ATP Beijing: Choose heavy hitters to oppose Nadal


TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with his best bets from this week's Beijing tournament.

ATP Beijing | 2nd-8th October 2017 | Eurosport

The outdoor hard court season is drawing to a close with events in Tokyo and Beijing this week leading into the final outdoor Masters event of the season in Shanghai next week.

This is a stage of the year where factoring motivations is important. Some players will have something to play for, whilst some may be eyeing up some well earned time on the beach.

Elite players have dominated Beijing in recent years. Novak Djokovic has won all but two editions of the Beijing tournament since 2009, with Andy Murray winning last year and Tomas Berdych in 2011. Neither Djokovic or Murray is in town, whilst Berdych is here but is not the player he was six years ago.

Those who have been able to challenge the ‘Big 4’ players at this event have tended to have a big hitting game – with Berdych being the prime example, holding one other final appearance to his 2011 success. Runners-up such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic also fit this profile.

As ever I take a look at the draw quarter by quarter using statistics and research to help determine where the betting value lies.

Quarter 1

Rafa Nadal heads the draw and he is justifiably the outright betting favourite this week. Titleists have tended to be the cream of the crop, and no player in the draw comes close to the US Open champion’s pedigree.

However, there are some reasons to doubt that Nadal walks away with the title this week. He has only won in Beijing once, and that was way back in 2005. Since then he has only made a further two finals, which is hardly a standout performance on the illustrious Nadal record.

In addition to this Nadal has had a fair bit of fortune in his hard court draws this season – the Spaniard has not played a top 20 ranked player on a hard court since March.

Nadal has tasted defeat on hard courts this season against players that have a solid serve and that back it up with attacking intent – such as Federer (X3), Kyrgios, Shapovalov, Querrey and Raonic. This draw is packed full of players with this style.

Nadal has it tough out of the gates facing Lucas Pouille who hit Nadal off the court at the US Open last season. The Frenchman has been poor for a while but knocking off Nadal is definitely in his wheelhouse.

Beyond Pouille, Karen Khachanov has had a good season although his hard court results haven’t been too inspiring. He took Nadal to a tiebreak at Wimbledon, and having won Chengdu last year has the ability to play good tennis during the Asian hard court swing.

In the quarterfinal Nadal is scheduled to play John Isner. The big American won an exhibition encounter between the pair at the Laver Cup last weekend, and he has performed well in Beijing in the past – only losing to Djokovic and Berdych.

However, Nadal has beaten Isner in every serious meeting between the pair. I would expect Nadal to come through his quarter, but he represents little value at 7/4 to win this tournament.

Quarter 2

Grigor Dimitrov is the highest seed in this section and defends final points in Beijing from 12 months ago. The Bulgarian is unreliable and flaky at the best of times and the prospect of him defending final points doesn’t inspire confidence.

You don’t have to look back too far to realise Dimitrov has the habit to disappoint, having scored a prestigious title in Cincinnati a few weeks before the US Open before bombing early at the Grand Slam.

Looking to oppose Dimitrov is a good option and there are a couple of players in this quarter capable of doing that. The standout name being Juan Martin del Potro.

The Argentine made the US Open semifinals and hopefully he can back up that performance in Beijing. Del Po has fitness doubts – as he always does – but he has finally landed some good draws – after months of drawing the likes of Federer and Djokovic early on – and if he repeats his New York level he will do well this week.

Del Potro has the big hitting profile that scores well in Beijing, and he has a great record against Grigor Dimitrov and the other seeded player in this quarter Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard has a shocking record in 500 level hard court events and has experienced some poor losses at this level in the past.

Del Potro is 12/1 (188BET) to win the tournament , and given his soft draw it looks worth a play.

Quarter 3

Surprise US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno-Busta is the tournaments 4th seed. To his credit, PCB is punching way above his level with a playing style that depends on getting one ball back rather than forcing the initiative.

He is a tough nut to crack but rarely would he be my choice to back outright in a hard court event. I don’t intend on supporting him here.

The one seed that does interest me is Nick Kyrgios. I do wonder why he is not in Tokyo where he is the defending champion, and the slick conditions match up nicely with his game. But with 500 ranking points to defend, Kyrgios should be motivated.

He has never played in Beijing but he has a favourable draw and has form in both 500 level events, and in Asia. At 7/1 (William Hill) to win the tournament outright Kyrgios is a good choice.

The likes of Jan-Lennard Struff, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Mischa Zverev don’t interest me in this quarter.

Quarter 4

The tournament’s second seed is Alex Zverev. The youngster has arrived in the big time with his current world number 4 ranking reflecting a great 2017.

However, last week at a tour event in Shenzhen he looked half as interested as he did in the glamorous Laver Cup exhibition event, which suggests to me he may be focussed more towards the higher profile events that will appear in the weeks to come.

Zverev has qualified for the Next Gen finals, and is on course to debut in the Year End Championships next month. I don’t expect Zverev to tire himself out unnecessarily between now and then, and although he will probably find a good week between now and then he is not an attractive betting proposition at the moment.

There are some credible alternatives to Zverev in this quarter.

Fabio Fognini is a horse for the course, producing some good weeks in Beijing over the past few years. He may experience a comedown after losing the final in St Petersburg two weeks ago.

I really like Jack Sock’s numbers and believe he has it within him to win a 500 level hard court event. He struggles badly in humid conditions, which are typical of the Beijing climate. Sock is 30/1 outright but I will pass him by.

The player I am backing from this quarter is Tomas Berdych – and this is something I don’t do lightly. Berdych is a player I rarely back in an outright market, particularly in a season where his level tends to be on the decline.

However, he is still at the upper end of performers on hard courts this season and has a strong track record at this event. Furthermore he generally finds good motivation during the Asian hard court swing – winning titles in Shenzhen in 2016 and 2015.

Twelve months previously I remember writing off David Ferrer, who has a great record in Beijing and he made the semifinals. At 14/1 (SkyBet) outright Berdych is capable of rolling back the years.

Best Bets

ATP Beijing – Nick Kyrgios to win outright (7/1 William Hill)

ATP Beijing – Juan Martin Del Potro to win outright(12/1 188BET)

ATP Beijing – Thomas Berdych to win outright (14/1 SkyBet)

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