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Friday ATP Miami Open Odds & Predictions: Why Kokkinakis and Daniel Present an Edge

Friday ATP Miami Open Odds & Predictions: Why Kokkinakis and Daniel Present an Edge article feature image
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Clive Brunskill/Getty. Pictured: Taro Daniel hits a backhand at the Indian Wells tennis tournament.

The Miami Open has provided quality hard court tennis throughout its first few days of action, but as we head into Friday’s slate, seeded players will take the court.

Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud will all take the court as we head towards the weekend, but there are a few value spots that come on an outside showcase court.

Read on for betting analysis of the Friday slate of tennis around Hard Rock Stadium.

Match times are subject to change. Odds as of Wednesday night. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.

Taro Daniel (-174) vs. Fabio Fognini (+142)

11 a.m. ET

You may be looking at this line and think it’s a little weird, but it may actually undervalue the form of Taro Daniel right now. The Japanese player has cruised through two qualifiers and his first round opponent to get to the second round in Miami, and he’s played some excellent tennis in the process.

Daniel excelled against Max Purcell and Bjorn Fratangelo, but his best performance came against an in-form Jaume Munar. He took a touch off his first serve, resulting in a 68% first-serve rate and a 72% first-serve points won percentage. However, he got a bit more aggressive behind his second ball, allowing him to secure 67% of his second-serve points.

That put a grinder as talented as Munar in trouble as he was consistently behind the eight-ball on points, and Daniel will be tough to beat in these conditions strategizing and executing that well. Daniel generated six break points while Munar created just one, and he converted on 50% of those points.

Fognini comes into this match having withdrawn from his second round Indian Wells matchup with Nikoloz Basilashvili. He’s played solid tennis in recent events but elevated speeds and humid conditions could provide more discomfort for Fognini.

On the season, Daniel has mustered a 78% hold rate and 25% break rate on hard courts, compared to Fognini’s 82% and 18% clip. The conditions in Miami are favorable to servers, however, and that is a big advantage for Daniel.

Fognini only has 20 aces on the year to go with 16 double faults, and generating free points off of his serve isn’t a specialty. Fognini will need to excel from the baseline, which he is comfortable doing, but Daniel has shown that he has the rally tolerance and weaponry on the ground to compete with solid ball-strikers, so the ability to garner free points on serve will be a big difference.

There are a number of ways for Daniel to go on runs in this match, but not nearly as many exist for Fognini, who will have to grind throughout the match.

That lends a quality edge against the spread for Daniel.

Pick: Taro Daniel -2.5 Games (-105 via Caesars Sportsbook)

Diego Schwartzman (-142) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (+118)

2:30 p.m. ET

To be completely honest, I’m going to give a rationale against the Argentine here, but he doesn’t get enough credit for his hard court prowess at this stage in his career.

Schwartzman’s hard court Elo Rating is only 20 points lower than his clay court Elo, and that’s a compliment to his hard court ability rather than a negative on his clay game. That’s because the surface allows him to get a little bit more from his below-average serve by Tour standards. His ball-striking is elite no matter the surface, so that boost is vital for him.

Nonetheless, this is a tough matchup for Schwartzman, and I project him as the underdog. Kokkinakis has already won three singles matches, and like Daniel, he hasn’t dropped a set en route to the second round. He’s averaged 4.5 aces per set, winning over 75% of his first serve points and not getting broken once thus far in the tournament.

While Schwartzman is one of the best returners in the game, these are ideal conditions for the Aussie, who excelled in the Australian summer swing prior to the Tour’s American swing. Kokkinakis’ 68% service points won this year on hard courts is 6% better than Schwartzman’s, and that offsets the 6% disparity in return points won between the two.

At worst, Kokkinakis should be a pick ’em for this match, so any plus-money price provides an edge for bettors.

Pick: Thanasi Kokkinakis ML (+118 via FanDuel)

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