In his latest tennis betting preview, Derek Bilton is on hand with tips from the Rotterdam, New York and Argentina events.
A quality field has assembled for the latest edition of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, which looks pretty open this year after 2018 winner Roger Federer decided against a Netherlands return to defend his crown.
Kei Nishikori is top seed and joint favourite in the betting, but he’s got a rough draw and may struggle against a very capable indoors operator in Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert first up.
The Japanese star had another decent campaign in 2018, but was poor in his last showing indoors at the ATP World Tour Finals, failing to build on a win over Federer as he slipped out at the group stage after back-to-back defeats to Kevin Anderson and Dominic Thiem.
Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic are all in his half, so it’s tough to get excited about current 6/1 quotes.
Canadian ace machine Raonic is also 6/1, while Berdych may tempt some punters at 12s after his decent run in Montpellier. To be fair there are several likely title contenders but Karen Khachanov catches the eye at a big price in the opposite half of the draw.
Khachanov looks destined to crack the world’s top 10 this season and even allowing for the fact he crashed out of the Sofia Open last week to little known Italian Matteo Berrettini, he’s definitely worth siding with here. Khachanov’s win on indoor hard courts at the Paris Masters at the end of 2018 raised expectations, and if he performs at even 80% of the level he was in Paris he would be a stick on for victory.
Over the pond the New York Open also takes place this week, a tournament dominated by John McEnroe back in the 1970s has 1980s. Johnny Mac was a five-time winner here and there’s a heavy American presence in this year’s draw.
It would be interesting to find hear what McEnroe, always outspoken and with a tongue that can still slash like a lock knife, really feels about the current vintage of US players, who have not really been pulling up many trees since Andy Roddick retired.
Indeed there’s been just one American winner of this event (Ryan Harrison) in the last decade but that could all change this week in a draw loaded with US players. John Isner is top seed but the big man hardly inspires confidence after rocking up to a Challenger event last week in Dallas as a doubles partner for Alex Kuznetsov. He’s never won in New York either and is not getting any younger at the age of 33.
A better shout could be young gunslinger Frances Tiafoe. The 21-year-old has replaced crocked defending champion Kevin Anderson in the draw and started his season in positive fashion with a run to the last eight at the Australian Open, where Rafael Nadal eventually proved too good.
He won his first ATP title at the Delray Beach Open in 2018 and clearly relishes playing on home soil. The Floridian won the coveted Orange Bowl in 2013 at the age of just 15, making him the youngest champion in the history of the tournament.
Tiafoe’s playing style is reminiscent of a young Roddick. Huge serve. Powerful forehand. Tendency to keep the points short. He may end up being a better returner than Roddick when the dust eventually settles on his career, but he’s a player to keep an eye on and looks worth a punt here at 9/2.
In South America the ‘Golden Swing’ continues and Dominic Thiem is a warm order in the betting at the Argentina Open. The Austrian is clearly a massive talent and a class operator on clay when he’s at his best.
He’s won this event twice in the past three seasons but it’s been a long time since he’s showed any level of consistency on the Tour, so with this in mind he looks a bit short (he’s just 6/5 to win with Betfair).
Both Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman bombed in Cordoba last week, but at the prices it might be worth giving Fognini another chance. The Italian won Sao Paulo last season (one of three titles on clay) and, having also won the Vina del Mar in Chile (2014), he knows what it takes to win on clay in Latin America. At 6/1, he looks the most realistic alternative to the erratic Thiem.
Bilko’s Banker: Karen Khachanov to win the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at 9/1 (bet365/888 Sport)
Best of the Rest #1: Frances Tiafoe to win the New York Open at 9/2 (Betfair)
Best of the Rest #2: Fabio Fognini to win the Argentina Open at 6/1 (bet365)
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