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The week before a Grand Slam tournament always has the potential for betting value – Andy Schooler is on hand to seek it out and deliver his ATP tennis betting tips for Adelaide and Auckland.

Adelaide International: Adelaide, Australia (outdoor hard)

The ATP Tour returns to Adelaide for the first time since 2008 this week, the action beginning in the early hours of Sunday UK time.

Only three main-draw matches are being staged on the opening day with the action picking up on Monday.

Novak Djokovic was the winner here in 2007 and 13 years on had been set to go off a heavy favourite but, to no-one’s great surprise, the Serb withdrew at the weekend following his exertions at the ATP Cup.

That leaves home hope Alex de Minaur as top seed but he could well go the same way as Djokovic after Australia made the semis of the aforementioned team competition.

Oppose De Minaur

De Minaur played some good stuff and would be a rightful favourite were he guaranteed to a) be here; and b) give his all.

But having pushed world number one Rafael Nadal to his limits in Sydney on Saturday, he’ll be looking ahead to next week’s Australian Open thinking he has a real chance of making a big impact.

De Minaur won in Sydney in this week last year but he’s now in a position to challenge for the game’s top prizes and I can’t be backing him at 7/2 to win this.

Neither am I interested in second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who looked very much out of sorts last week when representing Canada and going 1-3 in singles.

Instead I’ll take him on the bottom quarter with a player who caught the eye much more at the ATP Cup, namely Jan-Lennard Struff.

The German was one of those to beat Auger-Aliassime as he went 2-1 in singles. He lost serve only twice in his three matches, including it once against Nick Kyrgios which proved the difference in a narrow loss.

Lots to like about Struff

That built on a strong end to the 2019 campaign, one which saw him climb to a career-high ranking of 33. A good week here could see him better that, so the motivation is there.

The hard, flat-hitting Struff made the quarter-finals in Basel (losing to De Minaur), the last 16 in Paris (beating defending champion Karen Khachanov before losing 7-6 in the third to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) and then played well at the Davis Cup Finals where he suffered two more final-set tie-break defeats.

It is worth noting that all of those events were played on a Greenset surface and that company is responsible for the courts in Adelaide.

Another tick in the positive column for Struff is the fact that this week last season he made the semi-finals in Auckland so was happy to give his all in the lead-up to a Slam. He’ll need to win matches here to defend the ranking points won 12 months ago and with the other potential benefits on offer in Adelaide, I’d expect the same again.

A quote of 18/1 looks more than fair.

PCB has motivation

Moving back to the top half, I like the look of Pablo Carreno Busta, another player who impressed during the second half of 2019.

The Spaniard won in Chengdu last autumn on outdoor hard, beating Denis Shapovalov, Benoit Paire and Cristian Garin en route.

The latter is a strong result in terms of this event as the pair are seeded to meet in the quarter-finals.

Before that he’ll have to beat either Gilles Simon or Jeremy Chardy but PCB holds a winning record over both men on hardcourts.

He looked in good nick at the ATP Cup when playing doubles – at time of writing (prior to the final) he’d won all five rubbers contested.

But what is also significant about his efforts in that event is that they have been confined to the doubles so he should be desperate for plenty of singles matches this week before heading to Melbourne.

With a first-round bye he’ll get a maximum of four which is probably just abut ideal for him in the circumstances.

In short, Carreno Busta looks a strong alternative to De Minaur in the top half and worth backing at 11/1.

Tip: Jan-Lennard Struff - Each Way
Tip: Pablo Carreno Busta - Each Way

ASB Classic Auckland: New Zealand (outdoor hard)

Tennys Sandgren winning in Auckland 12 months ago is a prime example of how big-priced winners can emerge immediately prior to a Grand Slam.

A year on, the surface has changed from Plexicushion to Greenset, although indications from last week’s WTA event suggest it hasn’t played significantly different.

Conditions are often windy at the New Zealand venue which has again attracted a decent field. It would have been stronger had Daniil Medvedev not withdrawn, but there will still be four top-20 players on show and plenty of young talent.

Shapovalov favourite

One player straddles both pools and Denis Shapovalov is the bookies’ favourite.

He could start against 2017 runner-up Joao Sousa, a tricky test, and that’s just one of the reasons that I’ll pass on the second seed at 3/1.  Most importantly he may not really want to still be here on Saturday with a match in Melbourne, where he will be seeded in the top 16, on Monday a possibility.

Fabio Fognini is the top seed but, with his short fuse, long-term readers will know he’s never one to get with at a short price – and he’s just 8/1 this week.

There are plenty of alternatives.

Teenager Jannik Sinner is a player I’ve mentioned on these pages in the past few months and his first-round match with Benoit Paire could produce the champion.

Sadly Sinner’s secret is out and the triple-figure prices on offer in the autumn won’t be seen again at this level. A player who lost in his opening match at a Challenger last week is just 16s here – too small.

Sandgren is back to defend his title, while last year’s runner-up, Briton Cameron Norrie, also returns.

Cup stars make appeal

However, my each-way picks go to Hubert Hurkacz and Casper Ruud.

At last week’s ATP Cup, both were carrying their nation’s team on their back but they certainly stepped up to the plate.

Let’s start with Hurkacz, the Pole who went unbeaten in singles play as he beat three members of the top 30 – Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric and Diego Schwartzman.

That’s strong form to be bringing to this particular table and he looks very much capable of taking down Fognini should they meet in the last eight, as they are seeded to do.

Hurkacz rose up the rankings in 2019, claiming no fewer than 11 top-50 wins. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Thiem were among his victims.

He won his maiden title in Winston-Salem – and it is very relevant that success came the week before a Grand Slam, in that case the US Open.

Hurkacz has little to fear here and at 10/1 looks worthy of support.

In Ruud health

As for Ruud, the young Norwegian has been drawn into the fourth quarter, close to Shapovalov, who is a potential quarter-final opponent.

He beat both Fognini and John Isner – a former champion here and a possible semi-final foe – at the ATP Cup in Perth and also put up a good fight against Medvedev.

“It’s been a great start to the year,” said the man himself, “and I’m looking forward for more.”

Ruud had some strong results on clay last season and it was those which were responsible for his appearance at the season-ending NextGen ATP Finals in Milan.

Hardcourt results few and far between but a training block at Rafael Nadal’s academy last month appears to have worked wonders.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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