Henri Laaksonen vs Jan-Lennard Struff Picks, Predictions ATP Basel Odds 10/23/2019
2.30 pm EST, 23rd October 2019
Hard courts (Indoor)
ATP tournament being held in your home country is a great opportunity for lower-ranked players to get a wildcard and an opportunity to win some significant ranking points, accompanied by substantial prize money. Henri Laaksonen didn't do very well at taking advantage of this opportunity in the past. He was 1-6 in Basel prior to 2019, with his only win achieved last year over Marco Cecchinato in the first round. This time around, the draw decided that he'll face Benoit Paire, who is also a resident of Switzerland but plays under the French flag. Laaksonen was a big underdog in that match but came out on top in straight sets. He performed on a decent level, but nothing spectacular. He gladly took advantage of all the gifts that Paire offered him in this match. Frenchman committed too many unforced errors and also served dreadfully (5 double faults and only 31% of points won behind 2nd serve).
He will have an opportunity to reach his best result in Basel against Jan Lennard Struff. German also won quite comfortably in the first round. He defeated Serbian player Miomir Kecmanovic, conceding only 6 games in the process. It was a bit surprising, considering his mediocre form lately. He was great on grass and during the American hard-court swing. But after that, he cooled down a bit and lost 4 out of his last 5 matches. But these conditions obviously suit his game really well and Kecmanovic was simply outmatched here. 21 aces and 89% of points won behind the first serve was simply too good and Miomir couldn't keep up with that. During rallies, Struff was hitting a very clean ball from both wings, injecting pace into the rally and taking away the time from Kecmanovic. It prevented him to get the ball into the corners, play the angles and construct the point properly. These fast conditions in Basel allow "bullies" like Struff to enforce their brand of tennis to their opponents and put them out of their comfort zone.
That obviously worked like a charm against Kecmanovic, but can Struff do it again vs Laaksonen? Swiss player might be a level below when talking about ranking and overall ability. But I believe that he could potentially handle Struff's power way better than his previous opponent. First of all, I think Henri is a very good server, so he should be able to get a lot of free points from his serve on these fast courts and keep it close on the scoreboard. Also, he is not the type of player that needs a lot of time to set his feet and take a swing at the ball. He can react well defensively when the opponent is throwing heat and trying to put him under pressure. Having a mean backhand slice and knowing when to mix it in is very important when playing against a heavy hitter like Jan-Lennard because giving him different looks can mess up his rhythm and draw unforced errors.
Betting odds & prediction
As expected, Struff was opened as a big favorite at -250 and actually got bet down even further all the way to -300. The market is obviously not impressed by Laaksonen's win over abysmal Paire. And neither am I. But I think that we shall not forget that Struff hasn't been doing that great either. He is walking on thin ice with his overly aggressive game, which is why I'm not too excited about laying this type of juice. Especially not in a spot with an opponent that matches up well against him and is playing in front of his crowd.
Pick: Henri Laaksonen +3.5 (-102)
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