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Taro Daniel to beat Andy Murray at +290 at FanDuel
Yoshihito Nishioka to beat Oscar Otte at +105 at Caesars Sportsbook
Tie-break in Nobert Gombos v Ilya Ivashka at +210 at FanDuel
Reilly Opelka to win the Delray Beach Open at +700 at FanDuel
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Let’s start with an underdog bet with Daniel looking a big price in this match-up in Doha.
The Japanese was a convincing 6-4 6-4 6-4 winner over Murray at last month’s Australian Open and although conditions change here, it’s difficult to accept the pricing of this one.
While Murray looked better in Rotterdam last week, losing to eventual champion Felix Auger-Aliassime in round two, he’s still lacking the consistency he craves – remember he’s also lost to Facundo Bagnis this season when priced up as a hot favorite.
A bit of pace has come off Murray’s shots since his hip surgery and he struggled to hit winners past Daniel’s defense in Melbourne. Given they will be playing in slower conditions here – considerably slower if the match is scheduled for the night session – then it’s far from certain Murray finds a way to reverse the result.
While hardly a banker, Daniel, who also took a set off Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open, looks too big to miss here at +290.
Last week’s tie-break parlay was a loser but the theory turned out to be pretty solid with tie-breaks aplenty in the fast indoor conditions of Dallas.
This week we’ve got more quick courts in Marseille. Indeed, conditions here don’t come much faster on the ATP Tour with the Gerflor surface favoring those who like to come forward, particularly those with a big first serve.
Ivashka is one such player and after the start of his season was delayed due to injury, this week looks to be a good opportunity for the Belarusian to really make his mark on 2022.
Gombos is likely to struggle on return but I’m hopeful he can hold his own on serve in these conditions and a tie-break in this one looks a decent possibility.
Ivashka is a firm favorite but Gombos has stayed competitive against a lot of top-50 players and it’s noteworthy that there has been a tie-break in nine of his last 15 matches against such opposition. Six of those tie-break matches were on hardcourts too.
The pair’s only previous meeting also involved a tie-break, albeit that was back in 2017.
Basically, +210 about a tie-break in this match looks worth taking. There should be plenty again this week in the south of France, so let’s try to profit.
Nishioka made the final of the Delray Beach Open in 2020 and I don’t believe he should be +105 to simply make it into round two this year.
The Japanese has picked up plenty of wins of late, albeit they have largely come on the second-tier Challenger Tour.
He was the winner in Columbus, Ohio, and the following week finished runner-up in Cleveland.
He’s a player who enjoys faster-than-average conditions and that should be the case in Florida this week at an event where big servers have often thrived.
Opponent Otte has done little of note so far in 2022, struggling in Australia and then last week losing in the first round to Jack Sock – more of a doubles player these days – in Dallas.
To see Nishioka as the slight outsider is a little surprising and I’m happy to back him at that price.
All four ATP Tour events this week are 28 draws which means the top four seeds at each get byes in round one.
So which of the big guns could be vulnerable in their opening match?
Well, Buenos Aires champion Casper Ruud now heads to Rio where a second-round meeting with Francisco Cerundolo could be awkward.
Ruud is just 5-4 at this event and lost his opener in 2020.
Cerundolo has been winning plenty of matches on clay over the past month. Admittedly not all have been at tour-level but last week he did make the quarter-finals in Buenos Aires where he lost only 7-5 in the third set to Diego Schwartzman, the man Ruud went on to beat (in three sets) in Sunday’s final.
Top seed Matteo Berrettini may also have to fight in what will be his first claycourt match since June.
He could meet home hope Thiago Monteiro and with the Italian’s serve bound to be blunted somewhat by some of the slowest conditions on tour, he could wobble at the very least.
In Doha, top seed Denis Shapovalov lost to a qualifier last week so who knows what he’ll do against Chris O’Connell or Alex Molcan, while on the other side of the draw Roberto Bautista Agut has often been troubled by Andy Murray so that could be an awkward one for the second seed if they meet.
Reilly Opelka won the Dallas Open without losing his serve all week, hitting 100 aces in the process, and if he carries on in that vein, then he’ll be tough to stop in Delray Beach.
Opelka won this event in 2020 and has been handed a decent draw for this year’s edition.
The top half looks stacked but down at the bottom, Opelka appears to have a decent route through to the final.
It won’t be quite as fast as Dallas now they are back outdoors, but conditions should still work for Opelka’s serve-forehand combination game and he looks worthy of support at +700.
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|ATP Delray Beach, Doha & Marseille Information
|ATP Delray Beach Open; ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open; ATP Open 13 Provence
|Delray Beach, Fl, USA; Doha, Qatar; Marseille, France
|Monday, February 14 to Sunday, February 20
|How to Watch
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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