ATP tennis betting expert Andy Schooler landed a 10/1 winner last week at the Shanghai Masters. Here are his picks for this week’s events in Moscow, Antwerp, and Stockholm, including a 100/1 shot.
VTB Kremlin Cup
Moscow, Russia (indoor hard)
Daniil Medvedev rewarded my faith in Shanghai last week to deliver a 10/1 winner for this column and this week he’s back home in Russia, bidding to continue his remarkable run of form.
That’s now taken in six successive finals and so it’s no surprise to see him going off pretty short to win in Moscow – he’s just 6/5.
Given only one other player in the top 20 will be present – his compatriot and defending champion Karen Khachanov – many will be happy to play at the price but there has to be a concern about Medvedev running out of steam at some point given just how much tennis he’s played since the summer hardcourt season began.
Given his form, Medvedev has a genuine chance of winning the season-ending ATP Finals in London but if he wants to do so he surely can’t keep playing final after final in the next few weeks – he’s signed up to play in Vienna and Paris before London.
Yes, winning is a habit but keeping the body in shape is an important aspect.
I’m therefore not wanting to get involved with Medvedev and can happily take on second seed Khachanov too.
Yes, he’s the defending champ but that brings its own pressures and in any case the venue has changed this year. With the Olympic Stadium being renovated, this season’s event will be played at the Krylatskoe Ice Palace, albeit on the same TP Surface Competition courts.
The new father did make the semis in Beijing recently but he’s been very up and down this season and last month’s visit to his homeland brought an early defeat in St Petersburg.
Indoor specialist can shine
In Khachanov’s half I’m going to take a chance on a player who has often performed well on indoor hard, namely Ricardas Berankis.
Most of the Lithuanian’s best results have come indoors and he’s been a strong performer on the TP Surface in Moscow since it was laid in 2016.
In 2017 he was the runner-up and while he was beaten in the quarter-finals last season, losing in three sets to Medvedev was hardly a bad result – one he actually reversed earlier this season in Dubai.
Admittedly, Berankis hasn’t consistently beaten players of that calibre – he would be much shorter than 50/1 were that the case – but he was mightily close to taking down Andrey Rublev in St Petersburg last month.
He’s already won two titles on indoor hard on the Challenger Tour this year and definitely looks worth taking a chance on at the price.
Bub can lik rivals
In the top half, I have similar thoughts about Alexander Bublik at 33/1.
He’s another to have won two Challengers indoors this season and he’s also got some decent form on the main tour as well.
He’s reached the final of two of these ‘250’ level events since Wimbledon, finishing runner-up on the grass of Newport and the hardcourts of Chengdu.
The 6ft 6in star’s serve was in fine working order in Chengdu, producing 125 aces in just five matches as he beat both Grigor Dimitrov and Taylor Fritz, and while conditions here seem unlikely to aid that delivery so well, there’s no doubt the serve will still be a major weapon.
He’s made the quarter-finals in Moscow in two of the last three years and without doubt has improved this season.
Tip: Ricardas Berankis - Each Way50/1
Tip: Alexander Bublik - Each Way33/1
Antwerp, Belgium (indoor hard)
The conditions are also on the slow side in Antwerp, the Belgian city which has been home to the European Open since 2016.
Previous winners have tended to come from the upper echelons of the betting market – Kyle Edmund won as favourite last season, while before that it was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet.
The name notably missing from that list if tournament poster boy David Goffin.
The home hope is again a short price (4/1) this year but he’s yet to go beyond the semis here.
In the bottom half I’d prefer to back Diego Schwartzman, twice a finalist and once beaten in the last four. That’s a considerably stronger record and he’s also a bigger price (6/1).
However, his form wasn’t the best in Asia and while the conditions will suit the great returner, I can leave him be at 6s.
Tsonga can thrive
Instead the man I like here is the aforementioned Tsonga, a player always at home indoors.
