ATP Houston Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions, Analysis: Taylor Fritz, John Isner Have Difficult Battles (April 7)
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Fritz
The clay court tennis rolls on in Houston on Thursday, with the first- and third-ranked Americans featured on the schedule.
Taylor Fritz is coming off of a Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, while John Isner recently secured the doubles title in Miami. However, both could have difficult tests on the evening card.
Here’s why I believe each player will struggle to get the job done in their respective matches.
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Taylor Fritz (-160) vs. Alejandro Tabilo (+125)
7 p.m. ET
While the No. 1 American and new world No. 13 is playing some of the best tennis of his career, that all came on hard courts. Now, he’ll have to adjust to a different surface, and one that his opponent is well-versed on.
Alejandro Tabilo prefers to be on clay and his tournament choices, as well as results this year, reflect that. The Chilean is 15-4 on clay thus far in 2022, and he’s opted to play in a clay tournament instead of participating in the sunshine swing.
Tabilo fell in the final of the Santiago Challenger to Hugo Dellien, but he also did well throughout the golden swing, reaching a final in Cordoba and a semifinal in Santiago.
In 2021, Fritz on 73% of his service games and 27% of his return games on clay, while Tabilo is currently notching 72% of his service games and breaking at a 42% rate in 2022. Further, his clay court Elo Rating is about 80 points better than the American’s, offering an indication that he should likely come into this match as a favorite.
Playing your first clay match of the season against someone that is entirely comfortable on the surface, has already played a match at the event and is a threat to win the event isn’t ideal, and even for someone of Fritz’s quality, this could turn into a real grind.
At any plus number, Tabilo is worth the bet.
Pick: Tabilo ML (+125 via PointsBet)
John Isner (-154) vs. Steve Johnson (+116)
8:20 p.m. ET
Isner isn’t a bad clay player by any means, as he actually had a 5-2 record on the surface in 2021. With that being said, there’s a reason why he only played seven matches on clay. This isn’t the ideal surface for a big server, and the slow conditions in Houston won’t work in his favor as well.
We saw Reilly Opelka face some difficulties in getting by Mitchell Krueger in the first round, and at this point in their careers, Opelka is a more capable player than Isner and Johnson is far better than Krueger.
While Isner does have a clay Elo Rating that’s approximately 100 points better than Johnson’s, his fellow American already got by a tough opponent in Denis Kudla, and he was able to do so while only serving at 53%. That’s actually an encouraging sign for Isner, however, as he’ll fully be capable of falling into a serving lull and surviving.
However, Johnson won a whopping 87% of his first serve points, and that number should only increase against Isner, who won 22% of his first serve return points in 2021 on clay and 40% of his second serve return points.
This is another situation where Isner is fully capable of winning the match, but at plus-money Johnson is being undervalued.
Pick: Johnson ML (+116 via FanDuel)