Marton Fucsovics to beat Mackenzie McDonald at +114 at FanDuel
Henri Laaksonen to beat Facundo Bagnis at -138 at bet365
Jan-Lennard Struff to beat Ilya Ivashka at +190 at FanDuel
Rafael Nadal to win ATP Indian Wells at +275 at bet365
Conditions in Indian Wells are rather unusual. The balls fly through the air fast due to the dry desert air but they tend to kick up off the slow Plexipave surface.
That won’t help McDonald’s game – he prefers a faster court than this – and Fucsovics looks a good price at +114 to capitalise.
The Hungarian recently made quarter-finals in both Rotterdam and Doha, both of which played pretty sluggish, and he’s got the power to hit through the slow conditions here.
He’ll hit the ball flat and may be able to take time away from the home hope, who hasn’t been in the best of form so far in 2022.
Fucsovics’ last four defeats have come at the hands of Andrey Rublev, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur, so it’s taken good players to beat him.
While not hugely significant given it was now eight years ago, Fucsovics also won the pair’s only previous meeting which, as it happens, also took place in California in the Aptos Challenger.
Backing the underdog makes appeal.
This isn’t a match which will have fans flocking to watch it but there looks to be some value in back Laaksonen at -138.
Bagnis is a player who spends the majority of his time on clay and only the lure of a chunky pay cheque has brought him to Indian Wells.
But even on clay this season he’s struggled, as a record of 3-7 shows, while look back to 2021 and you find he lost his first match at four of his five hardcourt tournaments. That included a 6-3 6-1 defeat here to Emilio Gomez.
Laaksonen is no great shakes himself but the Swiss is a player who has tended to raise his game at the bigger events. Indeed, he beat Borna Coric here in 2017.
His efforts so far in 2022 certainly haven’t been spectacular but they are better than those of his opponent and he warrants support.
I can see why Ivashka is the favourite for this match but quotes of around -225 look rather short.
He’s gone just 3-4 so far this season and his only event on outdoor hard saw him beaten 6-3 6-2 in the first round of Dubai by Soonwoo Kwon.
He’s another who would prefer more pace in the court surface and while his strong first serve should still win him plenty of points, the courts may well pop the ball up into Struff’s hitting zone.
Like Fucsovics, he’s a flat, powerful hitter and that has the potential to rush Ivashka in the rallies.
The German is a half-decent 5-5 at main-draw level in Indian Wells with his win tally including a victory over Alex Zverev in 2019.
The problem is Struff comes into the contest having lost five matches in a row. However, he has beaten John Isner and taken a set off Denis Shapovalov on a hardcourt this season, while he’s also 2-1 up on Ivashka in their head-to-head.
At +190, Struff looks a nice-priced underdog.
Alex Zverev has been at the centre of attention again of late following his racquet smashing on the umpire’s chair in Acapulco – an incident for which he was thrown out of the tournament and then handed a suspended ban.
He was riled by the crowd playing Davis Cup in Brazil at the weekend and it will be interesting to see how he’s received here in his opening match – like all the seeds he has a bye into round two.
If he’s playing American Tommy Paul, as I’d expect, it’s fair to say the fans won’t be on his side and the ever-improving Paul will likely be a tempting price to land the upset.
He made the last 16 here on his main-draw debut back in October, beating Andrey Rublev before losing to eventual champion Cameron Norrie.
In short, there’s plenty to like about his chances.
The crowd will also be against Russian Karen Khachanov if he faces off against rising US star Jenson Brooksby, who tested Zverev to the limit in Acapulco last month.
However, the bookmakers are aware of Brooksby’s ability these days so while he may still be an outsider, his odds won’t be as tempting as those offered on Paul.
Rafael Nadal’s 15-0 start to 2022 is his best ever opening to a season and, following Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal, he looks a worthy favourite here.
He’s already beaten main rival Daniil Medvedev twice this year and has won this title three times in the past.
Nadal’s level has been nothing short of sensational since he returned from a career-threatening injury in January and having spent a week in California bedding into the conditions, he should take all the beating at +275.
For a bigger price, it’s worth taking a look at Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opposite half of the draw.
FAA is another to have made a strong start to the campaign with no fewer than six top-20 wins already in the bank.
Significantly, he broke his ATP title duck with victory in Rotterdam and further success can now be expected.
His strong serve will cut through the dry air here and should earn him plenty of cheap points. With an improved ground game evident too, Auger-Aliassime looks decent odds at +1600.
|ATP Indian Wells Information|
|What||ATP BNP Paribas Open|
|Location||Indian Wells, CA, USA|
|Time||Thursday March 10 to Sunday March 20|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
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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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