Tennis Tips: Juan the man to back in Auckland final

juan martin del potro

THE last action on the ATP World Tour ahead of the Australian Open takes place on Saturday in the finals of the ASB Classic and Sydney International.

We were Fabio-d on Friday thanks to a typically frustrating display from the master of the mental checkout, Fabio Fognini, who turned a set and a break lead into a defeat in double quick time.

The combustible Italian had had enough against a struggling Daniil Medvedev after carving out a well-deserved lead and even with the Russian clearly fatigued and having treatment for blisters.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” Medvedev said, almost as if he’d never seen Fabio do this sort of thing before. “It’s a little bit strange that the match turned like this, but I’m happy I took my chance,” he added.

It was all too believable and the irony of Fognini having burned my outright on Thursday when coming from a set and a break down against Adrian Mannarino and then doing the exact opposite a day later wasn’t lost on me.

Roberto Bautista Agut vs Juan Martin Del Potro

We’ve got the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland at around 01:30 UK time between Delpo and RBA, who are clashing for the fifth time in their careers on Saturday.

The pair have met three times in the past 18 months and Delpo has won them all and given that RBA played a near three-hour marathon with Robin Haase on Friday it’s tough to see an upset in this one.

Delpo will be delighted with his early-season form and he warmed up for this test by facing a similar type of opponent in David Ferrer, who has similarly misleading stats to those of RBA.

I mentioned yesterday about Ferrer’s hold/break numbers being very good on outdoor hard in the last 12 months, but that he faced very few top-20 opponents in that time and it’s a similar story with Bautista-Agut.

RBA has compiled a hold/break total of 111.7 in his 32 main level outdoor hard court matches this past year, but just six of them have been against players ranked inside the top-12 (Delpo is currently ranked 12 and will be back in the top-10 next week).

In those six matches RBA has lost all six and is 3-13 in sets won/lost, so his stats are largely made up of beating players he should beat, which won’t be good enough here.

He’s also got a tricky draw in Melbourne against Fernando Verdasco, who’s beaten RBA three times from four matches, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him fail to produce his best here after that effort against an inspired Haase.

Of RBA’s six titles (not counting the virtual walkover that Jack Sock gave him here in Auckland two years ago) the highest ranked player he’s beaten is Viktor Troicki, while the four he lost against top-20 opposition he lost by at least four games on the handicap.

Del Potro has won 79% of his main level career matches against players ranked from 21 to 50 and the last 19 in a row – 16 of them in straight sets, which looks like the wager on Saturday.

Delpo is 30-1 in his last 31 matches on hard courts against players ranked from 21 to 50 (the one loss was to Ernests Gulbis indoors in Rotterdam in 2014) and he’s lost only one on an outdoor hard court to players of this 21-50 ranking since the 2013 Australian Open (John Isner in Cincy, 2013).

The 2-0 to Del Potro has to be the wager here at evens.

Best bet (Sat 1.30am)

  • 1.5 points win Del Potro to beat Bautista Agut 2-0
  • (Evens, Unibet)
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