Fernando Verdasco v Nick Kyrgios
These players had a competitive three set match at the Canadian Masters last year in Montreal and now Nick Kyrgios and Fernando Verdasco meet for a place in the Atlanta Semi Finals.
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I thought the layers may have had this as a pick ’em contest, in which case I would have left it alone, but I am not sure Fernando Verdasco should be as big an underdog as he is. The Spaniard has had a good summer and has been playing well, while his game is very suited to a slightly faster hard court.
Of course Nick Kyrgios’ game is going to be huge on this type of surface, but I am not convinced he is either fully healthy or fully focused on his tennis right now. I am not ashamed to say I am a fan of Kyrgios, but I also know he is going to be someone who has these hot and cold periods depending on his mood.
It was only last week that Kyrgios admitted that he hadn’t been practicing his tennis as much as he should be and his defeat against Denis Shapovalov in Toronto showed that. Someone like Verdasco has the big game to frustrate the Australian if he is still not fully at the races and I am going to back the veteran to keep this one competitive, even if he is not able to pull the upset as my gut is telling me he will.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Fernando Verdasco + 2.5 Games @ 2.07 with Pinnacle
Reilly Opelka v Donald Young
Reilly Opelka had the biggest win of his career to date in the last Round, when beating Kevin Anderson and the young American is looking to back that up by getting to his first ATP Semi Final. I do worry about backing players after a major win, especially when it comes in upset fashion and when the winning player is not used to winning matches of that magnitude, but Opelka has had a couple of days to move on from that.
The ‘New John Isner’ is how Opelka has been described and you can see why as he is of similar stature and bases his game around a big serve. While that will be an improving weapon as he fills out, Opelka still gets plenty of joy from that shot and will be hoping to use that to full effect against Donald Young who is likely to get more balls in play than Kevin Anderson.
The latter had success against the Opelka serve too, but it was his return game which impressed me the most, as Opelka broke the big South African serve four times and fashioned eighteen break points. That should be followed up against Young in this one, and I do think Opelka can keep this competitive.
Young got out of jail in the last Round and continues to struggle covering this number of games even in winning matches. His poor record in Atlanta has to be taken into account and Young will give Opelka chances to break serve, which is important when you consider how many games he is being asked to cover. With the Opelka serve, I am backing the new young gun of American tennis to beat the former Young gun.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Reilly Opelka + 3.5 Games @ 1.93 with Unibet
Prices correct at time of writing.