The three-week Asian swing – which is usually a lot of fun – gets underway with a pair of ATP 250 events in China this week and Derek Bilton is on hand with his handy tennis betting tips.
John Isner and Felix Auger-Aliassime are the top two seeds in Chengdu and both have the type of scud-missile serve to do real damage. As you would expect Isner is towards the head of the betting but there are enough question marks hanging over him for us to swerve the top seed this week.
Bernard Tomic was a stunning, big price winner here last season and to be fair since its inception in 2016 a top seed has yet to prevail. Isner and Denis Shapovalov both arrive here straight after the Laver Cup so may not be in peak condition, while Auger-Aliassime’s recent form is a worry.
British hope Dan Evans will take on the Chinese Wild Card Yan Bai (ranked 225 in the world) in the first round and there’s every reason to think he could come through that. However, Evans won’t like the humidity in China and I can’t see him going all the way this week.
Instead let us try Grigor Dimitrov, whose season turned right around in New York as he took out Roger Federer to reach the semi-finals of the US Open.
The former world No 3 had not done a lot in 2019 to that point but that Federer win seemed like a moment (the then world No 78 entered the season’s final Grand Slam having lost seven of eight matches) and the hope is he can kick on here in China.
We all know about his quality. In 2017, he reeled in a maiden ATP Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open, and then went on to triumph at the Nitto ATP Finals. At his best, Dimitrov is capable of beating any player on any day and now he is putting the graft in off court again it’s reaping big rewards.
He would likely face Evans first up and while they are locked at 1-1 in terms of career meetings Dimitrov would start any such match as a warm betting favourite. Dimitrov uses a classic eastern forehand grip and the suave Bulgarian has a fine backhand and piercing serve when he’s on. If he can replicate even 80% of the hot form he showed at Flushing Meadows this week it would likely prove too good for this field so 6/1 looks a bet.
Over in Zhuhai, Stefanos Tsitsipas again goes off as a short price favourite. However the Greek has endured a torrid summer and was also involved in Laver Cup action over the weekend. It’s asking a lot of him to play in Europe on the Sunday then head off to China and take this down. With this in mind odds of 7/2 look criminally short about a player who is big on talent but short on form.
At first glance 12/1 odds on Nick Kyrgios look tasty but he was on Laver Cup duty as well over the weekend and pulled out of Sunday’s match with a supposed shoulder injury. Gael Monfils has eight ATP singles titles and for a player regarded as something of a loose cannon, who has also been unlucky with injury in a long and colourful career, that’s not a bad return. He’s not played since the US Open though and despite a decent showing in New York should really have beaten Matteo Berrettini in that quarter-final.
Instead I’m going to go for another Frenchman this week who looks a spot of value in Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino finally broke his ATP title duck this year after landing S-Hertogenbosch, and the crafty lefties could give us a run for our money here if he can get past Tsitsipas, who is his projected R2 opponent.
Mannarino lost his first five tour-level matches of the year, but has been pretty consistent since then and has the game to go well on outdoor hard courts. He is 28/1 with bet365 so punters should jump on the 50/1 Paddy Power are offering while they can.
Bilko’s Banker: Grigor Dimitrov to win the Chengdu Open at 6/1 (Paddy Power)
Best of the Rest: Adrian Mannarino each-way to win the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships at 50/1 (Paddy Power)
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