, it’s hard to ignore the Slam-like buzz each year in early March when the BNP Paribas Open hits the California desert.

Having said that, that buzz is slightly subdued this year, as a number of the top players will sit out with injuries. Former Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka will all miss this year’s tournament. It is at least nice to see the return of another major champ (and former World No. 1), Novak Djokovic.

PAST CHAMPIONS

2010: Ivan Ljubičić (d.) Andy Roddick
2011: Novak Djokovic (d.) Rafa Nadal
2012: Roger Federer (d.) John Isner
2013: Rafa Nadal (d.) Juan Martin del Potro
2014: Novak Djokovic (d.) Roger Federer
2015: Novak Djokovic (d.) Roger Federer
2016: Novak Djokovic (d.) Milos Raonic
2017: Roger Federer (d.) Stan Wawrinka

WHO’S OUT

No. 1 Rafael Nadal (hip), No. 7 David Goffin (eye), No. 21 Stan Wawrinka (knee), No. 28 Andy Murray (hip), No. 34 Richard Gasquet (knee), No. 35 Jo Tsonga (knee).

CURRENT MARKET

The chart below contains the 30 lowest futures odds to win the tournament. Considering Federer has a 92.9% win percentage on hard courts since 2017, it shouldn’t surprise many to see him as the odds-on favorite. Roger just needs to reach the semis to maintain his No. 1 World ranking. Djokovic is listed as the second favorite at +650. Fresh off a title in Acapulco, Juan Martin del Potro is tied with Grigor Dimitrov as the third favorite at +1600.

Quarter One

Seeded Players: No. 1 Roger Federer, No. 5 Dominic Thiem, No. 12 Tomas Berdych, No. 16 Fabio Fognini, No. 20 Adrian Mannarino, No. 23 Hyeon Chung, No. 25 Filip Krajinovic, No. 30 Pablo Cuevas

Form Check

  1. Roger Federer ↑
  2. Dominic Thiem
  3. Tomas Berdych
  4. Fabio Fognini ↑
  5. Adrian Mannarino 
  6. Hyeon Chung
  7. Filip Krajinovic ↑
  8. Pablo Cuevas

Unsurprisingly, I like Federer to survive this quarter of the draw. Outside of Thiem (on his best day), I’m not sure any of the seeded players have the current form and/or consistency required to take out Roger. Berdych has defeated Federer six times in his career but has lost his last nine against the Swiss Maestro. I don’t fancy the Czech player’s chances at breaking that streak this week.

The aforementioned Thiem could give Federer trouble if they meet in a quarterfinal (if Roger doesn’t bring his A-game). Despite Thiem’s struggles on hard courts, he has fared surprisingly well against the top players in his career. He owns a 2-1 record against Fed. Granted, both of Thiem’s wins against Roger came on nonhard courts (on the clay of Rome and grass of Stuttgart). Still, you don’t see many players with a winning record against the Maestro (even with such a small sample size).

The conditions at Indian Wells should play slow enough (similar to Acapulco) for Thiem to open up his power game. Despite his straight-sets defeat against del Potro, I was rather impressed by Thiem’s level last week in Mexico. (He did blow set points to force a deciding third set against Delpo.) Thiem looked assertive constructing points on the offensive end, while returning with much more aggression. If he can get a head full of steam, he is the only player in this quarter who can challenge an on-form Federer this week.

If you are looking for an unseeded sleeper in this section of the draw, 18 year old Canadian phenom Denis Shapovalov could make some noise. However, he could have his hands full, yet again, in a potential third-round clash with Thiem. The two also faced off last week in the third round in Acapulco. Thiem ultimately dogged the young Canadian in that match.

Projected Quarterfinal: Roger Federer vs. Dominic Thiem

Futures Bet: Federer to win Tournament (+120)

 

Quarter Two

Seeded Players: No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 7 Kevin Anderson, No. 11 Pablo Carreño Busta, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 17 Nick Kyrgios, No. 19 Albert Ramos, No. 26 Damir Dzumhur, No. 27 Andrey Rublev

Form Check

  1. Grigor Dimitrov
  2. Kevin Anderson ↑
  3. Pablo Carreño Busta 
  4. Roberto Bautista Agut ↑
  5. Nick Kyrgios
  6. Albert Ramos 
  7. Damir Dzumhur
  8. Andrey Rublev 

A wide-open quarter. Top seed Grigor Dimitrov is the bookie’s favorite to make it out of this section, but I can’t say I’m as high on the Bulgarian’s chances. The world No. 3 has yet to really show his class this season. His 10-4 record in 2018 looks decent on paper, but he has yet to find his peak form. Just last week, Dimitrov lost from a set up against Tunisian journeyman Malek “Maori” Jaziri. On top of that, Dimitrov has historically struggled at Indian Wells. He is just 5-6 in his career at Indian Wells, failing to advance past the round of 32.

In contrast, the other top seed in this quarter, Kevin Anderson, has been white hot over the past month. He made back-to-back finals in New York (which he won) and in Acapulco. “KA” appears primed for a run at Indian Wells, as the slow-hard conditions should suit his power-serving game. (The conditions should be close to what he enjoyed at the U.S. Open last season, where he made the final.) Having said that, the big South African has played a ton of tennis lately. Fatigue could be an issue.

Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut may benefit from a potentially lethargic Anderson. The draw could potentially open up for RBA, who finally seems to have his legs after a grim start to the season. RBA captured the title in Dubai last week in convincing fashion. He’s another player who will surely be suited by the slow-hard conditions.

Of course, Nick Kyrgios is always dangerous (if he decides to care), but we haven’t seen him play since the Aussie Open. When I pulled up the draw, the first thing I noticed was the potential for another installment of the Dimitrov-Kyrgios rivalry in the quarterfinals. If both players advance that far, you will see absolutely scintillating power tennis, but it’s not an ideal matchup to handicap. The margins are slim.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not sure Dimitrov even gets that far, with names like Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco, young Russian gunner Andrey Rublev and RBA looming in his half of the quarter.

Projected Quarterfinal: Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Nick Kyrgios

Futures Bet: Bautista Agut to win quarter (+900)

 

Quarter Three

Seeded Players: No. 4 Sascha Zverev, No. 8 Jack Sock, No. 9 Lucas Pouille, No. 14 Diego Schwartzman, No. 18 Sam Querrey, No. 21 Kyle Edmund, No. 28 Feliciano Lopez, No. 32 Milos Raonic

Form Check

  1. Sascha Zverev
  2. Jack Sock 
  3. Lucas Pouille ↑
  4. Diego Schwartzman ↑
  5. Sam Querrey
  6. Kyle Edmund
  7. Feliciano Lopez
  8. Milos Raonic

Ugly quarter, this. Given the forms of the top two seeds, I don’t see any value in backing Zverev or Sock. Pouille, on the other hand, must feel good about his game after making three consecutive finals in Montpellier, Marseille and Dubai. However, he’s played a lot of tennis lately. I get the feeling that could catch up with him here. His 1-2 career record at Indian Wells also gives me pause.

Conditions-wise, Querrey and Edmund should benefit from the slower courts in the desert. Milos Raonic was also a finalist here in 2016, but I haven’t seen enough from any of those three recently to consider backing them outright.

Diego Schwartzman also generally favors slow conditions, but, I spy a potentially dangerous second-round match against Yoshi Nishioka, who knocked out Ivo Karlovic and Berdych (before pushing Wawrinka to a deciding set) here last year as a lucky loser. (A lucky loser is a player who loses in the qualifying rounds, but still enters the main draw after another player withdraws.)

All in all, I don’t see any value in this quarter from a futures perspective.

Projected Quarterfinal: Sascha Zverev vs. Sam Querrey

Futures Bet: Pass

 

Quarter Four

Seeded Players: No. 2 Marin Cilic, No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 10 Novak Djokovic, No. 15 John Isner, No. 22 Kei Nishikori, No. 24 Gilles Muller, No. 29 David Ferrer, No. 31 Philipp Kohlschreiber

Form Check

  1. Marin Cilic
  2. Juan Martin del Potro
  3. Novak Djokovic
  4. John Isner 
  5. Kei Nishikori
  6. Gilles Muller 
  7. David Ferrer
  8. Philipp Kohlschreiber 

With former Grand Slam champions Djokovic, del Potro and Cilic all packed into this quarter, it’s safe to say Quarter Four is the strongest of the draw. Even the unseeded players look somewhat menacing, with former top-10 Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils alongside next-gen star Australian Alex de Minaur.

Given Djokovic’s lack of form and rust at the Aussie Open after months off Tour with an injury, I don’t expect much from the Serb after taking more time off since that tourney. At this point, I feel that Djokovic just needs to get some matches under his belt before he can make real noise in a loaded field.

As for Delpo, the dude’s clearly back on track after a sluggish start to the season. He looked utterly dominant last week in Acapulco, where he took home the trophy. I wouldn’t put it past the big Argentine to keep it going this week at Indian Wells. With veteran Spaniard David Ferrer, a rusty Kei Nishikori and Djokovic as the other seeded players in his half of the quarter, I fancy Delpo’s chances of at least making the quarterfinal.

On the bottom half of this quarter, big-serving Croatian Marin Cilic has a great chance of making the quarters for a potential clash with Delpo, although Cilic hasn’t played his best tennis in the desert in the past. In 10 tries, Cilic has only made the quarterfinals once at Indian Wells, and he was ousted in the first round last year by young American Taylor “Aperol” Fritz. Having said that, Cilic has a solid chance to avenge that first-round loss, given his favorable draw. All the other seeded players in his half of the draw (John Isner, Gilles Muller and Philipp Kohlschreiber) are slumping.

While I couldn’t argue with future investments in Delpo and/or Cilic, I’ve got my eye on Monfils (pictured above), despite a poor record at Indian Wells (and Masters tournaments in general). If Monfils can get some early momentum, we should see his focus increase as the tourney progresses. (Focus has always been a major question mark with Monfils, one of the most entertaining players on Tour.) With a favorable early draw of Australian Matty Ebden in the first round and presumably “Big” John Isner in the second (whom Monfils has a 5-4 career record against), I like Monfils to run with some early momentum. If he does indeed make moves this week, keep in mind that Monfils is 3-0 against Cilic. His most recent win came just last week in Rio, where Gael straight-setted the Croat.

Projected Quarterfinal: Juan Martin del Potro vs. Gael Monfils

Futures Bets: Monfils to win Quarter (+1400)


Thursday Pick

Maximillian Marterer -110 (vs. Ivo Karlovic) – 3:35 p.m. ET

Photo credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports