Friday Morning ATP Tennis Picks: Ride 2 Underdogs in Sofia Quarterfinals

Friday Morning ATP Tennis Picks: Ride 2 Underdogs in Sofia Quarterfinals article feature image
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Credit: Vaughn Ridley, Getty. James Duckworth sets up after returning a shot.

The ATP heads into a big weekend as players vie for wins in advance of the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells.

All four quarterfinal matches will be played in Sofia today, with a couple of great opportunities on the card.

Read on for my take on the value of the underdogs in Friday’s Sofia lineup.

Match times are subject to change. 

Gael Monfils (-350) vs. Gianluca Mager (+260)

8:30 a.m. ET

Gael Monfils reached this quarterfinal position with… 0 wins? That’s right. The electrifying Frenchman had a bye into the round of 16 before his opponent, Ilya Ivashka, withdrew from the tournament. His most recent match was played in Metz, where he fell to Pablo Carreno Busta in a tight semifinal.

Gianluca Mager hasn’t dropped a set in his first two matches in Sofia, playing some fine tennis in the process. The Italian that had only played three main-draw ATP matches on indoor hard courts coming into the tournament has done a phenomenal job of getting into attacking positions off of his serve (both first and second) and generating opportunities in his return games.

He’s been able to do this in the early rounds by taking time away from both Adrian Mannarino and Miomir Kecmanovic, two players who play completely different games. Monfils plays with a combination of flatter balls that are powerful, and Mager should be prepared to deal with that.

The 35-year-old Monfils will be dealing with an interesting combination of rust and freshness. On one hand, he’ll have had a nice break that should assist with fitness, but he also has now gone about a week without playing a competitive match.

It’ll be interesting to see if he is able to put that aside and come out of the gates at a solid level. If he doesn’t, Mager has a real chance at getting a head start and pulling off the upset.

Pick: 0.5u Gianluca Mager +260 via BetMGM | 0.5u Gianluca Mager to win a set +105

Jannik Sinner (-357) vs. James Duckworth (+275)

11:00 a.m. ET

Jannik Sinner has played 10 non-slam matches since the start of the post-hard court Wimbledon season, and he’s only lost two matches in straight sets. However, one of those came to James Duckworth.

While Sinner was battling a leg injury throughout the match only a couple of days after he capped off a title run in Washington, the Australian played really well, refusing to give Sinner any free points and attacking with intent when given the chance. Duckworth wasn’t broken the whole match, a credit to the high level at which he can serve when in form.

The same kind of tennis that Duckworth was playing in Toronto has followed him into the indoor season, where he’s continued to excel. In his last match against Benoit Paire,  Duckworth was able to execute really well in both serve and return games.

The 29-year old generated 12 break points on return and  and won 63 percent of the points on Paire’s second serve. He also won 70 percent of the points behind his first and second serves, all while serving at an average 58% first serve rate.

Sinner on the other hand was a bit lucky in his opening match against Egor Gerasimov. Sinner likely deserved to advance, but he conceded eight break points and only lost one of them, a testament both to his ability under pressure and also to a degree of luck.

His level will have to be far greater against Duckworth, and I’m not sure he’s going to be able to generate that. Much like the prior match, a similar approach should be taken.

Pick: 0.5u James Duckworth +275 via Bet365 | 0.5u James Duckworth to win a set -110

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