Tennis betting preview: 2/1 Dominic Thiem looks rock solid in Rio

Our tipster Derek Bilton is back with some handy tennis betting tips for this week’s ATP Tour events in Rio, Marseille and Delray Beach.

Hands up it was a poor week last week with all three of our selections biting the dust early doors. But as Charlie Chaplin once mused, ‘you’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down’. Hope springs eternal and we have three solid punting events to get stuck into this week in Rio, Marseille and Delray Beach.

The Rio Open is an ATP 500 event and will again feature the majority of the cast who’ve been active during the South American ‘Golden Swing’ so far this season.

Fabio Fognini is among the top seeds but after bombing last week in Buenos Aires while carrying our cash looks one to avoid. At times it seemed he was simply clowning around against Jaume Munar, throwing in some outrageously poor shots en route to a three-set defeat.

Diego Schwartzman could be emotionally and/or physically spent after losing in the final of Argentina’s biggest tournament, while it’s also unclear how motivated Marco Cecchinato will be after that brilliant 6-1 6-2 annihilation of home hope Schwartzman in Sunday’s final.

Therefore all signs point to Dominic Thiem, the top seed and favourite, as the most likely winner. Thiem should have put Schwartzman away in Buenos Aires, somehow blowing in despite having a match point. But he’s fit and has a stellar 10-2 career record in Rio, where he won in 2017.

At the Open 13 in Marseille conditions traditionally are on the quick side and top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas could be vulnerable again. The Greek youngster was sublime at the Australian Open but has bombed in two subsequent outings (Sofia and Rotterdam) and his game simply doesn’t match up as well indoors as it does on other surfaces.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is enjoying a renaissance but looks a bit short at 6/1 and could be jaded after his recent endeavours in Rotterdam. Borna Coric is also a 6/1 shot, but like Tsitsipas is a young talent whose game is perhaps more suited to less rapid conditions.

Karen Khachanov won Marseille as a 66/1 rag last season and given the question marks surrounding the top seeds it could pay to punt on another outsider.
Karen Khachanov reaction

Step forward Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian maverick is one of the game’s true characters, who on average probably breaks around 70 racquets a season. Notoriously volatile, his career has been dogged by controversy, indiscipline and sometimes outright boorish behaviour. However when he is ‘on’, Gulbis is capable of catching fire on a tennis court. You don’t win six ATP tournaments (or beat Roger Federer at the French Open for that matter) if you can’t play a bit.

He’s as low as 84 in the world these days, but ironically his last win on hard courts was here in Marseille in 2014. He silenced a hostile home crowd that day as he blasted past Tsonga in a pretty one-sided final. Knowing Gulbis, we know if he’s anything he’s impossibly inconsistent. However he showed that his game is actually in good working order by beating Marius Copil (a solid performer indoors) in Rotterdam last week before being knocked out by Stan Wawrinka. If he fancies this, 40/1 could simply look huge come the weekend.

Finally to Delray Beach, where Juan Martin Del Potro looks one to swerve. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ has not seen any ATP action since way back in October and it remains to be seen whether he is completely over the knee injury that’s been keeping him out. Big servers have thrived at this venue in recent years and Del Potro has one of the biggest, but it would be asking an awful lot of him to return with a win here and he looks suspiciously short at around the 7/2 mark.

If you fancy a dark horse in the US you could actually do worse than have a go at Taylor Fritz at 15/1. Fritz is a physically imposing guy, has a huge serve and having won four Challenger Tour titles it’s about time he had his hand raised on the main Tour.

The 21-year-old looked good in spells at the Australian Open, scoring a confidence-boosting win over Gael Monfils. He then took down the Newport Beach Challenger on an outdoor hard court a few weeks ago and ticks plenty of boxes this week. He should be too hot for compatriot Mackenzie McDonald in round one and if Del Potro falls away in the early rounds Fritz would have a real chance of making the final. It doesn’t punters hurt to know that an American has lifted the Delray Beach trophy in each of the last three years either.

Bilko’s Banker: Dominic Thiem to win the Rio Open at 2/1 (888 Sport)
Best of the Rest #1: Ernests Gulbis each-way to win Open 13 at 40/1 (888 Sport)
Best of the Rest #2: Taylor Fritz to win the Delray Beach Open at 15/1 (888 Sport)

Derek Bilton

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