Thursday Hitters: ATP Betting Value in Montpellier, Quito, and Sofia
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Well, we split our hitters Monday (and into Tuesday), although Stefanos Tsitsipas probably should’ve won after going up a set on Jérémy Chardy. The Frenchman is typically ghastly from a set down, but his forehand was firing off at a mind-bending level, so I guess we have to just tip our caps.
Nicolás Jarry made up for it anyways, in like fashion, storming back against Facundo Bagnis from a set down (pulling out a third set breaker). There wasn’t a stream for that match, but it looked like a cracker from the looks of Flashscore (said like a true degenerate). Needless to say, I worked up a good schvitz in the palms, that’s for sure.
And, with that, we look for where the value lies on tomorrow’s card from Montpellier, Quito and Sofia.
Action begins around 5 a.m. EST on Thursday. At first glance, I see some value with veteran underdog Andreas Seppi (+140) against Gilles Müller, whose level has substantially dropped since last Wimbledon. Seppi looked sharp in his first-round match against Mikhail Youzhny (aka “The Youzh”), who has given him fits in the past. Seppi, who should come into this match confident after his nice start to the season, has split six career meetings with the Luxemburger. Muller has won each of the last three matches, but in their three indoor hard encounters, Seppi has won two. He also took a set off Müller in his only indoor hard loss (2016 Rotterdam). Given his current form, value lies with Seppi at +140.
I also see value with another veteran — the Cypriot, Marcos Baghdatis, at plus money (+135) against Mannarino. The Frenchman looked a bit vulnerable this past weekend at Davis Cup, losing to Thiemo de Bakker in straights and needing five sets to get through Robin Haase (on home soil). Both play a similar style of defensive counterpunch from the baseline, but Baggy has the more dependable — and ultimately more dangerous — weapons. I envision a long back-and-forth match, but with the line at a touch under +150 for Baggy … I lean the Cypriot on his favorite surface. Baggy was in the running for a hitter, for what it’s worth.
I also would look at Denis Istomin (+147) against Viktor Troicki. In fact, I make Istomin a pretty substantial favorite. That leads me to believe oddsmakers may know something about Istomin’s recent fitness or mood. As a result, despite potential value, I will pass.
I like Paulo Lorenzi as a slight favorite (-133) against Roberto Carballes Baena. RCB is a solid player, but conditions in Quito should be perfect for the serve and forehand of Lorenzi. He hits heavy strokes that should not be affected by the altitude.
I also fancy Victor Estrella Burgos (-105) to go another round as a slight dog against Gerald Melzer. “The King of Quito” (Estrella Burgos) put on an inspiring show in his first-round clash against Thomaz Bellucci, a player who excels in altitude. He ultimately found a way to grind the Brazilian down (following his doping ban). I expect a similar performance from Burgos against Melzer. His backhand slice and SHEER HEART should get him through.
Lastly, I will have my eye on Casper Ruud against Gaël Monfils in the Frenchman’s first clay match of the year. I really like Ruud’s game on the dirt, especially in a vulnerable spot against “La Monf.”
On a pretty weak slate I like all three of the big-priced Frenchman (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet) to advance. But there’s no value from a betting perspective. As for the other matches, I don’t see much.
If Benoît Paire stays focused, he has the game to beat John Millman with ease. But he can also beat himself pretty easily, too. I’d say the same for Damir Dzumhur, I suppose, against Ruben Bemelmans at -130. Bemelmans looked menacing in his first-round match against Calvin Hemery, though. Finally, I think Karen Khachanov advances against Ričardas Berankis, but no thanks at that price.
Now, without further ado, let’s dig into the hitter.
Hitter: Martin Klizan (+145)
Opponent: Stan Wawrinka
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Surface: Indoor Hard
Projected Start Time: 11 a.m. EST
Ah, Martin Klizan — one of the most interesting cases on tour. Equipped with some of the prettiest strokes (especially on the backhand side), Klizan always seems to up his game against the Tour’s best players. And on Thursday, he will face three-time GS champ Stan Wawrinka — and I expect a strong showing from Klizan.
At this point in his recovery, there are many unanswered questions surrounding Stan. Two weeks ago, he was unimpressive at the Aussie. He dropped a set against Ricardas Berankis before exiting in straight-set fashion against Tennys Sandgren. And while Klizan skipped the Aussie entirely, if you remember back to last season’s AO — with Stan seemingly in prime physical condition — Klizan pushed the Swiss player five sets before succumbing. In their only other head-to-head match, Klizan pushed Stan the distance again in Casablanca back in 2010.
I watched some of Klizan’s (a heavily BEARDED Klizan now) final qualifying match against Donski and came away impressed. His serve looked sharp — and he hit heavy off the ground from each wing. By the time the second set rolled around, he was eating Donski alive and won 7-5 -1. Additionally, Klizan dropped only one set coming through quallies — a reassuring sign, as his motivation has tended to veer off at points during his career.
Yet, with Klizan, the part of the tennis schedule where he has consistently showed focus is the indoor hard season. In 2016, Klizan made the semifinal of this tournament, beating Rosol and Seppi in the process (before losing in a tight third to Vik Troicki). He backed up that performance in Sofia by winning the indoor tourney at Rotterdam — beating Robredo, Baghdatis, RBA, Mahut, and then Monfils in the final.
Stan will have to be extremely sharp to see off Klizan tomorrow. And, given the class of his opponent, I expect the Slovakian’s best effort. That should mean danger for Stan… especially given his fitness level. In closing, I would have fancied Klizan in this spot (sleepy part of the season after a Slam) against a fully fit Stan; so, against a rusty Stan, this qualifies as a hitter.
Photo via Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports