Tennis Wagering Advice: ATP Tour Top Wagers for Dubai, Mexico, and Chile

Novak Djokovic, winner of the Australian Open, will make his ATP Tour return this week in Dubai, and Andy Schooler recaps all the action.

ATP Tour – Dubai Duty Free Championships

For the favorites, it’s been a long couple of weeks.

ATP Tour - Dubai Duty Free Championships

As of this writing, the jollies have won the last five ATP events, and Carlos Alcaraz has a good chance of making it six in Rio.

With Novak Djokovic in the field this week in Dubai, another fan-favorite is likely to enter, and as always, it will take a bold man to challenge him.

Djokovic appeared to rather canter to the Australian Open title last month. It looked like no one had the talent, or belief, to beat him, despite a hamstring injury acquired in the early rounds.

Even though Djokovic has an incredible record in Melbourne (it was his tenth win there), he has also been very successful at this tournament, winning it five times, most recently in 2020.

While it’s not unusual to see the Serb with odds of 5/6, my instinct is to be skeptical of betting on anyone at odds of odds-on to win a tennis championship.

Djokovic’s month-long absence from the court is a major cause for concern, as he confessed just last week.

He has a favorable draw to start the tournament, with Tomas Machac up first, followed by either Tallon Griekspoor or Constant Lestienne.

But, there are others in his half with the potential to challenge the global leader.

Hubert Hurkacz, who he would face in the quarterfinals, is coming in hot off a title win in Marseille and reached the semifinals here a year ago.

Then, Daniil Medvedev might be waiting for you in the last four. He is getting back to his best form, but can he win three ATP titles in as many weeks after consecutive victories in Rotterdam and Doha?

If you’re looking for a high-priced underdog to take on Djokovic, you could do worse than Borna Coric, who has reached the Dubai semifinals three times.

Coric, who has extreme swings in form, is 50/1 this week, however bettors should keep in mind that he withdrew from Doha last week still nursing a hip injury. Coric won the Cincinnati Masters last year.

My strategy here is to find the finalist from the lower half of the draw, despite the fact that layers are only paying one-third of the odds for a place in the final due to Djokovic’s odds-on status.

Felix Auger-Aliassime is the favorite to win it all, but the Canadian has battled to find his form since the start of the year. However, he did advance to the semifinals last week in Doha, where Medvedev defeated him in straight sets.

The DecoTurf II courts here are marginally quicker than those in Qatar, but you still have to deal with conditions slowing down at night, so match scheduling is important.

The defending champion, Andrey Rublev, is another player whose form makes me content to look past him; he has gone 1-2 since the Australian Open, and both Filip Krajinovic and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina appear to be difficult opponents in the first two rounds here.

Finally, we might see Karen Khachanov.

This week’s competition will be his first since reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, so I’m looking forward to seeing him play.

If he can duplicate that kind of shape, he might have a shot here, but what are the odds of it happening?

Khachanov has only made it to the quarterfinals once in six previous appearances to Melbourne after reaching the semifinals at the US Open last September.

If I were betting on him this week, I’d want better odds than 14/1.

Instead, I’ll give JIRI LEHECKA another shot after he joined this column’s lengthy list of heartbreaking semi-final losers in Doha last week. Even by our standards, JIRI’s loss was something to behold.

Three of the Czech’s match points came with him serving at 5-4, 40-0 in the deciding set of their “money match” against Andy Murray, but he blew all five.

Obviously, such a loss can leave deep scars, but if you can get past that, Lehecka has a lot going for it.

His recent run, in which he defeated Rublev, follows a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open, in which he defeated seeds Borna Coric, Cam Norrie, and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

With a 10-3 record across all competitions this year, he has nothing to worry about in his first-round match against Alex Zverev, who also fell in the first round last week as he struggles to regain his form after missing six months due to injury.

Betfred’s odds of 28/1 on Lehecka winning are the best in the bottom area because he is playing well and is accustomed to the Middle Eastern conditions. There are also people in their 25s.

ATP Tour – Abierto Mexicano Telcel

With ten tournaments under its belt since making the transition from clay to hardcourts, it’s clear that there’s something for everyone at this event.

Baseline fighters like David Ferrer have been victorious on the somewhat slow Solflex surface, but powerful serves like Nick Kyrgios and Alex Zverev have also prevailed.

With Rafael Nadal’s victory a year ago, Carlos Alcaraz is the odds-on favorite to retain and keep the championship in Spain.

Although he has had a successful comeback to the circuit over the past two weeks, having won in Buenos Aires and coming in second in Rio on Sunday, I don’t see why anyone would want to bet him this week at 5/1.

At the final in Rio, he was visibly bothered by a leg injury, and thereafter, he disclosed that it was the same problem that had forced him to withdraw from the Australian Open earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s withdrawal wouldn’t be unexpected, especially with two Masters 1000 tournaments scheduled for the month of March.

Even if he does play, Alcaraz will have to adjust to playing on hardcourts rather than his usual clay, where he has lost four sets in nine matches over the past two weeks.

Alcaraz also faces historical odds, since only two other players have won three ATP titles in as many weeks during the past decade.

He’s been really laying low this week.

Runner-up in 2020, Taylor Fritz, is also in the top half of the draw and is second or third in most markets; in fact, Unibet has made him its jolly.

After winning the title on outdoor hard in Delray Beach a week prior, he brings with him the kind of huge serve that has helped others win here in the past.

