Berankis can continue Struff’s struggles



High-profile players start their tournaments on Friday

With matches scheduled to begin at 1500 UK time this afternoon, we see a number of high profile players start their campaign including Alexander Zverev, who has arguably one of the most fascinating clashes today against the young Finnish prospect, Emil Ruusuvuori.

After some stunning results – and underlying data – on the Challenger Tour several years ago, Ruusuvuori is now starting to find his feet at main tour level and looks a better than average ATP Tour hard courter already, with plenty of potential future upside as well.

Ruusuvuori got past fellow high potential young player Carlos Alcaraz Garfia in round one, and could give Zverev a real test this afternoon if he’s playing close to his best level and the German third seed struggles. Zverev is 1.201/5 to win, but it’s going to be a good match to watch to get some further insight into the level where Ruusuvuori is at right now.

Medvedev unlikely to be troubled by Lu

Tournament favourite Daniil Medvedev also plays his first match in the tournament, with the Russian against Yen-Hsun Lu this afternoon. Medvedev is an overwhelming 1.021/50 favourite to win against a player who has barely played in the last three years – Lu is 1-4 since May 2018 with his solitary win against Sam Querrey here in a big shock in round one. If Lu beating Querrey was a big shock, defeating the best player in the field, Medvedev, would be a far greater surprise.

However, in our quest for value today we drop down the rankings and look at some of the lower-profile matches on the schedule.

Berankis looking generously priced against Struff

Jan-Lennard Struff is on a poor run of form, going 2-5 this season in main tour events with three of those losses coming as a 1.501/2 favourite or shorter.

He was comfortably beaten by Denis Shapovalov in Dubai last week, and this followed another comprehensive loss to David Goffin in Rotterdam in his previous tournament.

While it’s fair to say that today’s opponent, Ricardas Berankis, represents a downgrade in opposition quality to Shapovalov and Goffin, the Lithuanian is a solid hard courter and has already got a win under his belt here, with a straight-set win over Challenger Tour regular Federico Gaio in round one.

I’m pretty surprised to see Berankis as big as 3.052/1 here, with my numbers suggesting there’s not much between the duo for this match-up currently. He looks some value here and he’s today’s recommendation.

Basilashvili consistent with his inconsistency

Moving on, Nikoloz Basilashvili is a strange player to predict – the Georgian makes Fabio Fognini look the epitome of consistency. He went 0-9 last season after the tour resumed, and then 2-5 this season until the Doha 250 tournament several weeks ago. So after losing 14 of 16 matches in that time frame, he managed to drop just two sets en route to the title including beating Roger Federer and Roberto Bautista-Agut.

It’s impossible to know which version of Basilashvil we will get here. If we have an ‘average level’ performance – albeit this being something I’m not sure that he’s particularly capable of – he would look short at 1.664/6 against Mikael Ymer. The 22-year-old Swede, Ymer, easily defeated Alejandro Tabilo in round one and could be another underdog who looks a little value at a current 2.466/4.

Slower conditions reduce likelihood of tiebreaks

Finally, the slower conditions traditionally associated with this tournament mean that serve-orientated matches on the schedule are likely to be few and far between. In quicker conditions, the likelihood of a first-set tiebreak in the Alexei Popyrin versus Reilly Opelka match would be pretty high, but here I have this eventuality at about 40%. Likewise, Mackenzie McDonald versus John Isner, which is the around the 30% mark according to my model, but would be in excess of 50% in quicker conditions.

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