Wednesday’s Daily ATP Hitter: Coric Takes on His Idol in Monte Carlo
I should probably submit Tuesday’s Cuevas-Verdasco match to guys who run the “Moose Tracker” column on Action Network. Man, that was a bad beat. Cuevas was up a set and 5-3 — with two match points on Verdasco’s serve at 15-40 (and then another at ad-out.) Then, he entered what I like to call “nightmare mode,” broken twice trying to serve for the match in the second set. He then predictably was ethered in the decider 6-1, as he dealt with what looked like a leg “injury” of sorts.
As a wise man once told me, though, you gotta “shake that s**t off,” so shake we will. With a full slate of tennis tomorrow in Monte Carlo, there’s hardly any time to lament, anyways. Action will kick off shortly after 5 a.m. ET — with three decent early-matches (Roberto Bautista-Agut – Feli Lopez, Karen Khachanov – Gillou Simon, and Daniil Medvedev – Kei Nishikori). Again, prepare for an early morning (or late night).
Aside from Wednesday’s hitter, which I’ll get to shortly, I see a few underdogs with value worth considering. Verdasco, who took Tuesday’s hitter out, looked impressive as the match progressed. He can test Marin Cilic in the Croat’s first clay match of the season. Verdasco already upset one giant this year on the clay — Domi Thiem — and usually plays his best tennis on the big stage. At a price of +200, if you’re feeling lucky, Verdasco — who has defeated Cilic five times (including their most recent encounter on clay, back in Madrid 2015) — is a decent option.
I also had my eyes on Guillermo García López at +140 against Andreas Seppi, who came through Kyle Edmund today. Oddsmakers are giving the Italian a bit too much credit on the dirt against GGL, a clay court “specialist” of sorts throughout his career. However, with the H2H heavily in Seppi’s favor (5-1 to the Italian, including 2-0 on clay), I’m going to hold off. My gut does say GGL will have a very good chance in this one though. Definitely value with GGL and the over.
Match: Borna Coric (+215) vs. Novak Djokovic (-255)
Where: Monte Carlo, Monaco
When: 6:30 a.m. ET
After ousting compatriot Dutze Lajovic in the first round, layers apparently have jumped back aboard the Djokovic bandwagon, pricing him pretty heavily against one of the Tour’s most in-form players, Borna Coric (pictured above).
I, on the other hand, am far less impressed by Djokovic’s thrashing of Lajovic, especially considering how badly the latter looked on Monday. Lajovic didn’t really help Djokovic prepare Coric — who will be a different beast for the former World No. 1.
Coric should also come into this one feeling confident about his chances. After making the semifinal of Indian Wells and the quarterfinal of Miami, Coric has now posted stellar results in two straight Masters tournaments. Coric came through Benneteau in the first round (sweat-free) and seems to have settled in on the clay after the change of surface.
Style-wise, I think — given the current (and contrasting) forms of the two — Coric actually has the edge. Both play a defensive counterpunch style from behind the baseline. Thus, we should see plenty of grueling rallies. I simply haven’t seen enough “rally stamina” from Djokovic this year to side with him here, seeing how solid Coric has played. Lest we forget how poorly Djokovic looked just last month, losing to TARO DANIEL and BEN PAIRE in the first round of Indian Wells and Miami, respectively.
At +215, I’ll rock with Coric to notch a win against the player he clearly moulded his game after. I think he ultimately will outhit and outlast the returning-to-form Djokovic.
THE PICK: Coric +215
Photo via Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports