Thursday Afternoon ATP Tennis Picks: 3 Best Bets for 250 in San Diego, Including Andy Murray (Sept. 30)
Casey Sykes/Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Fritz celebrates after a point at the Atlanta Open.
Though the ATP 250 in San Diego is currently a one-year stopgap event on the calendar, it has been home to some excellent tennis.
On Wednesday, a comeback from a set and break down from Diego Schwartzman headlined the slate and there are a number of big-name matches set to take place on Thursday’s card.
Check out below for the spots where I’ve found betting value at the Barnes Tennis Center.
Times subject to change.
Cameron Norrie (-170) vs. Dan Evans (+135)
2:30 p.m. ET
The two Brits are incredibly familiar with each other’s game, facing off throughout the exhibition summer of 2020 that was the result of the global pandemic, in addition to a first round meeting at the Australian Open this year.
It’s typically not the best idea to give too much credit to a player for exhibition results, but Cameron Norrie’s win at the Australian Open was dominant, coming in four sets in which he generated 16 break points. To his defense, Dan Evans was coming off of his first ATP title and only had two days of rest before his battle with Norrie.
However, Norrie’s game is well suited to deal with Evans, as the lefty is happy to remain patient and hold his ground from the baseline. His fellow countryman offers a similar style, utilizing a slice backhand early and often to try and get free points or get the ball to his forehand wing where he can become much more offensive.
The issue with this against Norrie is he’ll have to hit a much more uncomfortable down-the-line backhand rather than a crosscourt backhand to get the ball onto the left-handed backhand that Norrie possesses.
The world No. 28 has struggled in recent months, but a first-round win against Dominik Koepfer should give him some much needed confidence heading into this second round with Evans. If he can serve close to the 74% first serve rate he had in round 1, he’s going to be a serious favorite to exit with a victory.
I’m comfortable avoiding the juice in Norrie’s moneyline and backing him to cover the game spread.
Pick: Cameron Norrie -1.5 games -132 via Caesars Sportsbook
Denis Shapovalov (-175) vs. Taylor Fritz (+139)
3:50 p.m. ET
Another pair of players that are no strangers to each other, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz have met three times before, with the most recent matchup coming via a showdown in Qatar that went the way of the American.
At the US Open a year prior, Fritz served for the match in the fourth set, but wasn’t able to convert and ultimately lost the match. According to Fritz, he simply choked. Fritz has done well in dealing with the big-ball striking of the Canadian in the past, responding with firepower of his own and holding his position on the court.
While the strategy has been solid, it can be inefficient when Shapovalov gets into a groove. If the 22-year old is hitting the ball well, he enjoys getting pace to deal with and excels against the hitting that Fritz can provide. When he’s not hitting the ball well, Fritz poses massive problems with the depth and heaviness with which he plays.
It’s hard to say which type of Shapovalov we’ll get, but coming from an indoor tournament at the Laver Cup and adjusting to the conditions in San Diego will be as difficult for him as they would be for any player. He can struggle with ball tosses, dealing with wind and has general unforced error issues, so moving into the San Diego conditions will not come easy for Shapo.
I’ve been really impressed with his game as the year has progressed, but as we saw at the US Open and at the Laver Cup, when Shapovalov gets behind it can be a real struggle to recover. Against an inspired opponent in his home area, I think we might see that again.
Pick: Taylor Fritz +139 via Bet365
Casper Ruud (-162) vs. Andy Murray (+130)
8:30 p.m. ET
This match is aptly placed in the headlining spot of the night session, as it has all the context to be a fascinating and cracking match.
Andy Murray continues on his path back up in the rankings, seeking to crack the ATP top 100 for the first time since 2018. The former world No. 1 has been finding a taste of his old game recently, grinding week after week to develop the defensive mastery he once had.
This past week in Metz, Murray got a big win against the world No. 25 Ugo Humbert, who was playing in his come country of France. He ultimately fell to tournament champion Hubert Hurkacz, but he recovered in the first round in San Diego, defeating Denis Kudla with some nostalgic shots.
Andy Murray lobs are something else 😍 #SanDiegoOpen
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 29, 2021
Casper Ruud is coming into the tournament following a week in Boston, where he featured for Team Europe in the Laver Cup. He picked up a win against Reilly Opelka, but to do so he allowed the big-serving American to beat himself. Murray won’t offer the Norwegian that opportunity.
Ruud will have to play offense on a hard court, something he doesn’t often like to do. He’s certainly improved his hard court game, partly why he’s been able to climb up the rankings so rapidly, but most of his wins outside of an impressive one against Diego Schwartzman have been against big hitters who give Ruud mistakes to capitalize on (Cilic, Opelka two times).
Against a consistent player like Murray, that will be a much more difficult method of getting a win.
Pick: Andy Murray +130 via Caesars Sportsbook
Full Match Schedule
Cameron Norrie (-170) vs. Dan Evans (+135), 2:30 p.m. ET
Denis Shapovalov (-175) vs. Taylor Fritz (+139), 3:50 p.m. ET
Hubert Hurkacz (-210) vs. Aslan Karatsev (+160), 3:50 p.m. ET
Sebastian Korda (-162) vs. Lorenzo Sonego (+128), 5:20 p.m. ET
Casper Ruud (-162) vs. Andy Murray (+130), 8:30 p.m. ET
Felix Auger-Aliassime (-230) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (+180), 9:50 p.m. ET