ATP Tennis Betting: Big-serving Opelka can cause problems for Young

It’s quarter finals day in Georgia, USA on Friday, with semi final places up for grabs at the ATP 250 BB&T Atlanta Open.

We enjoyed the perfect start to Thursday’s wagers in Atlanta when Horacio Zeballos easily covered the -1.5 game handicap in a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tobias Kamke to secure the ‘value bet’.

Then ‘long shot’ backers were rewarded after Wednesday’s hard luck when Yoshihito Nishioka took down Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets, with the Japanese player cruising through the decider 6-1 over a dispirited Dolgo.

The clean sweep was completed when Fernando Verdasco landed the ‘sure thing’ with a straight sets win over Julien Benneteau.

It’s set to be hot and humid again today in Atlanta, with the dial hitting the mid-30s and humidity in the mid-50s, so another tough day is in prospect for the eight remaining players. 

Reilly Opelka vs Donald Young

We’ve gone against Young every time so far this week and how fortunate has the Atlanta local been in getting through to this stage of his home tournament? 

Austin Krajicek should have beaten him and was a 1.1 chance to do so at 5-2 up in the final set of their round one encounter, while Tim Smyczek was a 1.02 shot when a set and 3-0 (double break) up against Young in round two.

At around 22:00 UK time tonight (17:00 local) Young faces another tricky challenge that he’s too short in price for as a 1.25 chance against a very similar style of player to John Isner, who Young has lost to four times and won one set in nine against. 

One can’t help but be reminded of Isner when watching Opelka, with his serve bounding down from 6’11” in height and Young has won only three of his last 17 matches against opponents who are over 6’4” in height. 

Indeed, Young has lost 12 of his last 17 against the big servers on my database, and with a mediocre service hold mark on hard courts at main level of 75.3 percent in the last year he’ll come under much pressure to hold tonight.

Opelka also came from a seemingly impossible situation against Kevin Anderson in round two, but although he was helped out by some rancid serving from Anderson, who delivered 14 double faults, he did break the South African four times and created 18 break point opportunities. 

In a small sample of only five matches at main level on hard courts Opelka has held serve 92.9 percent of the time and he looks set to be the next generation’s Isner for sure.  

Young has only been a sub-1.30 favourite at main level five times in his career and although he’s won them all the highest ranked of them was 272 in the world and rest were between 300 and 400 in the rankings.  

This is a far tougher proposition and the 3.95 on an Opelka win or the over 0.5 tie breaks at 1.84 are the ones of interest here.

Fernando Verdasco vs Nick Kyrgios

It’s never easy betting on a Kyrgios match, such can be the variance in his level of effort, but the 1.96 about a tie break in this clash with Verdasco looks decent. 

Verdasco didn’t face a break point against Benneteau last night, winning 84 percent of the points on his first serve, while Kyrgios had a similar mark against Jared Donaldson, with 85 percent of first serve points won. 

The Aussie still needed a tie break to beat the relatively weak-serving American and as NK said himself after that match: “

Their service hold stats are similar over the last year at main level on hard courts, with Verdasco holding 81.9 percent of the time and Kyrgios just slightly better at 82.7 percent.

They’ve met twice in the past at all levels – once in NK’s backyard at the Hopman Cup at exhibition level when Verdasco won 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 – and once at Masters 1000 level in Montreal when Kyrgios was a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 winner.  

So they’ve been tight contests and providing Kyrgios is giving something like his best effort tonight another close one seems likely and a tie break a distinct possibility.  

John Isner vs Taylor Fritz
This all-American clash at around 01:00 UK time (20:00 local) sees Isner face Fritz for the first time and while I’d expect an Isner win I’m not sure it’ll be as comfortable as 1.21 suggests. 

Isner won 10 games in a row and recorded only his fourth career bagel in the last round, but that was against a tanking Adrian Mannarino, who hates playing Isner, and I’d fancy Fritz will put up sterner resistance here.

The 18-year-old prospect has faced the big servers in my database five times so far in his career and four have been very keenly contested affairs, with Fritz beating Steve Johnson earlier on this season in Memphis in two tie breaks.

He was a 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 loser to the in-form Ivo Karlovic in Toronto last week, while he went the full five sets with Jack Sock in Melbourne and lost in a deciding set to Sam Querrey in Acapulco – both matches were this year. 

His service hold mark in the last year at main level is a decent 85.4 percent and he breaks almost twice as often as Isner, with a 23.8 percent record compared to Isner’s 12.7. 

Of course Isner leads comfortably in holding his own serve at 93.8 percent, but he did get broken by Mannarino, and although he’ll probably win this one at an event he loves it may not be by much.

Over 21.5 games looks the one for ‘sure thing’ backers today, with the over 0.5 tie breaks at 1.32 another possibility.  

Best Bets
Sure thing: Back over 21.5 games in Isner/Fritz at 1.21
Value bet: Back over 0.5 tie breaks in Verdasco/Kyrgios at 1.96 
Long shot: Back Opelka to beat Young at 3.95