It is Day Three of this week’s tournaments, and we’ll get to see a ton of top talent on display. Over the next few weeks, the players will adapt back to the hard courts in preparation for the US Open. Both the men and women will be playing on the hard courts the week, with the tournament taking place in Canada. The third slate of this tennis DFS week has 20 matches with ATP and WTA players in action.
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Kei Nishikori (DraftKings $9,600; FanDuel $20)
Kei Nishikori has been one of the most consistent players on the ATP tour throughout his career, and his record this year reflects that. The ATP world number six is 27-11 on the year while taking down a title in Brisbane. He is 13-5 on the hard courts, with all losses coming to top 50 opponents. Nishikori hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon, so he should be well rested going into the US Open.
Nishikori will start his hard court campaign back up against Richard Gasquet, the ATP world number 66 from France. Gasquet has played just one hard court match since October due to an injury stint, but he did impress in his first match back. He took down the erratic Benoit Paire in the first round in Montreal 7-6 6-2, while losing just one service game. Gasquet is 11-8 on the hard courts this season, with one loss coming to Nishikori. Gasquet does own a 7-3 record against Nishikori, but Kei has a 3-1 advantage over the last three years. I’m going with the rested, more in-form player in Nishikori to win in straight sets.
Roberto Bautista Agut (DraftKings $8,900; FanDuel $19)
Roberto Bautista Agut has been stellar on the hard courts over the last 12 months, with a 23-11 record while taking down the title in Doha. Only two losses were to players ranked outside the top 20, and he managed to take down three top 10 players. Bautista Agut was outstanding in his first round match in Montreal, with a 6-3 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic. He fired down aces at a 15% rate and won 71% of all service points, while not dropping a service game. I fully expect the Spaniard to make a deep run in Montreal, and it’ll probably take a top five player to take him down.
Roberto will face off against Diego Schwartzman, the ATP world number 23. Schwartzman was rather inconsistent on the hard courts before his tournament win last week in Los Cabos, with a 13-13 record over the last 12 months. Diego was nothing short of great this last week as he took down two top 25 players on his way to the title. However, the fatigue was shown in his first match against Marco Cecchinato today as he faced 11 break points. Diego served double faults at a 5% rate and won just 46% of second serve points, and he can’t afford that against Bautista Agut. It’s hard to make Schwartzman make a mistake, but Roberto is better at that game. I expect Bautista Agut to win in straight sets.
Stan Wawrinka (DraftKings $8,400; FanDuel N/A)
Stan Wawrinka is back in action, as the second best player from Switzerland is trying to get in the hard court groove before going for a second US Open title. Stan the Man has skyrocketed up the rankings over the last 12 months while coming back from an injury stint, going from 195 to his current world number 21 ranking. He made a finals run in Rotterdam just a few months ago, but fell short to Gael Monfils. Wawrinka is 6-5 over the last year against top 20 players, which shows he still has it in him. His first match in Montreal was another day in the office, as he took down Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-4 while losing just one service game.
Stan will have a second round meeting with Karen Khachanov, the ATP world number eight from Russia. Since his stellar run in October, Khachanov has came back down to reality with a 7-7 record on the hard courts. He is riding a three loss streak on the surface, and this match will be one that he has struggled with in the past. Stan is 2-0 over Khachanov, with both matches being on the hard courts at the end of 2018. Wawrinka is in much better shape and form now, so I’d expect the same result. Wawrinka should get this match done in straight sets, for the third straight time against Karen.
Possible upset/value plays: Borna Coric (DraftKings $7,800; FanDuel N/A)
Borna Coric is one of the rising stars on the ATP tour, and while he’s been struggling on the clay courts, he’s bound to get back on track on his favorite surface. Coric is 23-13 on the hard courts over the last 12 months, while taking down two top five players including the great Roger Federer. Coric has his ups and downs, but when he’s on he is dangerous. His first match back on the hard courts was against an in-form Peter Gojowczyk, and he managed to make it out in a third set tiebreaker. Coric lost two service games in the first set but after that he was stellar, so let’s hope that momentum continues.
His second match is against Adrian Mannarino, the ATP world number 69 from France. Mannarino has not been great on the hard courts in 2019, with a 6-11 record while losing to three players ranked outside the top 100. He is holding serve at a 75% rate while winning just 68% of first serve points, and that won’t be good enough against Coric. Mannarino is 3-0 against Coric, but two wins were on grass and the lone hard court match was in early 2017. Coric is the much better player in this matchup, and now that he has a match under his belt I think he’ll get on a roll.
Best of luck!