Tuesday ATP Tennis Picks: Best Bets for Indian Wells Qualifiers
Credit: Jaimi Joy, Getty. Alejandro Tabilo hits a volley at the 2020 Australian Open.
Three weeks after the conclusion of the US Open, tennis has another important tournament. Though the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells doesn’t have the same significance as a grand slam event, many call it the “fifth slam” of the tour and with good reason.
Nothing will compare to the four grand slam tournaments in place – they dominate the tour’s landscape – but Indian Wells, or tennis paradise, is a key event on the tennis calendar, and it’s back after a near two year hiatus.
The Masters 1000 event was the second tournament cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and was last held in March of 2019. The two finalists, Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer, are both out of the event this year, and fellow big 3 members Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will also miss out. It’s a testament to the changing landscape of tennis that can almost be broken into a pre-COVID and post-COVID era.
1st big title for Dominic Thiem in Indian Wells, at 25 years old. #BNPPO19
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) March 18, 2019
In the spirit of a phenomenal tournament making its return to the tour, there is no better way to celebrate than evaluating the qualifying draw and the opportunities that are out there. Let’s take a look at what picks I’m making on the first day for the men in Indian Wells.
As a reminder, you can check out a primer on how to watch qualifying draw matches here.
Match times are subject to change.
Emilio Gomez (-172) vs. Aleksandar Kovacevic (+129)
2:00 p.m. ET
Emilio Gomez enjoyed a really nice run of form to begin the season, but that has been lost in recent months. The 29-year old hasn’t been able to get out of the qualifying stage in his last 2 ATP events and is 1-2 in his last 3 matches overall, falling to Alex Gautier and Julian Lenz in succession.
His opponent, Aleksandar Kovacevic, has been doing quite the opposite. With 5 wins in his last 7 matches – all on the challenger level but on hard courts – the American has been finding a groove. If it weren’t for 6 match points that were saved by Marco Trungelliti at the US Open, the former University of Illinois player even would have made it to the main draw in New York.
The two have only faced each other once, at an ITF event in Houston, where Gomez pulled out a tough victory, but I don’t think he’ll be able to do that in Indian Wells, where Kovacevic could be in line for a breakthrough tournament.
He doesn’t have a main draw win on the ATP Tour, but with great form and a path through the qualifiers, it could finally be time. Indian Wells tends to play at a medium-slow pace, which could assist the American who likes to be patient but attack when possible on the surface. Against an out-of-form Gomez, being able to take the initiative in points and establish command early will be crucial to victory.
I like Kovacevic’s chances to get a crack at a main draw chance in tennis paradise.
Pick: Aleksandar Kovacevic +129 via PointsBet
Michael Mmoh (-174) vs. Alejandro Tabilo (+138)
4:40 p.m. ET
It’s hard to understand Michael Mmoh’s price in this position when he simply hasn’t played a lot of tennis recently. When he has, it hasn’t been at a high level. His last quality win came at the Australian Open back in February, and while his best hard court level is higher than Alejandro Tabilo’s, you have to assume that’s not the Chilean will be facing.
Tabilo comes into Indian Wells on the back of two indoor tournaments in France – where he went 1-2 – but faced quality tour-level competition. Matches against Jiri Vesely, Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Roberto Marcora will have prepared him well for the challenges he’ll face on a hard court surface, and he should be ready to go in an important tournament.
Playing in Indian Wells hasn’t been kind to Mmoh in the past, either. He’s 0-3 in his qualifying appearances at the BNP Paribas Open and is 1-1 in the Indian Wells Challenger (the last event that was held before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to tennis). It will be hard to envision Mmoh getting a foothold in this match early, and if he can’t find a rhythm he will be in a lot of trouble.
Expect Tabilo to get on the front foot early and put himself in a great chance at victory.
Pick: Alejandro Tabilo +138 via FanDuel