But, the draw has pitted him against fellow American John Isner in the opening round; Isner holds a 3-2 advantage in their head-to-head matchup and has previously advanced to the semifinals.

As the outcome of that match could hinge on a small number of points, I see no reason to take the 5/1 on Fritz winning the match outright.

For a long shot in this segment, I think it’s worth throwing some spare coin at MARCOS GIRON at 75s despite Isner, the recent runner-up in Dallas, being enticing at 80/1.

He’s had a good season so far, advancing to the semifinals in three of five tournaments he’s competed in. While he ultimately lost to Cameron Norrie in Auckland, he did push Fritz to three sets in Dallas.

While Giron’s 2022 defeat to Stefanos Tsitsipas was no shame, he will recall his triumph over top-20 player Pablo Carreno Busta en route to the final eight in Acapulco.

If we’re being realistic, Giron will lose again to a top player, but he’s also in a section with Alcaraz, whose bid I’ve already criticized, and Tommy Paul, who was decimated by Radu Albot in his previous match but whom Giron has beaten three out of four times.

I think Giron is worth a shot for the price.

Now that we’ve reached the bottom half, I almost backed the aforementioned Norrie.

His success on the Solflex is a reflection of how well it complements his game; he finished second to Nadal in this tournament a year ago and reached the semi-finals this year before losing to Federer.

In 2021, Norrie triumphed on the same court at the ATP event held in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Yet, he faces the same issue as Alcaraz: he has just come off the clay and has played in two consecutive finals in the past two weeks.

I can’t go for the 8/1 because of that and the fact that Matteo Berrettini and Holger Rune are in his quarter.

The betting odds favor Berrettini (11/2) to advance to the final, followed closely by Rune (13/2) and Casper Ruud (8/1).

While Berrettini has yet to play since his first round Australian Open loss, Rune was last seen limping out of Rotterdam, and Ruud’s 2-3 record thus far in 2023 doesn’t inspire confidence. After Melbourne, he hasn’t played either.

I think ALEX DE MINAUR is expensive at 40/1 since he has a chance to win.

The slow surface suits his retrieving game well, and he has had a decent season so far.

When he last competed on outdoor hard court at the Australian Open, he made it to the round of 16 before losing to Novak Djokovic, who was having a career-best tournament. He has lately switched to playing indoors and has reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam and Marseille. He defeated Andrey Rublev and Maxime Cressy in Rotterdam before losing to Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 in the third set.

I think he has a good shot of at least entering the quarterfinals since the sun will make him feel better and because he is in the same section as Ruud.

More intermediate sadness may be ahead, but if that’s what it takes to get to the end, I’m willing to pay the price.

ATP Tour – Movistar Chile Open

This week features the wide-open Chile Open, which concludes the month-long ‘Golden Swing’ of claycourt tournaments in South America.

Notwithstanding Carlos Alcaraz and Cameron Norrie’s recent success—the duo made it all the way to the finals in both Rio and Buenos Aires—a new victor will emerge.

Sebastian Baez, winner of the Cordoba leg of this swing, could be the one to do it.

I’m sure he’ll have his backers, even at 6/1, given that he reached the final here a year ago and also reached the quarter-finals of the 500-level event in Rio last week.

Nonetheless, it’s a little short, especially because plenty of players in this draw are more than adept on the red dirt.

The same holds true for Nicolas Jarry, whom I also admire.

With the Chilean’s outstanding tennis performance in Rio last week, I had expecting to see him at a double-digit price here.

He got through qualifying, then overcame Lorenzo Musetti and Baez to reach the quarterfinals, when he came within a set of upsetting eventual champion Alcaraz.

But, he is in a tough part of the draw, where he must face the likes of defending champion Pedro Martinez and the red-hot Bernabe Zapata Miralles (a semi-finalist in both Rio and Buenos Aires).

One of those players might be waiting for Jarry in the quarterfinals, but he first has to get past Juan Pablo Varillas and Diego Schwartzman. Varillas was the other beaten semi-finalist in Buenos Aires, and as a Peruvian, he would no doubt love to topple the home hope here.

Discussing the terms and conditions now will be beneficial.

Compared to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, which are both located at sea level, the mountainous regions will be very dissimilar.

Located on the outskirts of Santiago, at an elevation of roughly 1,000 meters, this venue is in the foothills of the Andes.

This elevation advantage could aid Jarry’s serve, a lethal weapon in full swing.

At 7/1, he’s too short, so I’ll stick with an old standby: ALBERT RAMOS-VINOLAS.

Some of you may be listening to a stuck record when I said I backed the Spaniard in Cordoba earlier this month, despite his semi-final loss at a higher altitude. Wow, that’s unexpected.

It’s safe to assume he’ll have a good time in these conditions, given he advanced to the semifinals of this competition both in 2019 and 2020.

Seven of his eleven career finals appearances have been in tournaments played at substantial altitude, further proving my claim.

In these kinds of situations, ball control is essential, and it can throw off even the most powerful hitters, but Ramos-Vinolas is a pro at it.

While ARV and top seed Musetti are both in the same quarter, Musetti has only won one of three matches since traveling to South America, and he also trails ARV 2-1 in their head-to-head matchup.

I can’t pass up 20/1 on a proven performer in these circumstances for tennis betting, especially since the veteran may have few more opportunities to win such titles; he’s playing great right now at age 35, but how long he keeps this up is anyone’s guess.

We should show our support for him now.