Yes, he’d probably like the courts to be a tad quicker but as he showed two years ago, that shouldn’t bother him much.
Thirteen of Tsonga’s 18 tour titles have come on indoor hard, as have eight of his 12 runner-up efforts.
This year he’s won two of the four tournaments he’s contested at main-tour level on indoor hard, lifting the trophy in both Metz (last month) and Montpellier.
He could have to beat Stan Wawrinka and joint-favourite Gael Monfils to make the final which probably explains why he’s out at 8/1.
However, that price still looks perfectly fair to me.
In terms of outsiders, I did try hard to find an alternative in the bottom half but struggled to see past one of Goffin, Schwartzman and the fast-improving Andy Murray reaching the final. All are 8/1 or shorter.
The best I can come up with is Jannik Sinner, the rising Italian star, who I mentioned on these pages a few weeks ago.
He could well prove a tricky first opponent for top seed Monfils, who has struggled rather of late and has one of those playing in quicker conditions in Shanghai only last week.
The teenager, another to have won indoors at Challenger level in 2019, faces a qualifier first up and will be a lot shorter than 100/1 should he then upset Monfils.
I can’t resist throwing a few pennies at the youngster at 100/1 despite the fact he’s in the same half as Tsonga.
Tip: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win8/1
Tip: Jannik Sinner - Each Way100/1
Intrum Stockholm Open
Stockholm, Sweden (indoor hard)
The fastest conditions of the week are expected to be on show in the Swedish capital.
They’ve played on Greenset in the last two years with the two champions both possessing big serves – Stefanos Tsitsipas and Juan Martin Del Potro. Tomas Berdych is another to have enjoyed plenty of success in Stockholm over the years.
That immediately brings towering American Reilly Opelka into play.
He should be an ace machine in these conditions. That was certainly the case the last time he played on indoor hard, at the New York Open in February when he delivered an 18/1 winner for this column.
Opelka has been in decent form during the Asian swing, reaching the semi-finals in Tokyo where the courts were again helpful to his huge serve.
Admittedly I was hoping for a tad more than 9/1 but it’s still a price I’m prepared to take.
Yes, Opelka is in the same quarter as top seed and co-favourite Fabio Fognini (6/1) but while the Italian has been in good form of late, winning a feisty match with Andy Murray in Shanghai en route to the quarter-finals, regular readers will know he’s never been one to trust at a short price.
After a change of continent and having gone from outdoors to indoors, I feel this is definitely a week to take on the hot-headed talent.
Joao Sousa (25/1) has potential for those looking for someone bigger in the top half. The Portuguese has made finals on indoor hard in the past and conjured up a run to the last four in St Petersburg last month where he beat Karen Khachanov.
My feeling is he’ll find things a bit quick here, although having said that he did made the quarter-finals in Chengdu, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime along the way.
Millman a value pick
However, my long shot for this event comes from the bottom half, namely John Millman.
The Australian should like what he finds in Stockholm and he’s been in good form having made the last four in Tokyo during the Asian swing where conditions are also fairly fast.
He also won a Challenger indoors during his spell in Asia so should bring plenty of confidence with him to Europe.
Critics will point out his heavy loss last week to Andrey Rublev in Shanghai but by all accounts the enigmatic Russian was on one of his best days and it may well have been a case of a lot of tennis, plus travelling, catching up with Millman.
He should be ready to go against Pablo Carreno Busta in round one.
That’s a tricky opener, no doubt, and I did consider the in-form PCB in the outright market too.
However, his record indoors is not the best and he’s another who could find things too quick here.
Millman is 1-1 with the Spaniard on the head-to-head and his form gives him a good chance of edging ahead in that battle.
Pablo Andujar or a qualifier would follow before a potential quarter-final with Grigor Dimitrov, a former champion here.
The Bulgarian is one of those co-favourites but he’s very hit and miss and so taking him on in this section with 33/1 Millman is my suggestion.