Andy Schooler previews this week’s ATP Tour events in Marseille, Dallas and Cordoba, with a 70/1 shot among his picks.
Tennis betting tips: ATP Tour
1pt e.w. Ugo Humbert in Open 13 Provence at 12/1 (Betfred)
0.5pt e.w. Arthur Rinderknech in Open 13 Provence at 70/1 (BetVictor)
2pts win Ben Shelton in the Dallas Open at 9/2 (General)
1pt e.w. Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the Cordoba Open at 20/1 (General)
1pt e.w. Alejandro Tabilo in the Cordoba Open at 14/1 (bet365)
Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook
Open 13 Provence
- Marseille, France (indoor hard)
Marseille has traditionally provided some of the fastest conditions on the ATP Tour and so it could well pay to side with big servers and attack-minded players in the south of France this week.
That was certainly the case 12 months ago when Hubert Hurkacz lifted the trophy and the Pole is back to defend his title in 2024.
After a good showing at the Australian Open, where he reached the last eight before losing in five sets to Daniil Medvedev, it’s no surprise to see the Pole at the head of the market – he’s a best price of 5/1.
That’s definitely tempting. Conditions should suit, while his form is good.
However, it’s my raison d’etre to seek out the real value and on this occasion I think that lies with UGO HUMBERT, who is more than twice the price of Hurkacz.
Humbert has really rediscovered his mojo over the past six months, cracking the top 20 for the first time, and prominent in my thinking is how he performed during the tour’s last indoor swing back in the autumn.
During that period, the Frenchman made the semis in Basel, pushed Alex Zverev to a final-set tie-break in Paris before ending the season with the title in Metz – this column backed him that week at 11/2.
The field which has gathered in Marseille is significantly stronger but Humbert has the game for these conditions, as he’s shown in the past with two semi-final runs.
His big, lefty first serve should get plenty of cut-through here, while a penchant to come to the net when the opportunity arises is ideal for slick conditions.
Most recently, Humbert made the third round of the Australian Open before losing in four sets to Hurkacz.
That’s the main worry with this bet – the pair could meet in the semi-finals and Humbert trails 3-0 on the head to head.
That said, they’ve all been pretty close with the only indoor meeting going all the way to a deciding-set tie-break. That was in Basel in October.
Another encouraging sign is there if you compare the pair’s record for holding and breaking serve.
Adding the percentage of service holds and service breaks is a pretty good way of showing how players have fared and in 2024, Hurkacz’s lead over Humbert is only small (111-109).
Go back to take in the autumn indoor swing too and the gap narrows to 110.4-109.8. Essentially there has been little between the players in recent times, although that isn’t reflected in the market.
With Humbert only needing to win three matches to make a profit for his each-way backers (he has a first-round bye), odds of 12/1 make plenty of appeal.
In the bottom half of the draw, the man the bookies feel is most likely to make the final, Grigor Dimitrov, has hit my blacklist after his dismal Australian Open exit, while Karen Khachanov also looks short enough at 7/1.
Perhaps Felix Auger-Aliassime, twice a runner-up here, can produce. He’s at his best indoors and showed glimpses of his top form in Montpellier last week where he made the last four.
Still, I’m not yet ready to trust the Canadian again at 10/1.
Adelaide champion Jiri Lecheka might do something at 14s, although his indoor record is yet to hit the heights of his results on outdoor hard.
The one price which maybe worth an interest is the 70/1 about ARTHUR RINDERKNECH.
His game should be well suited to the Marseille conditions and he did make the quarter-finals here back in 2021 before his slide down the rankings.
The home hope tends to get his best results on the faster surfaces. He made quarter-finals in Chengdu and Mallorca last season, as well as on the Kitzbuhel clay where the high altitude helps the big servers considerably.
Admittedly, there’s little in the recent formbook to suggest he’s ready to contend here but he did make the last eight of the Challenger event in Quimper (as well as winning the doubles title) recently so is bedded in on indoor hard.
Still, if any tournament can help Rinderknech reproduce his best tennis, then it may well be this one.
Expect him to slam down plenty of aces and if that occurs – and his second serve holds up – then it’s certainly possible be could go deep.
A small bet looks worth a try at 50/1 or bigger.
- Dallas, USA (indoor hard)
More quick conditions will be on show in Dallas this week where they play on a Laykold indoor hardcourt.
That’s highlighted by the tie-break stats for the event. Since it moved to Dallas in 2022, 28 of the 54 main-draw matches have featured a breaker. Last year it was 16 of 27.
This third year of the event will be the last at the Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex – the tournament is being elevated to ‘500’ level next season and will move to a new, bigger venue.
Maybe conditions will then change but for now it’s again worth looking for the big servers and attacking players – Reilly Opelka won here in 2002, while last season John Isner was runner-up as Yibing Wu emerged as a surprise champion.
The obvious choice this year is BEN SHELTON.
