Libema Open Preview (Top Half) ATP Betting Tips - 6/10/2019
Libema Open top half draw breakdown
from 10th to 16th June 2019
Seeds: #1 Stefanos Tsitsipas, #8 Richard Gasquet
It will not be an easy task for any non-seeded contenders trying to fight their way into the quarterfinals from this part of the draw. Looking at Tsitsipas' previous experience at this event, you probably wouldn't find it all that impressive. He was eliminated in qualifying rounds of 2017 edition by Vasek Pospisil and lost to Richard Gasquet in last years quarterfinals. His grass court record is currently standing at 6-4 which is nothing special for a player of his caliber. But I still wouldn't like to get in his way here, unless some great value opportunity presents itself. He is only 20 years old but is already one of the top players in the world (No. 6 at the moment). His talent and work ethic are helping him to improve each day and he is only going to get better. Volatile 1st serve % and time needed on his backhand side are things that might hurt him in certain spots, but overall he could still prevail over this field by being at least class above in terms of overall ability. He is also a great competitor and will rarely take tournaments off.
At first glance of the draw, Richard Gasquet might not catch your eye as one of the biggest threats right away, but he should. He is well past his prime, but he was playing high-level grass court tennis when some of these guys were still wearing diapers. Actually, some of his achievements are not so outdated. He is a title defender here which is his only title in last three years (proving he feels good here) and one of the 3 he won on the grass during his career. Those 3 titles look nice alongside 66-31 record and 68% win percentage. He is not the lightest on his feet anymore last few years, but he compensates for that with some flair. His shot selection and variety are great for these playing conditions. He knows exactly which shot to play and when to play it, to put his opponent in most uncomfortable positions which is a very good gameplan on the "green". Especially against players who are not used of it.
Sleepers: Mikhail Kukushkin
His record might not show that, but I am sure Mikhail Kukushkin can play very solid tennis on grass when not in terrible form. 38% is actually below the win percentage that he has on other playing surfaces, but I am trying to look past those stats. Grass courts records can be slightly deceiving at times due to small sample size, so when you are able to identify such situations, you will probably be able to find some solid value bets. Backing Kukushkin might be one of those. He is a very good returner which is very important here. When you can put a high percentage of serves back in play and take away easy points of-of opponents first serve, you are probably on a right path. Also, his lateral movement is very good and he will deal really well with the pace coming his way by countering it with some nice flat shots down the line. He is getting Sonego in the first round, which might seem a tough spot, with Lorenzo being a very talented player, but Italian lacks experience in these playing conditions and is better suited for some slower tennis courts.
Rest of the guys in this top quarter are Nicolas Jarry, Lorenzo Sonego, Aljaz Bedene, and the qualifier. Chilean has a big game and might trick you into thinking that his game should work really well on fast surfaces. Which is simply not true. I talked about the danger of small sample sizes, but in this case, his 1-3 on grass is not lying. He does have the power to spare but doesn't control it all that well at times. He'll get himself into a world of problems by hitting his forehands long. I guess that as a big guy, he is not that excited about the low bounce on the grass courts. It is not very comfortable when you are forced to bend the knees and pick up some of those low shots, being 6'6.
Already wrote couple of words on Sonego. Very talented kid, but with little experience on grass courts. Not sure that he came across it as a junior, because the archives on him are pretty limited. Last year he played a couple of matches, mostly in qualifying rounds. Managed to beat some scrubs, lose to some better players, so those results are not really revealing his potential in these playing conditions. He stated clay as his favorite playing surface, which is no surprise. He grew up on it and his game is constructed in a way to give the best result on the dirt, at the moment. I'm sure that he'll evolve into an all-court player in the next few years, right now, I don't see him as a threat for a deep run in this tourney.
Aljaz Bedene has some of that ability to play on all surfaces, but he is in such a bad form this year that I don't believe he is jump-starting his season on arguably his weakest playing surface. He's 10-14 all-time on grass, 3-3 in Hertogenbosch with a nice QF run in 2017 when he beat nobody worth mentioning. Pass.
Seeds: #3 Alex De Minaur, #6 Francis Tiafoe
After a solid start to the season in Melbourne and Acapulco, De Minaur struggled mightily on clay, where he was 0-3. I believe he's very excited about playing in some faster conditions and not dealing with clay until next summer. His grass record is 2-3 on the main tour, but this is, without doubt, his favorite playing surface. On challenger tour he is holding 9-3 and a title, while as a junior, he was the runner-up in 2016 Wimbledon, losing the finals to Denis Shapovalov. His best trait for these playing conditions is his movement. He is extremely quick and agile which is allowing him to get a lot of balls back in play. Flat and low over the net while doing so, which is very difficult to deal with. Despite the first round bye, his draw will not be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination, but he could still be the dark horse of the tournament if he gets it going early on.
Francis Tiafoe is another decorated juniors player (without a major success at Wimbledon though) that transitioned pretty easily onto the main tour. His favorite surface is clay, but his game is suited just fine for any surface. I believe that, because he has a rare talent for striking the ball with a combination of power and precision from any part of the court. He had a pretty decent grass court season last year, getting into QFs of Queen's club and 3rd round of Wimbledon, beating some good players in the process.
Chardy is probably on many sleepers shortlist, but his problem might be the doubles final at the French Open, which gave him a very narrow window to prep for grass. We'll see in what way that is going to affect him. But he has to be ready. He is defending a bunch of points here from last year when he lost to Richard Gasquet in the finals. His serve and forehand are very powerful and difficult to defend against in fast conditions, but the schedule and his negative grass court record is making me believe that last year's run was a bit fluky.
Andreas Seppi might benefit because he's facing Chardy in the first round, but I wouldn' bet on him going very deep. His current form is the biggest issue. After starting the season with the finals in Sydney, it was all downhill from there. He is coming to the Netherlands with a 9 match losing streak. Usually, I'd give him a lot of respect on grass, considering his 57-42 record, a title and being the runner up twice. But after such a bad streak, I am not in a mood for catching this falling knife.
Jason Thompson is a prime example of a tweener that is in between ATP and challenger tour. He is bullying people down there, but can't come up with anything worth mentioning at the main tour. Combined with the fact that he is better suited for hard and clay courts, his 2-9 grass record and being 0-3 at this event... He is probably a good candidate for a 1st round exit, even against a qualifier.
Joao Sousa is the last guy waiting for an assessment of his chances in this tournament, which are not that big. He had a good run here in 2014, getting into the semifinals, but the quality of the field was pretty bad. He is 10-16 all-time on the grass and played mediocre tennis at best lately. He'll set up a couple of traps out there, waiting for some erratic opponent to dive headfirst into them and beat himself with his own mistakes. Chances of Sousa getting caught on fire and fighting his way through this draw are slim to none.
Tony's Picks: Francis Tiafoe +1800
Mikhail Kukushkin +3300
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