ATP Preview: Home Comforts to Benefit Federer8 min read
We look ahead to the ATP tournaments this week as the season begins to near it’s conclusion.
Swiss Indoors – Basel, Switzerland (indoor hard)
When it comes to betting on this tournament, it’s all surely down to your opinion of Roger Federer and the current state of his game.
On the last 11 occasions Federer has played his home event he’s reached the final. On the last three he’s won the title and following last year’s success he’s now an eight-time champion in Basel.
But plenty now say there are real signs that the end is nigh for Federer, who has certainly struggled since his loss to Kevin Anderson, from match-point up, at Wimbledon.
John Millman beat him at the US Open (the two could meet again in round two here) while in Shanghai he failed to create a break point in a match for the first time in more than three years as he lost in the semis to Borna Coric.
Conditions were fast there and therefore in Federer’s favour and while it will be a bit slower here these courts and balls are still very much suited to the 37-year-old, who interestingly this week put at least some of his struggles down to a practice fall during the grasscourt season which, he says, hurt his right hand.
For me, he’s still easily the most likely winner in the field and the price of 11/4 look too big not to get involved with.
Yes, Federer is more vulnerable now than he’s been for some time but he’s back indoors where he loves to play and this week he’s competing in front of a home crowd, an occasion to which he’s risen in the past.
Of his market rivals under 10/1, it’s not too difficult to pick holes in them.
Alex Zverev is probably the most likely challenger but he’s not done that much since winning in Washington and when he did make the semis in Shanghai he was thrashed by Novak Djokovic. Indoors he remains to convince too.
Marin Cilic has found it near impossible to close matches out of late, losing in bizarre fashion in both Tokyo and Shanghai.
Stefanos Tsitsipas impressed when winning in Stockholm last week but mentally that will have taken plenty out of him and trying to go back-to-back will be a new experience to deal with.
Finally Stan Wawrinka, another Swiss hero, has never really shone here with two semi-finals his best effort. After showing some good signs of late, I chanced him in Shanghai where it was too quick. This venue won’t favour him either.
You could try to take Federer on with one of early opponents – Filip Krajinovic is no gimme first up and I’d expect Jan-Lennard Struff (not Millman) to follow in round two. However, neither has ever taken even a set off Federer.
Fully aware of the dangers, I’m still more than happy to back Federer in his backyard at 11/4.
Roger Federer at
Erste Bank Open – Vienna, Austria (indoor hard)
Vienna officials chose to slow down conditions in 2015 when they introduced a Rebound Ace surface and I continue to be surprised to see the likes of John Isner and Kevin Anderson choose this event over Basel.
Both men have been drawn into the bottom half where there looks an opportunity for someone to go well at a big price.
The other seeds are Borna Coric and Kyle Edmund. Both have enjoyed recent success – Coric making the final in Shanghai and Edmund winning his first ATP title in Antwerp.
But conditions here will be nothing like Shanghai, while Edmund, like Tsitsipas, faces a new experience this week in turning around quickly and going again after a major career achievement.
Edmund’s first-round opponent, Diego Schwartzman, warranted consideration. He also played in Antwerp last week in similar conditions – he has twice made the final there.
One of the best returners on tour, he should be able to get stuck into the big servers if he comes across them here but 12/1 looks a bit short to me.
I’ll therefore throw some small change at Philipp Kohlschreiber in this section after he returned from an injury lay-off last week to make the Stockholm quarters, losing only to eventual champ Tsitsipas.
He’s liked this venue over the years and while most of his good results in Vienna came on the old Opticourt surface, he did make the semis 12 months ago.
He starts against defending champion Lucas Pouille, who has been out of sorts for some time now, and could then be the man to take down Coric – they are level at 2-2 on the head-to-head, Kohlschreiber winning their only hardcourt meeting.
Kohli could surprise a few at 66/1.
I’ll also take a shot in the top half with Fabio Fognini, a player I mentioned in last week’s preview.
I opted out of backing him in Stockholm due to an injury cloud but he shook that off to reach the last four and conditions here should suit him better.
The Italian is in the same quarter as Grigor Dimitrov, another player who is in a bit of a rut right now, with top seed Dominic Thiem a potential semi-final foe.
Local hero Thiem does not have a good record in front of his home fans though, just one quarter-final in seven appearances with only two matches won at this event in the last four years.
He doesn’t produce his best indoors and looks a poor 8/1 chance. Fognini beat him on his favoured clay in Rome earlier this year and could well repeat the trick if they meet again.
At 16/1, Fognini is worth a small-stakes bet.
Fabio Fognini at
Philipp Kohlschreiber e.w. at