That’s right, tennis is BACK, and Draftkings is diving right into it with another nice $5,000 prize to first for their Abu Dhabi and Antalya slate. During the brief offseason, I have invented some brand new metrics to add to my player evaluation arsenal, including a match win% model! You will definitely want to check them out via our subscriber’s only chat room, but you will at least get a taste of my new offerings in my articles.
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Format: Player Name (Draftkings Salary, Draftkings American Betting Odds as of publication)
Matteo Berrettini ($11,300, -5000)
While I am not excited to say so, Berrettini is the clear elite play of this slate. His sportsbook numbers are what you would call “completely bananas”, with an absurd money line and a miniscule 18 games total. Before you get too excited, I will say that his odds seem a little too good to be true. A -5000 moneyline is really unusual for a Bo3 match, even against a scrub, and Berrettini’s serve-leaning skillset doesn’t necessarily lead to low game totals. Still, a 6-2 6-2 shellacking is far from out of reach for the Italian. Plus his awesome serve is going to bump up any performance up a notch with a high ace and low double fault count. I’m not going to lock him in by any means, but he figures to easily have the state’s highest median outcome which makes him the most efficient salary sink on the board. Just don’t go out of the way to fit him in if you cannot make the salary work.
Jan-Lennard Struff ($9,900, -500)
Struff is another play I am on the fence about, which is a common theme for my picks tonight. Struff is another plus server, with a commendable 3 to 1 ace-double fault ratio on the year. He’s far from an Isner type, but that serve is good enough in Bo3 scoring that it’s worth mentioning.
Oh yeah, he’s also a pretty good player. He’s the #38 player in the world via Universal Tennis Rating, and his metrics also line up well. His 10-5 record and 1.19 dominance ratio vs. men ranked 10-100 paint a picture of a guy that occasionally falters on his play but comes through big when he does not. There is certainly some risk he plays down to his opponents level, but my model likes him enough that he’s still projected to prevail in this matchup over 90% of the time. Its let me down before (curse you, Brady!), but that’s still one of the highest marks on the slate.
The other downside to this spot is Struff’s opponent, Pavel Kotov, is coming in warm through qualifiers. The talent gap here is huge and Struff should easily come through with a solid score, but if Struff is not completely fit returning from break, Kotov could possibly get the jump on Struff with an early lead.
Leylah Annie Fernandez ($8,800, -200)
Considering her track record, I am still fully prepared to attack Zidansek and her weak serve on any hard surface. I realize she did manage to somehow upset Brady, but her performance seemed to be fueled largely by unsustainable runs in first serve percentage and break chances. Sure, Brady choked and played down to her level, but there’s no doubt that Zidansek was the recipient of some good fortune and that I am not as enthralled by that upset as I would be based on that result alone.
Anyway, back to Fernandez. She’s coming off a round 1 victory that was just as easy as it looked on paper, and her matchup against Zidansek looks to be another potential smash spot. The best part is the market is really high on Zidansek after today, which has resulted in an implied win% that is in the mere 60’s on betting markets while my model pegs her chances as in the 80’s. This means Fernandez looks to have serious upside yet only has the salary of a higher medium play. Of course, there’s the risk that Fernandez has some double fault issues or that Zidansek has really figured out on this surface, but those are risks I’m eager to take to pit Fernandez’s generally solid hard court game against Zidansek’s generally weak one.
Alize Cornet ($8,000, -150)
Another mid-tier option my model and I are particularly fond of is Alize Cornet. Her generally solid hard court game was plenty good to beat her lower ranked opponent 6-2 6-2. She appears to be in a good spot to follow that win up with another as she faces Paula Badosa.
Badosa pulled an “upset” versus Sevastova, who herself has been in some really shaky form as of late despite her generally solid reputation. She will need to up her game against Cornet, who performed to a 5-6 record and .92 DR against 10-100 ranked competition despite some fairly tough matchups. Badosa, a clay specialist by trade, had a much more mixed performance. She is close to untested at the highest level on the surface, going a total of 7-6 on the surface on the year despite the lion’s share of her matches taking place against low ranked challenger-level players. An in-form Cornet will be a tough nut for her to crack.
As only a -150 favorite, Cornet has a very affordable $8,000 salary. Both women possess a rather weak serve, which sets up great for GPPs since it creates more breakpoint variance and a higher range of outcomes. Cornet is my preferred play here since I think her odds are a little short (could maybe be in the -200 or -250 range), but it’s far from crazy to roster Badosa to see if she can do some damage to Cornet’s iffy 61% career hold rate.
Bernarda Pera ($6,800, +110)
Pera’s opponent Tormo is admittedly coming into this match in pretty good form, but my model likes Pera’s chances (it places it as a complete toss up), and Tormo’s atrocious serve gives quite a sizable boost to Pera’s upside. For that reason, I do not think Pera goes particularly underowned, but she is priced to move for sure.
Jeremy Chardy ($6,600, +120)
This is such an ugly match. Chardy is old and seems washed up, while Albot has been battling injuries and has been playing pretty bad tennis. Coincidentally, the pair share an identical Universal Tennis Rating and my model thinks this one is a total toss up. I’ll probably pass on watching this one, but I’ll gladly take the considerable salary relief and value Chardy could have here.
Dimitar Kuzmanov ($6,400, +145)
Kuzmanov is a practically unknown qualifier, which is normally someone I pass on instantly unless they are playing a weak opponent. Laslo Djere might fit that bill, as he’s a clay specialist that’s been bad enough the past year that he’s certainly earned the status of a merely medium favorite against an unknown. Considering Kuzmanov is coming into this contest warm through qualifiers and doesn’t share Djere’s massive clay court preference, I think he’s worth a look at a very low price and likely relatively low ownership.
Michael Vrbensky ($5,800, +205)
Vrbensky is another qualifier that has the privilege of entering the main draw warm. Is he good? I mean, probably not for the tour level, but his 14.42 Universal Tennis rating is acceptable for a challenger level guy. With Fognini being in severely dubious form (he’s 1-6 since last February and it’s anybody’s guess how much he worked out over the break), it seems worth to throw some darts with Vrbensky whether or not you can even correctly pronounce or even spell his last name.
Kirsten Flipkens ($4,900, +400), Ajla Tomljanovic, ($4,800, +425)
I don’t have any juicy underdog angles here. These two are good enough players that they can pull the W if their opponents fail to show, and they are close to the minimum in terms of salary and likely in ownership as well.