Challenger Kenitra – Oriol Roca vs Javier Marti
It’s 1/2 for this week for previews after Evgeniya Rodina’s very disappointing performance in Quebec City last night, and today we move into the Challenger Tour to find a strong handicap betting proposition.
In Kenitra, Morocco, play in the semi-finals starts at around mid-day UK time and I can make a case for both favourites being statistical value, being much more accomplished at this level than their opponents.
However, I want to focus on the opening match between Oriol Roca and Javier Marti, where there is the relatively unusual situation of the favourite, and significantly better player, being much lower ranked.
This is solely down to Marti being injured for long periods since 2013 and the Spanish clay specialist has excellent 3 year stats on the surface at Challenger level, holding 69.7% and breaking 38.9% (combined 108.6%). This would make him about top 60 in the world on his favoured surface.
He’s already shown this year that he has no issues getting to a high level after injury lay-off, making the final of the Casablanca Challenger in January after an absence of 18 months from the tour. Home favourite Lamine Ouahab defeated him in the final, but Marti also has demonstrated then, and this week, that conditions in Morocco are to his liking. A straight-set win over the excellent clay courter (at this level), Damir Dzumhur, was a particularly notable scalp.
I feel opponent Roca is being over-rated following a 3-set win over Facundo Arguello yesterday. There are no streams from Kenitra this week but it’s pretty reasonable to assume something happened to Arguello in-play, with the Argentinian a double break 5-2 up in the first set before being taken to a tie-break, which he won. However Roca then demolished Arguello 6-0 6-2 in the second and third sets. Roca also had the benefit of Gianluca Naso picking up an injury in the second round.
There is very little statistical evidence that Roca can play at a high level. He’s never played an ATP main draw match, and his record in ATP qualifiers and Challenger main draw/qualifiers is very unimpressive (70.9% holds and 20.9% breaks).
Clearly there is a big ability differential here which makes the 1.60 about Marti this afternoon look very generous. Historical stats are hard to come by for a player that has missed long periods of action but he’s got a solid track record of covering large handicap lines when a slight favourite. In this price range, he’s covered -4.5 games 7/13 times since January 2013, and -2.5 games 8/13 times.
I feel a split stake on these outcomes is worthwhile. Currently, -2.5 games is 1.93, whilst -4.5 games is a very generous 2.50.
Recommendation: Back Javier Marti -2.5 games at 1.93, and -4.5 games at 2.50 (split stake)
Prices correct at time of writing.
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