Andy Schooler tipped the winners in both Rotterdam and New York last season – no pressure for 2020 then. Here are his ATP tennis betting tips for this week’s action.
ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament
Rotterdam, Netherlands (indoor hard)
Another field packed with quality has been assembled in Rotterdam by tournament director Richard Krajicek and it looks a tricky one to assess with confidence.
The defending champion is Gael Monfils, a winner for this column 12 months ago, but he arrives on the back of a title run in Montpellier.
Some will take that as a positive but I’d be concerned – Monfils has never won twice in two weeks and the Frenchman’s brittle body may well be aching if he does progress to the business end of proceedings.
Oppose the favourite
I’m happy to swerve him at 8/1 and I’ll also take on favourite Daniil Medvedev who, like Monfils, is drawn in the top half.
He has much to live up to after an impressive run during the second half of last season and I was somewhat disappointed by him in Australia where he lost in the last 16 to Stan Wawrinka.
His draw here is tough – Montpellier runner-up Vasek Pospisil is Medvedev’s first opponent, while a semi-finalist from that French event, Filip Krajinovic, could follow.
The Russian is capable of winning here, no doubt, but with that draw I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fall early. Basically, 3/1 looks very short.
The player I do like in that top section is Medvedev’s compatriot Karen Khachanov at 14/1.
He is in Monfils’ quarter and looks a dangerous unseeded player – he faces Fabio Fognini first up.
Khachanov has started the season pretty well, winning four of his five singles at the ATP Cup before being edged out in a marathon Australian Open third-round encounter by Nick Kyrgios having held match point.
— Karen Khachanov (@karenkhachanov) February 8, 2020
Given three of his four titles have come under a roof, the move indoors should be beneficial, no matter the speed of the courts.
Krajicek has opted for a new black-coloured Proflex surface this year and has suggested it will play slower than in previous years.
However, Khachanov has won in Moscow before, an event played on a pretty stodgy court, while he’s also won in much faster conditions in Paris.
In a decent section of the draw, Khachanov has a good chance to build on a good start to 2020 and looks worth backing.
The bottom half really does look hard to call with any number of players capable of reaching the final.
David Goffin (runner-up in 2017 and semi-finalist in 2018) has gone well here in the past, while Roberto Bautista Agut is never one to write off and if conditions are slightly slower, that should work to his advantage.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the man seeded to make the final but he’s won just two of five matches so far this year and, like Medvedev, has it tough from the start.
Hubert Hurkacz is his first opponent and the Pole’s form is contrasting.
As I mentioned in last week’s preview, he enjoyed the early weeks of the season beating Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric and Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Cup before reaching the last four in Auckland.
He beat Tsitsipas last summer in Montreal and a repeat here would hardly rank as a major surprise.
Even if the Greek gets through that, he could face an awkward meeting with Benoit Paire in round two. The mercurial Frenchman is never one to trust greatly but he’s also started 2020 well, bar a predictable post-holiday loss in Pune last week.
— ABN AMRO WTT (@abnamrowtt) February 7, 2020
He had two wins in the ATP Cup group stages and made the final in Auckland before losing to Marin Cilic at the Australian Open. All three defeats came by the narrowest of margins – in a final-set tie-break.
That’s a nod to his mental frailty but Paire is certainly capable of going well here.
For those looking for a long shot, backing Hurkacz or Paire has its merits – both are available at 50/1 – but in this tricky part of the draw I’m going to opt out on this occasion.
New York Open
New York, USA (indoor hard)
Fine margins decided last year’s New York Open – won by my 18/1 tip Reilly Opelka from championship point down.
An electronic line call which ruled a Brayden Schnur shot out by millimetres proved vital at the end of a week in which big serves ruled in quick conditions. Break chances were often at a premium.
Raonic too short
It’s likely to be a similar scenario this year – one or two points at vital times deciding some matches – and it’s that reason which puts me off backing Milos Raonic at 5/2.
The Canadian impressed at the Australian Open, holding serve throughout his first four matches before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
If he serves like that here, he will be tough to beat, but in an event where an error in a tie-break could prove so costly, backing someone at that price isn’t for me.
That was a tall order, but Reilly Opelka gets it done!
Opelka edges Schnur 6-1, 6-7(7), 7-6(7) to win the first @ATP_Tour title of his career right here in NY! pic.twitter.com/TL6tSIjXmp
— #NYOpen (@NewYorkOpen) February 17, 2019
Alternatives in the bottom half include Ugo Humbert, a player whose indoor game I praised last week only for him to deliver a miserable performance in Montpellier.
He was 28/1 last week; this time he’s 10/1. I can live with it if he does win as there’s no value in his price now.
Some may also side with Schnur given how he played here 12 months ago. He’s 80/1 but lacks even the Challenger form he brought in last season.
Rock on Tommy
Instead I want to side with Tommy Paul.
He’s been on the radar since the early weeks of the campaign when, as a qualifier, he won 10 sets in a row in Adelaide en route to the semi-finals.
The American backed that up with five-set victory over seed Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open.
It was eyecatching form and now back on home soil – born in New Jersey this is basically his home tournament – Paul will look to build on that.
Maybe it will be a tad fast for the 22-year-old, who faces sixth seed Miomir Kecmanovic first and also has Humbert in his quarter.
However, I’m prepared to take a chance on the improving youngster at 18/1 given what we saw Down Under.
In the top half, I feel the big-serving former champion Kevin Anderson is a big enough price to support.
He boasts a similar game to Raonic but is available at a much bigger 17/2.
The South African had plenty of injury issues last season but began this year with two ATP Cup group wins and a two tie-breaks defeat to Novak Djokovic.
At the Australian Open he lost in five sets to Taylor Fritz, fading late on, probably due to fitness issues after a five-setter in the previous round too.
New York Open singles draw pic.twitter.com/aWqmiEKpqv
— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) February 8, 2020
Fitness is unlikely to be an issue this week – it’s hard to see many matches lasting much past the two-hour mark – and Anderson’s numbers against his main rivals in this section look strong.
Over the past 12 months, Anderson has broken serve 16