The final grand slam of the 2022 tennis season is around the corner, but before we get to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the US Open, the ATP Tour has a pair of stops in Montreal and then Cincinnati.
The weather has already impacted Round 1 of the National Bank Open, so match times could be all over the place on Tuesday. Nonetheless, there are a couple of underdogs worth backing in the first round:
Time: TBD, no earlier than 11 a.m. ET
Matteo Berrettini has enjoyed a career-defining campaign in 2022. The 26-year-old Italian has won two titles, made it to the semi-final of the Australian Open and won 75% of the matches he’s played (21-7). Berrettini’s form seemed to be peaking at the perfect time, too, as the big-server from Rome was one of the favorites to win Wimbledon.
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However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Berrettini tested positive for Covid-19 before Wimbledon and had to withdraw. Rather than wallow in the All-England disappointment, Berrettini got right back on the horse at Gstaad, making the final before bowing out to top-seed Casper Ruud.
Berrettini is usually quite dependable on serve, he’s won 88% of his service games on hard surfaces over the last 52 weeks, but Pablo Carreno Busta is not an easy opponent to blast through. The tireless Spaniard does a great job of defending and extending rallies, which is not the way Berrettini wants his matches to go.
Berrettini is a terrific player on hard courts — he’s made the semifinals in both hard-court slams — but his 55.1% win rate on hard surfaces lags behind his greatness on clay and on grass. Carreno Busta’s return rate has dipped this year, but it’s still quite respectable at 22% on hard courts.
Defeating Matteo Berrettini comes down to navigating his service games and forcing him into long rallies, and Carreno Busta has the skillset to tick both of those boxes. Tennis Abstract gives the Spaniard a 36% chance of upsetting Berrettini, while the odds imply Carreno Busta has roughly a 33% chance of winning.
The Bet: Pablo Carreno Busta +190 (BetMGM)
Time: TBD, no earlier than 11 a.m. ET
There’s a lot to love about Maxime Cressy’s serve-and-volley style of tennis. When it’s working, it feels balletic. But when it’s off, things can fly off the rails very quickly.
And that’s always the risk you run when you bet on, or against, Cressy.
You can never be 100% sure of what version of any tennis player will show up for a given match, but the error bars on Cressy are extreme. If his serve is even a little off, he will be in big trouble, especially against a high-ceiling player like Aslan Karatsev.
And while he’s fairly classified as an inconsistent player, there are some things you can feel pretty safe about when it comes to forecasting a Maxime Cressy match. He will create quick, cheap points with his serve, but he will also double-fault enough to present his opponent with opportunities to break him.
Like Cressy, Aslan Karatsev can be a maddening player to handicap. When Karatsev is at his best, he can be unplayable. But all too often the Russian’s game abandons him and he makes needless errors early in rallies. That’s been the case recently for Karatsev, whose lost two opening round matches on the spin against weaker opponents.
Despite the gap in recent form between these two, there’s plenty that points to this being a pretty close match between two players who could implode at any second. But if the game stays relatively on script, the likely outcome is that both players will be able to consistently hold their serve and we’re likely to see a tiebreak or two, which means it’s fair to say this match is pretty close to a coin flip (Tennis Abstract has it 50.7% for Cressy).
The Bet: Aslan Karatsev +158 (FanDuel)
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