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Yoshihito Nishioka to beat Miomir Kecmanovic at +100 at BetMGM
James Duckworth to win a set vs Taylor Fritz at +175 at bet36
Tallon Griekspoor to beat Alexander Bublik at +162 at bet365
Marc-Andrea Huesler to beat Emil Ruusuvuori at +180 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Denis Shapovalov to win the Japan Open at +900 at PointsBet
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Kecmanovic’s form has dipped since a strong start to the season and he arrives in Tokyo having won just two of his last seven matches.
In contrast, Nishioka is flying having just won the title in Seoul on Sunday and with similar conditions on offer across the Sea of Japan, he should be well-prepped to continue his momentum.
Of course, there’s the potential for a hangover from that week in Korea but the fact that this is his home tournament should provide that motivation to put aside any tiredness.
In addition, Nishioka leads on the pair’s head-to-head – it’s 2-0 in completed matches (the Serb did claim a win via retirement at one stage).
His awkward game style accounted for seeds Casper Ruud, Denis Shapovalov and Dan Evans last week and he looks capable of adding another scalp to his list here.
As the underdog, the Japanese looks worthy of support.
At +500, Duckworth looks a big price in this match-up.
Significantly, he has won both of the pair’s previous meetings, the most recent being a straight-set success in Toronto last season.
Fritz withdrew from Seoul last week citing an illness that is hardly ideal preparation for an event which he’s visited three times previously and is yet to win a set.
Duckworth will be happy with his form.
He made the quarter-finals in San Diego recently, prior to which he’d made the final of a hardcourt Challenger in France.
He also enjoyed this part of the season 12 months ago, winning a Challenger in Istanbul. He then moved indoors and reached the last eight in Sofia, losing to eventual champion Jannik Sinner, before repeating the trick at the Paris Masters.
The +500 looks a decent value price, with +175 about Duckworth winning at least a set a less risky and arguably more solid option.
In Astana, home hope Bublik could be vulnerable in his opening match.
His mental frailty was back on show in last weekend’s Metz final when is latest brain-fade saw him try a trick shot on a key point. He duly lost it and with it went his title hopes.
He’s never been Mr Reliable and the evidence of previous visits to his home tournament suggests he’s found the pressure hard to handle.
In 2020 he produced a miserable display to lose heavily to Mackenzie McDonald, while last season he did make the semis but then suffered an upset defeat to Soonwoo Kwon.
The fairly slow courts don’t aid his game but will be more welcomed by Griekspoor.
Admittedly his form is far from sparkling but he certainly served well in fairly slick Tel Aviv conditions last week, only to lose 7-5 in the third to Vasek Pospisil.
That serve could be a key shot in this battle with Bublik heavily reliant on his own delivery.
It’s notable that the duo’s two previous meetings have only featured tie-breaks, Bublik winning 7-6 7-6 on each occasion.
bet365 go -120 about another breaker in this contest.
It wouldn’t take much for such a result to be reversed and I’m prepared to back Griekspoor for victory at +162.
Like Nishioka, Huesler comes into a new week off the back of a title success at the weekend and I don’t think he should be +180 to continue his winning ways.
The Swiss was serving well again in Sofia – he was very impressive on that front in Winston-Salem too prior to the US Open – and he should encounter similar conditions here.
Like Sofia, the Astana court surface has tended to play pretty slow in the past but there’s also a decent bit of altitude – they are around 350m above sea level here, compared to 550m in Sofia.
That will help the in-form left-hander’s serve and he looks capable of giving Ruusuvuori plenty to think about.
Since hitting the hardcourts, the Finn has gone just 6-7 and with Huesler having won their previous meeting, albeit on clay, the odds don’t really look right to me.
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Denis Shapovalov looked to be heading back towards something like his best form in Seoul last week where he made the final only to lose to Yoshihito Nishioka.
Still, it was a week that will have given the Canadian plenty of confidence.
In particular, his serve was in good working order with the first serve winning 77% of points across the week. The lowest it got in any match was 69%.
On the second serve, Shapovalov also posted good numbers, winning 57% of points and twice hitting 75% in a single match.
It’s a tougher field this week, no doubt, but Shapo is in a good section of the draw, one vacated by the COVID-hit Cameron Norrie.
Title favorite Nick Kyrgios looks like his biggest challenger in the bottom half but Shapovalov won their only previous meeting and he looks worth backing at +900.
|What||ATP Astana Open; ATP Rakuten Japan Open|
|Location||Astana, Kazakhstan; Tokyo, Japan|
|Time||Monday, October 3 to Sunday, October 9|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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