IN week nine of the 2018 ATP World Tour we’re on clay at altitude in Sao Paulo for the Brasil Open and outdoor hard in Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and for the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.
This week is an extremely difficult one to manage in terms of time zones, as Dubai starts in the morning UK time, Sal Paulo in the mid-afternoon, and Acapulco late at night through to the early morning.
For day one on Monday I’ll look at Dubai, as the qualifying is nowhere near done in Acapulco, which is one of those annoying ATP/WTA joint events that make the scheduling a nightmare, and Sao Paulo's card holds little in the way of interest.
Conditions in Dubai are quick on a DecoTurf II outdoor hard court, but the wind, the balls flying in the thin air, and much slower conditions at night make it a tournament where tie breaks are few and matches often over pretty quickly.
In the last five years in Dubai only 26% of the matches in the main draw have featured a tie break and 65% of the matches have finished in fewer than 22.5 games.
That trend has been evident in qualies in Dubai already this year, with 11 of the 12 matches ending in two sets.
Tie breaks are also scarce in Acapulco, with only 28% of the matches in the main draw there since it was moved to hard courts in 2014 featuring a tie break, and in both Dubai and Acapulco just 26% of the matches in five years (Dubai) and four years (Acapulco) have been won by the betting underdog.
Indeed, the fastest (if you judge the quickest event as being the one with the most tie breaks, as many do) tournament this week is on clay at altitude in Sao Paulo, where 38% of the matches in the last five years have featured a tie break.
Statistically, Sao Paulo is easily the best tournament this week for finding an underdog winner, with 42% of the matches at the Brasil Open between 2013 and 2017 won by the betting underdog.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Stefanos Tstitsipas vs Mikhail Kukushkin
The layers love Tsitsipas and once again he’s been put in too short in my opinion against a more than capable opponent in what will be the young Greek’s career debut in Dubai.
Even much more experienced players have struggled with conditions here and 1.60 about a debutant that’s lost his last four matches to Nicolas Mahut, Martin Klizan, Jeremy Chardy and Quentin Halys looks very skinny indeed.
The main problem with the Tsitsipas game at the moment is his return of serve issues, with only 11.1% breaks of serve in his nine main level matches on outdoor hard over the past 12 months.
His serving is decent and he’s held 82.1% of the time in those nine matches, but his hold/break total of 93.2 is 6.2% worse than that of Kukushkin, based on the Kazakh’s 11 main level matches on outdoor hard this last 12 months.
Kukushkin should have taken down Damir Dzumhur in Marseille last week, but blew four match points for a straight sets win, so the level is there, however fitness is often an issue for Kuku and it can only be a single point wager on him at 2.35.
- 1 point win Kukushkin to beat Tsitsipas (2.35, Unibet)