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Peter Gojowczyk to win the first set vs Jiri Lehecka at +176 at FanDuel
Mikael Ymer to beat Federico Coria 2-0 at -140 at FanDuel
James Duckworth to win a set v Thanasi Kokkinakis at -120 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Ilya Ivashka to win the ATP Cincinnati Masters
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Due to the Sunday start at the Winston-Salem Open, there’s a limited first-round coupon for this week’s column to go at.
Still, attack it we will and one outsider who has potential is Gojowczyk.
He’s long been a player who’s delivered his best tennis on the faster conditions and the Laykold surface in Winston-Salem, combined with a forecast temperature of 28C, should allow him to play his attacking, push-forward game.
Admittedly it’s been a poor season for the German but he did show some decent signs in Atlanta recently where he beat both Steve Johnson and Ernesto Escobedo before losing to Adrian Mannarino in a match that featured just a single break of serve.
There’s no doubt this wager is a little risky but a big part of my decision to side with Gojowczyk is his opponent’s (relative) lack of preparation.
Yes, last time out he won a Challenger Tour title but that was on the European clay – he’ll find conditions much faster here.
This will actually be the young Czech’s first hardcourt match since February and probably the fastest conditions he’s played in since the Australian Open in January.
There’s every chance he’s rushed, particularly early on.
Gojowczyk is +235 to land the victory but with the potential for Lehecka to play himself into the match, I’m going to go for the German to win the first set at +176.
I’m never that keen on the set betting market but Ymer really should be a comfortable winner of this one.
He was the beaten finalist at this tournament 12 months ago so clearly likes the conditions, while the recent form is good too – he beat Andy Murray, Aslan Karatsev, Emil Ruusuvuori and Seb Korda en route to the semi-finals in Washington earlier this month.
Last week he kept his eye in with a quarter-final run in Vancouver at Challenger level.
Coria will be playing on hardcourts for the first time since Miami in March and he’s likely to find the courts a bit too quick here.
Even on his favored clay, results haven’t been great; he’s only won back-to-back matches at tour level once since early April.
In short, there’s lots stacking in Ymer’s favor here and a straight-sets win at -140 beckons.
The layers have priced by Kokkinakis nice and short this week after a decent showing in Cincinnati last week, although they may be going a bit overboard making him a -300 shot to beat his fellow Australian.
He beat Ilya Ivashka in qualifying in Ohio before pushing Jannik Sinner the distance in the main draw.
Still, it should not be forgotten that prior to that the notoriously fragile Kokkinakis won just five games against the unheralded Andres Martin in Atlanta and was then beaten by Steve Johnson in Los Cabos. Those are not good results.
While both previous meetings were several years ago, it’s worth noting that Duckworth won both encounters in straight sets, losing his serve only once.
Duckworth’s form is far from impressive, it has to be said, but he was certainly competitive against eventual champion Alex de Minaur in Atlanta and his knowledge of the Kokkinakis game can help him keep this close at the very least.
While tempted by the +225 on offer about him winning, the better bet looks to be to back Duckworth to win a set at -120.
Kokkinakis has lost a set in 10 of his last 11 matches and that run can be extended here.
The Winston-Salem Open offers a first-round bye to each of its 16 seeds and it will be interesting to see how Nikoloz Basilashvili is priced up for his opening match.
The sixth seed is a multiple title winner on the ATP Tour but it’s fair to say he’s probably not in the right place mentally right now.
The Georgian was last week facing a domestic-abuse trial in his homeland, albeit he was allowed to appear remotely. He denies the charges.
It is probably no coincidence that when he took to the court in Cincinnati he was beaten 6-0 6-1 by Mackenzie McDonald.
He won’t get an easy ride in his first match this week either.
Both Denis Kudla and Thiago Monteiro are capable of serving well in these conditions and either man would have the ability to trouble Basilashvili, even if he were arriving in decent form.
Meanwhile, Botic van de Zandschulp could be vulnerable if Alexei Popyrin brings his A-game.
OK, that hasn’t happened too often of late but van de Zandschulp may be a player with one eye on next week’s US Open (he’ll be seeded in New York) and there are always players who fail to give 100 percent in the week before a Grand Slam event.
If Popyrin serves well in these conditions, that won’t be an easy match for the second seed.
Ilya Ivashka won this tournament in 2021 and looks a decent price to repeat the trick.
The Belarusian made the semi-finals in Atlanta a few weeks ago where it took eventual champion Alex de Minaur to halt his progress.
He’s a player who has a good track record at delivering in the week before a Major – as well as having won here 12 months ago, he was a quarter-finalist in Geneva the week before this season’s French Open and also made the last eight in Eastbourne just prior to Wimbledon.
With a big serve and forehand, he’s well suited to the conditions here, as he showed last season when he didn’t just win, he dominated, dropping only one set en route to the title and winning several sets by big margins.
At around +2000, Ivashka looks worth a wager.
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|ATP Winston-Salem Open
|Winston-Salem, NC, USA
|Sunday, August 21 to Saturday, August 27
|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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