With the top young players in tennis missing in Milan for a variety of reasons, Derek Bilton sees an opportunity to beat the bookies once again on the tennis betting markets…
The third edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals kicks off on Tuesday at the Allianz Cloud in Milan. The event has seen a few high profile withdrawals over the last couple of weeks with defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas ruling out a title defence having qualified for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London, and Denis Shapovalov deciding to skip Milan after reaching the final of the recent Paris Masters.
It’s still a pretty exciting field though with Alex de Minaur, Frances Tiafoe, Miomir Kemanovic, Casper Ruud, Ugo Humbert, Mikael Ymer, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Jannik Sinner all going for gold.
For the first time ever on the ATP Tour, competitors will be permitted to use wearable technology in competition during the Finals. Not sure what Dan Maskell would have made of GPS receivers and inertial sensors, but the Next Gen Finals prides itself on being a unique tournament that has always embraced new technologies. It’s over a best-of-five set format remember, with shorter sets to 4 (tie-break at 3-All) and No-Ad scoring. Happily this season they’ve done away with the ‘No Let’ rule after complaints from players.
As usual it will be two group of four and players in each group will contest three round-robin matches, with the two highest finishers advancing from each group into the semi-finals.
Alex de Minaur is a clear favourite in the betting and on recent evidence looks an absolute banker. ‘Demon’ finished runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas last November in Milan, and will look to go one better this year.
The 20-year-old top seed has enjoyed a fabulous season, winning three ATP titles and cracking the world’s top 20 to boot. The Australian star rose to a career-high ATP ranking of 18th when making the final in Basel recently, and while he was convincingly beaten 6-2 6-2 by Roger Federer in Switzerland his game is clearly in good order. He kicks off against Davidovich Fokina and will start as a very warm favourite to win that contest.
It’s been a pretty remarkable and meteoric season for the Aussie when you consider he missed two months of it with a groin injury. He’s proved he can hang with the very best on the ATP Tour this term, so don’t be surprised if he goes 5-0 this week en route to the title (just like Tsitsipas did as the short price betting favourite in 2018).
Frances Tiafoe looks the obvious threat in Group B, but the big American’s season seems to have fizzled out somewhat after an impressive start to 2019 (he reached the last eight at the Australian Open and the Miami Masters). In these indoor conditions, and with the abbreviated format, Tiafoe could obviously do some damage but he’s struggled to find any sort of consistency in the latter half of the season and seems a bit short at 5/1 with bet365 and Paddy Power.
We do however like the look of Jannik Sinner. Sinner has improved his ranking over 1,000 spots over the last 14 months and looks to have one hell of a future. He is currently the youngest player in the top 100, and the tournament’s wild card has the game and crucially the momentum to really put on a show in Milan. Born in northern Italy, his name will be cheered the loudest all week and he’s showed enough quality in his performances this season to suggest he can qualify for the semis at the very least.
Indeed Sinner beat Tiafoe indoors in Antwerp just a few weeks ago so looks a big price at 9/4 to top Group B, with France’s Humbert looking perhaps the biggest danger to him from that group.
It’s set to be another thrilling week at the Fiera Milano, but we think Di Minaur will prove a class apart from the ‘Next Gen’ and end a very productive year on a high.
Bilko’s Banker: Alex de Minaur to win the ATP Next Gen Finals at 21/10 (Paddy Power)
Best of the Rest: Jannik Sinner to win Group B at 9/4 (bet365)
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