Thursday ATP Tennis Best Bets for Round 1 of BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells (Oct. 7)

Thursday ATP Tennis Best Bets for Round 1 of BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells (Oct. 7) article feature image

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Zachary Svajda lines up a forehand at the 2021 US Open.

An under-the-radar slate of tennis gets underway Thursday, with some compelling first-round matches being played at Indian Wells.

You can find a full outline of the earliest session of matches here or you can read on to see how I'm playing the entirety of the card on the day.

Match times are subject to change. 

Jaume Munar (-162) vs. Carlos Taberner (+130)

2 p.m ET

I talked a bit about this in the preview, but Munar and Taberner would much rather be playing this match on a clay court in Mallorca rather than a hard court at Indian Wells, but here we are.

The Spanish duo has played 720 professional matches on clay, but only 114 on the surface they'll meet on today. Nonetheless, the first-round matchup presents an incredible opportunity for both. For Munar, a third career second-round appearance at a Masters 1000 event would be vital, and for Taberner, a first Masters 1000 win is on the line.

There's reason to believe the latter will be the one to push through. While Munar competed respectably in two European indoor hard-court events, he was performing near his ceiling on the surface, while Taberner is far more capable of being a consistent player on hards.

With an ability to flatten out strokes and hold position on the baseline, Taberner should be able to take the initiative in points and remove a bit of time that Munar has on the ball, which is when he thrives.

Taberner and Munar have a 3-3 head-to-head record, with all six matches coming on clay, but I get the sense that it will be Taberner who gets the fourth win of the series.

Pick: Carlos Taberner +130 via Caesars Sportsbook

Mackenzie McDonald (-137) vs. James Duckworth (+110)

3:20 p.m ET

This line represents a belief that Duckworth will be short of fitness when he takes on the American. I'm not convinced that this won't be the case, but at this price, I'm more than happy to take that risk.

Duckworth has been one of the breakout players of the summer period, proving that it wasn't a fluke in recent events. After bowing out of the US Open in a disappointing five-set loss to Pedro Martinez, he's been on a tear. Duckworth won a challenger in Istanbul, reached the final of an ATP 250 in Nur-Sultan and the quarterfinals the following week before losing to Jannik Sinner, whom he pushed to the brink.

Don't get mw wrong. McDonald is a solid player on hard courts and the tennis he displayed in Washington earlier this year was mightily impressive. However, he hasn't played since a first-round US Open loss to Kei Nishikori and he's getting far too much credit with this line.

Had Duckworth not travelled from Europe to California in short time for this match, he would certainly be favored, and with five days of rest to take advantage of he could well be good to go.

Back Duckworth to maintain his form and move on.

Pick: James Duckworth +110 via Bet365

Salvatore Caruso (-130) vs. Zachary Svajda (+106)

9 p.m ET

Perhaps the match I'm most excited about features 18-year-old American Svajda against qualifier Caruso.

The two-time Kalamazoo champion is only 5-foot-9, but strikes the ball as well as a top-20 player on tour. Reminiscent of Diego Schwartzman, Svajda has the ability to dictate points and dominate on the ground. His serve has seen steady improvement, and two years after he nearly beat Paolo Lorenzi in the first round of the US Open as a 16-year-old, it's time for the young American to break out.

If you take a look at Svajda's results, it's confusing how he doesn't play more tour-level matches. Likely in part because he doesn't want to burn out, but Svajda has competed with every single player put before him on tour since the dawn of 2021, including ATP mainstays Jannik Sinner, Denis Kudla and the surging Jenson Brooksby.

While the Italian will be a difficult out, he isn't going to present Svajda with anything he hasn't dealt with and he'll have a great chance to capitalize and get a confidence-boosting win.

Pick: Zachary Svajda +106 via PointsBet

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