Monday Afternoon Tennis Picks at the BNP Paribas Open
TPN/Getty Images. Pictured: Dan Evans
The second week of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells is here and it projects to be an action-packed week.
With the men’s side of the draw only entering the third round, the early portion of the week will see a high volume of matches, which is great for those looking to exploit advantages.
Here is how I will be looking to do that on Monday.
Match times are subject to change.
Diego Schwartzman (-170) vs. Dan Evans (+138)
2:00 p.m. ET
There are a number of traits you see in a player like Schwartzman that are present in Evans’ first round opponent, Kei Nishikori. Both are great ball strikers, aren’t going to overpower you on their serves and tend to have great mental strength.
Schwartzman is probably a better version of the Japanese, but Evans should have a great idea of what he needs to do to beat the Argentinian when the pair take the court. Additionally, Evans and Schwartzman engaged in a thrilling match in Cincinnati just a month and a half ago — and it was tense — with the world number 15 pulling it out in a decider.
There are reasons to back Evans this time around, however. The Brit is rounding back into dangerous form having gotten through a spell in which he struggled after a COVID-19 diagnosis. He struck the ball really well in a loss to Cam Norrie in San Diego, and backed that up nicely in his first round comeback win vs. Nishikori.
Evans did it despite not serving well at all. While he typically likes to prioritize his serve and capitalize on its effectiveness, he only served at a 62% clip against Nishikori — with a 4-5 ace-to-double fault ratio as well. While he was able to take 79% of the points on his first serve and 53% on his second, there is a major improvement in the serving department likely to come.
On Schwartzman’s side, he was both fortunate but deserving of his first round win against Maxime Cressy. Schwartzman had to save 2 match points on return against the big-serving American, and Cressy bailed him out with errors from that point on. Schwartzman did make his shots and force Cressy into tough spots, but in most situations, the performance wouldn’t have been good enough.
You have to credit the toughness he displayed, but it’s not the type of situation you want to see Schwartzman in, and it points to Evans being underpriced.
Back him at a great number.
Pick: Dan Evans +138 via PointsBet
Casper Ruud (-255) vs. Lloyd Harris (+205)
2:00 p.m. ET
Watching Ruud craft his game to work on hard courts has been incredibly impressive. The clay-court specialist has been unstoppable in recent weeks, winning eight hard court matches in a row across all events and only dropping a lone set to Grigor Dimitrov.
He rightfully is getting the respect he deserves, but Harris hasn’t been too shabby as of late either. The South African wasn’t at his best in San Diego, but he appears to be picking up his US Open form again in Indian Wells. Harris absolutely rocked the solid Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round, and it could pay big dividends against Ruud.
Both Ruud and Davidovich Fokina have games that are built primarily for clay, meaning high-spinning groundstrokes and great movement. Fortunately for Harris, he doesn’t have to play Ruud on clay, and while the surface in Indian Wells is slow, it isn’t going to offer the same purchase for Ruud’s spin. This means that Harris is going to have opportunities on his forehand wing to receive the ball in his strike zone and tee off on it.
Harris was dominant behind his serve against Davidovich Fokina — winning 82% of the points behind his first serve and 55% of the points behind his second — and he’ll have to have a similar output against the relentless Ruud. But if he is able to maintain those numbers he is going to put a lot of stress on Ruud’s service games, and there is a very real chance that the Norwegian struggles to hold pace.
Respect Harris’ chances of pulling off the upset.
Pick: Lloyd Harris +205 via FanDuel
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