The second round is upon us as the top players in the world compete in the year’s second Masters.
Let’s take a look at a pair of Friday matches that offer some intrigue from a betting perspective.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing tennis.
ATP Miami Odds, Picks
Casper Ruud (-270) vs Ilya Ivashka (+210)
7 p.m. ET
The night match features one of the world’s top players in Casper Ruud, taking on Ilya Ivashka, who crushed qualifier Daniel Altmaier in his opening round match.
After a prolonged losing skid, the Belarusian has actually won three of his past four, with the loss coming in three sets to Daniil Medvedev, who was in the midst of his incredible win streak.
Ivashka has a decent serve and forehand, but in the past few years he’s really managed to up his game on the backhand (though it can still produce too many errors in some matches) and improve his consistency from the baseline.
That should be key in this one, as Ruud — who is relatively out of form by his standards — has one of the weaker backhand wings amongst the players in the world’s top-20, but can certainly coax errors from those not capable of playing prolonged rallies without making mistakes.
One can only wonder if the Norwegian has played a bit too much in the past year. He took a break after the Australian Open and skipped the Golden Swing on clay, but he still hasn’t looked like himself on the court.
He’s already lost to Cristian Garin (+315 underdog), Taro Daniel (+245), Jenson Brooksby (+215) and Laslo Djere (+390) this season, all in the early stages of events.
At this point, Rudd has shown he can’t be trusted as a big favorite. I’ll fade him here.
Pick: Ivashka Moneyline (+210 via FanDuel)
Alexander Zverev (-525) vs Taro Daniel (+370)
8:30 p.m. ET
Alexander Zverev, who appears to be getting closer to his former self, is also playing the night session.
He squares off with Taro Daniel, as the Japanese wild card moved through to the second round after just five games when his opening round opponent retired.
The world No. 97 had been struggling prior to Acapulco and Indian Wells, where his ability to grind players down saw him find a slew of victories in qualifying, as well as main draw action on the slow courts.
While Miami offers medium slow courts, the matchup with Zverev is a tough one. Waiting out errors isn’t the optimal strategy against someone with Zverev’s rally tolerance.
In terms of attacking tennis, Daniel lacks weapons. Meanwhile, Zverev has one of the better backhands in the game and his tall frame allows him to hit massive first serves, meaning the German is far more likely to find cheap points on serve.
As a strong defender and returner, Zverev should be able to apply constant pressure in Daniel’s service games, which is needed if one is going to cover a rather large spread like -4.5.
Considering the main concern with Zverev was his rust, his runs in Dubai (to the semifinals, losing to a top-10 player in Andrey Rublev) and Indian Wells (to the fourth round, losing to Medvedev in a tight third set) provide plenty of reassurance he’s closer to his old form than he’s been in quite some time.
I’ll lay the games here as my numbers show Zverev winning this one by margin more often than not.
Pick: Zverev -4.5 (+115 via DraftKings)
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