Thursday ATP Odds & Picks for Nadal vs. Kyrgios, Alcaraz vs. Norrie (March 16)
Matthew Stockman/Getty. Pictured: Rafa Nadal hits a forehand in a match against Nick Kyrgios.
The Indian Wells draw has been a gift that keeps on giving, and we have one of the best matchups possible on men’s Tour in store for us on Thursday.
21-time Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal, who is 18-0 on the season thus far, will take on Nick Kyrgios in the early match, while 18-year old Carlos Alcaraz will take on last year’s champion Cameron Norrie in the late slot.
Here’s how I’ll be betting the marquee matchups.
Match times are subject to change. Odds as of Wednesday night. Read here for tips on viewing tennis matches.
Rafa Nadal (-330) vs. Nick Kyrgios (+250)
6 p.m. ET
The Australian has been playing as well as he has on the singles tour in some time, but he’ll be given his stiffest test thus far in the form of Nadal.
Nadal and Kyrgios have a storied history that goes back to 2014, when an up- and-coming iteration of Kyrgios upset Nadal at Wimbledon. Since then, the rivalry has heated up, with a bit of bad blood brewing between the two due to comments made by Kyrgios himself as well as Toni Nadal, Nadal’s former coach.
On the court, the pair have offered fans some incredible matches, including thrilling four-set battles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open in the past three years.
The last non-slam matchup between the pair came in February of 2019, when Kyrgios defeated Nadal in a third set tiebreaker at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.
At Indian Wells, Kyrgios has played at an incredibly high level, facing nine break points and not conceding one of them in three matches, including one against world number eight Casper Ruud. He’s kept his first serve percentage above 75% all week, and that’s devastating for opponents considering it’s one of the best serves on Tour.
When Kyrgios isn’t forced to hit second serves, trying to read and get into points against his biggest weapon is remarkably hard, and it’s completely flummoxed Ruud, Sebastian Baez and Federico Delbonis. Kyrgios has also been efficient on return, winning 63% of the 16 break points he’s faced, allowing him to cruise through sets.
Nadal hasn’t has as smooth of a path to the quarterfinals, overcoming a 5-2 double break deficit to Sebastian Korda in the third set of the opening round and battling from breaks down against Dan Evans and Reilly Opelka to win twice in straight sets.
The Spaniard noted after his match with Opelka that he’s beginning to struggle with his nagging foot injury a bit more, but the extent of the problem is hard to determine. Nadal has excelled off of the ground as one would expect, but he hasn’t been perfect, and his first serve percentage has risen above 70% just once on the week.
Kyrgios and Nadal have gone over the total in their last three matches, and Kyrgios has shown that he’s more than capable of playing elite tennis on these courts. And while I’ve underestimated Kyrgios all week, I’m still not going to be the one to try and predict Nadal’s first loss on the season.
Rather, I feel as though this is a targetable over with the levels that the two are playing at as well as their history. Nadal has had a set go to 12 games in four of seven sets thus far on the week, and if anyone can cause bigger problems for him, it’s Kyrgios.
Look for a battle to ensue in this match.
Pick: Over 22.5 Games (-105 via Caesars)
Carlos Alcaraz (-257) vs. Cameron Norrie (+203)
9 p.m. ET
If the first men’s match of the day is to be a war, I expect something a bit different from this contest.
While Norrie played near-flawless tennis to get by Jenson Brooksby on Wednesday, he’ll be dealing with a player that is currently reaching ridiculous levels of quality.
Alcaraz has played one of the most impressive stretch of matches that we’ve seen from anyone this season, dismantling high-quality players in Mackenzie McDonald, Roberto Bautista Agut and Gael Monfils with ease. Each has posed different questions of Alcaraz, and in each instance he’s overcome them with relentless power and defense.
He’s allowed his opponents 12 holds of serve in 26 service games, a 54% break rate, and he’s only allowed seven break opportunities this week, conceding two of them.
These courts are ideal for both Norrie and Alcaraz, and Norrie is playing impressive tennis at the moment, but the way that Alcaraz is playing, it seems silly not to try and tail him to see how far he can take this run of form.
The last and only time Norrie and Alcaraz met, the Brit was dismantled in three sets at the US Open, and while Norrie has improved his game since then, Alcaraz is simply a world-class player right now. He has the sixth-highest hard court Elo Rating on Tour right now, and Alcaraz is going to be a tough out for anyone.
I’m backing Alcaraz to handle another match with relative ease.
Pick: Alcaraz -3.5 Games (-112 via PointsBet)