The American is joint favourite at 9/2 but is sure to have his backers given the huge weapon he has in terms of his first serve.
That shot should win plenty of cheap points this week and while Shelton did only make the third round of the recent Australian Open, he was also a semi-finalist in Auckland on his trip to Oceania, so he has got some wins under his belt heading into what could be a good part of the season for him with big hardcourt events coming up soon in Indian Wells and Miami.
That early Melbourne exit does mean he should be well prepared to play in conditions which should suit his game – he has the profile of players who have done well here before.
Throw in a first-round bye and 9/2 looks a decent price.
Others to consider include Christopher Eubanks, another with the big delivery. He’s an 11/1 shot although he disappointed Down Under and will be arriving here having played Davis Cup in Lithuania.
Adrian Mannarino has started 2024 much better but he’s another whose week could be shaped by the fact he played Davis Cup at the weekend – he was in Chinese Taipei on Sunday so his body has much to deal with upon arrival in Texas, presumably on Monday.
Jordan Thompson – Shelton’s scheduled quarter-final foe – was seriously considered at 12/1.
Aussie Thompson performed well on home soil, reaching the last four in Brisbane where he beat Rafael Nadal, and then pushing Stefanos Tsitsipas hard at the Australian Open.
He doesn’t have the biggest serve but usually does a good job holding onto his own deal and is exactly the sort of player I can see playing a few tie-breaks this week.
Maybe that will be good enough to upset Shelton but I’m rather put off by the 2-0 head-to-head record in the American’s favour.
In an event where I’m struggling to really find a great deal of value, siding with the joint favourite is the way I’m opting to go.
- Cordoba, Argentina (outdoor clay)
For the first time this season, the tour hits a significant altitude this week when it visits Cordoba for the start of the South American ‘Golden Swing’ of claycourt tournaments.
February always get the dirtballers out in numbers and this event is certainly no exception.
OK, only four of the top 50 are here but there are still plenty of players more than capable on this surface and it’s a title which will take some winning.
Long-term readers will already know that the altitude factor is one I always place plenty of weight upon.
In the thinner air, the balls tend to ‘fly’ more. This can help the power-hitters, and those with big serves, but perhaps the most important skill a player needs is control of the ball and the ability to adapt their shot weight to the conditions – it’s easy to hit the ball long at altitude.
Finding players with a strong track record of delivering at altitude is often key in previews of such events and I’ve got a couple who fit the bill in Cordoba, which is over 400m above sea level.
The first is a player who has delivered for this column on more than one occasion in the past, including right here in 2022, and that’s ALBERT RAMOS-VINOLAS.
I know I’ve put him up time and again in the altitude events over the years but the Spanish veteran continues to deliver and you can imagine it’s weeks such as these which are really keeping the 36-year-old going.
Few, if any, players have such a good record at altitude as ARV.
Two of his four career titles have come in such conditions (I’m talking 400m-plus above sea level), as well as eight of his 12 finals. If that doesn’t scream altitude specialist, I don’t know what does.
As well as winning here in 2022, he’s also been to the final in 2021 and the semis last season.
I’d expect Ramos-Vinolas to slot in nicely to the conditions which isn’t perhaps something you can say about some of the market principals.
The top three seeds, Francisco Cerundolo, Sebastian Baez (the defending champion) and Tomas Etcheverry, are all arriving here off the back of Davis Cup duty for Argentina.
On Sunday, they were still in action down at sea level in Rosario, where both Cerundolo and Baez endured struggles on the final day of the tie, and those conditions will be significantly different to those they’ll find in Cordoba.
The good news for them is that there’s the potential for a Thursday start (the top four seeds all get first-round byes) but even so, the trio look short enough in the betting.
I’ll happily play Ramos-Vinolas in the top half and in the opposite section of the draw I’m going to side with ALEJANDRO TABILO.
The Chilean was the man Ramos-Vinolas beat here in the 2022 final and he should be bedded into the altitude conditions having spent the weekend in Santiago where he was representing Chile in the Davis Cup (he also won the decisive rubber so should also be buzzing).
That’s a nice advantage to have over some of this field, although it’s his impressive form which most catches the eye.
Tabilo was won 22 of his last 25 matches having ended 2023 well and started 2024 even better.
He captured his first ATP title in Auckland last month where he was the surprise champion having come through qualifying.
He lost serve only five times in seven matches that week and such a victory should have his confidence sky high as he heads back onto his preferred clay surface.
At the end of last season, the left-handed star captured Challenger Tour titles in both Guayaquil (on clay) and Brasilia (more than 1,000m above sea level) so his form is ticking plenty of boxes.
He is in the same quarter of the draw as Baez, while the other high seed in this half is Sebastian Ofner – and he’s arriving from indoor hardcourts in Ireland which is hardly a great sign.
All things considered, Tabilo looks worth an interest at 14/1.
Posted at 2110 GMT on 04/02/24
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.
Further support and information can be found at begambleaware.org and gamblingtherapy.org