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John Millman to beat Mikael Ymer at +136 at PointsBet
Kei Nishikori vs Andy Murray to go three sets at +140 at BetMGM
Dan Evans to beat Soon-woo Kwon and under 21.5 games in the match at +175 at bet365
Sebastian Korda to win the San Diego Open at +2000 at Caesars Sportsbook
I’m not seeing too many good underdog prices on this week’s first-round coupon but Millman looks one of them.
Defending his title in Nur-Sultan last week, the Australian made the quarter-finals before losing to his compatriot James Duckworth.
That was a bit of a surprise but at least he put a foot injury that dogged him during the North American hardcourt season behind him.
In Sofia, they play around 550m above sea level – a bit higher but not hugely different to Nur-Sultan. With another pretty sluggish court surface on show, he should be fairly well tuned in to the conditions.
Ymer, on the other hand, comes from a lower altitude in Metz where the courts are among the fastest on the ATP Tour. He’ll need to adjust quickly and get used to the ball flying through the air in the thinner air – ball control will be key and it’s something I’ve seen the Swede struggled with in the past, notably during his recent final defeat to Ilya Ivashka in Winston-Salem.
Ymer’s form isn’t bad – he made this column a decent profit with his win over Jan-Lennard Struff last week – but I feel he’s got a lot to deal with here and Millman looks worth backing at +140.
Nishikori and Murray have been two of the tour’s great battlers over the past 15 years and I feel they could well show that during this match in San Diego.
Their last three matches have all seen the first two sets shared.
Admittedly those contests were played when both players were in better physical shape and form but the fact that both struggle more for consistency these days only strengthens the case that this match goes to a deciding set.
Nishikori’s roller-coaster nature is summed up by his record this year – both players have won a set in 23 of his 41 matches this season.
Murray can’t match that remarkable stat but four of his last 10 matches fit the same bill.
Odds of +136 about this one going three sets look worth taking.
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Kwon claimed his maiden ATP title in Nur-Sultan on Sunday so some might suggest that he’s worth a bet as the outsider here.
But what you need to really consider here is where Nur-Sultan is – it’s the capital of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. That’s 13 time zones from San Diego where this match will take place.
Essentially, he’s got to fly literally halfway around the world. It’s a 24-hour flight at best. In reality, a lack of direct flights will mean it’s 30-plus. Throw in the jet-lag and I’m not sure he’ll know what day it is when he steps onto court to face Evans. The latest the match can take place is Wednesday.
What he’ll also have to deal with is considerably different conditions. They were playing indoors on GreenSet in Nur-Sultan where the temperature outside the venue was in single digits. In San Diego they are outdoors on Laykold, with the mercury well above 20C.
Having recovered after contracting COVID-19, Evans rediscovered his form at the US Open, enjoying a run to the last 16 and in the circumstances, I’m keen to find a way to get with the Briton.
An Evans win and under 21.5 games in the match gets the nod at +175.
For those seeking a bigger price, under 8.5 games in the first set at +400 (Caesars Sportsbook) certainly has potential.
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Top seed Andrey Rublev gets a first-round bye in San Diego and could be under threat in his opening match if he faces Brandon Nakashima.
The young American is in his home city this week and has already produced some excellent results on the North American hardcourts this season, reaching finals in both Los Cabos and Atlanta.
Rublev was the top points-scorer at the Laver Cup at the weekend, winning all three rubbers, but he’s now got to quickly adapt to different conditions.
Nakashima will likely be a tempting price to topple the Russian.
Meanwhile, in Sofia, it may be worth opposing Alex de Minaur again.
This column mentioned his vulnerability last week and he duly lost to Marcos Giron in Metz.
The Australian has now lost six of his last seven matches and a rematch with the in-form Giron probably isn’t what the doctor ordered.
Sebastian Korda has already made a final on US soil this season and he looks a good price to put together a similar run at this week’s San Diego Open.
Food poisoning undermined his US Open bid but after almost a month away from the court, he should be raring to go here.
In a quarter of the draw where Casper Ruud and Lorenzo Sonego are the seeds, Korda looks well drawn.
Most of the leading seeds have a big change of conditions to deal with – five of the top six arrive from playing indoors on Sunday at the Laver Cup in Boston, while Hubert Hurkacz was winning the title in Metz, France, on the same day where conditions were faster than they will be in California.
Korda will have had a few more days getting used to conditions and looks worth trying at +2000.
|ATP San Diego and Sofia Information
|ATP San Diego Open and ATP Sofia Open
|San Diego, California, USA; Sofia, Bulgaria
|Monday, September 27 to Sunday, October 3
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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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