ATP New Zealand
Klein VS Bagnis
Very happy to side with the Aussie-turned-Brit today as he comes up against Argentine Bagnis on hardcourt in New Zealand.
Klein just hasn’t quite taken off since his Australian Open junior title all those years ago. That being said, he is coming up against a player who has only played two hardcourt matches since the start of 2016, with a retirement loss in Rd 1 of the US Open, and a 3 set loss to Dustin Brown in Doha last week.
Klein on the other hand put together some decent Challenger performances on hardcourt across the latter half of 2016. Wins over Tiafoe, Bemelmens, Halys and Sandgren to name a few, as well as a number of close 3 set losses.
I’d argue if Bagnis wasn’t in the top 120, he may have not even come out to Australia for the summer swing as hardcourt just isn’t his specialty. As a nearly 27 year old, Bagnis has only played 33 matches on hardcourt for his career, winning 10. I think this is a perfect opportunity for Klein to make an impact on an ATP level match to kick off his 2017.
3 units Klein to defeat Bagnis at $2.07 at Pinnacle
Paire vs De Minaur
If you cast an eye over Benoit Paire’s performances in the first round when backing up the week after a semi final result, you’ll see why I am heading down this path.
Paire can struggle at times to back up from a long week at another location, and this may in fact be exacerbated by the fact that Paire either doesn’t generally play the week before a Slam, or doesn’t perform particularly well if he does turn up.
Since the week before Wimbledon 2014, Paire holds a 1-6 record in matches the week before a Grand Slam, with the only win coming against Michael Venus (ranked 679) in a close 2 set match.
De Minaur put together a very solid week last week, with the main difference between himself and Zverev that made the difference in the end was the power of Zverev in key moments, notably on serve. De Minaur won’t feel so outmatched here against Paire, and to me is a great chance of causing quite an upset to start the Sydney tournament.
3.5 units De Minaur to defeat Paire at $2.54 at Sportsbet
Mahut vs Cuevas
All of a sudden that 2-6 4-6 loss to Dimitrov in Brisbane doesn’t seem as bad when you consider just how well Dimitrov was playing last week to win the title.
I’m siding with the player who is far more comfortable on hardcourt, as well as already having some matches under his belt for 2017 on hard.
Mahut did what he needed to in round 1, comfortably handling an out of sorts Bellucci in straight sets. Cuevas, although financially assisted by the bye, is at a disadvantage as he finds himself playing his first hardcourt match for 2017.
I’m more than happy to side with Mahut here, Cuevas had a poor finish to 2016, and his ranking is courtesy of his proficiency on clay court, so I will look to the Frenchman to get the job done here.
3 units Mahut to defeat Cuevas at $1.90 at Sportsbet
ATP Canberra Challenger
Falla vs Kelly
This one is a touch from left field however it is at a price I am more than happy to play.
Although he lost 8-10 in the fifth set in his wildcard playoff match against Sam Groth, Kelly really impressed me with his game overall. He looks to have made improvements in his court movement, his consistency in his backhand as well as a bit more grunt on his first serve (that is a subjective observation from watching without being able to track speeds). Amongst a bit of a rollercoaster of performances late in the year, he did push Jordan Thompson in a tight three-setter (who was arguably one of the form players of the Challenger circuit late last year).
Falla is coming off four matches last week, however would have to be disappointed in only being able to muster 3 games against Adrian Mannarino to cap off the week. A former top 100 player, Falla has fallen quite a way, with his ranking now residing in the 300’s
At home and against a player coming off an uncharacteristically long week for him in comparison to his last year, I am happy to side with Kelly here at the juicy odds of $2.65 to get the job done in Canberra.
2 units Kelly to defeat Falla at $2.65 at Unibet
Other plays to consider (stay tuned to Twitter as I am still considering them too! Keep an eye on @Ace_TheProfits)
1. I did initially like the look of Putintseva to beat Wozniacki at over $4, and it is a play I will consider across the morning.
2. Pavlyuchenkova represents a very tricky matchup for Kuznetsova
3. Cepede Royg at $4.50+ to defeat Petkovic looks a massive price.
4. Khachanov a big chance to beat Lu in Auckland (am still considering a play here)