Elite Tennis Preview: Teenagers Chung And Ćorić Valuable Options Tonight
Congrats to Novak Djokovic, after securing his sixth Aussie Open title early Sunday morning in Melbourne, defeating rival Andy Muray in straight sets.
This week, we shift gears -- and time zones -- and find ourselves with three tournaments to play with in Quito, Sofia, and Montpellier.
Quito, now in its second year of existence, presents our first tour level clay tournament of the season -- with Tomic, Feli, Verdasco and Bellucci kicking off their seasons on the red stuff.
In Montpellier, we see a trio of top 25 Frenchman -- Gasquet, Simon, and Paire -- in the draw, along with World No. 13 Marin Čilić, who I personally fancy to take the title there.
Elsewhere, in Bulgaria, we see the first World Tour level tournament in Sofia -- boasting the likes of Troicki, Bautista-Agut, GGL and Seppi.
While these tournaments surely aren't three of the most prestigious on the ATP calendar, we'll have to make due with the matchups in front of us -- and I think we'll be able to find some winners while we're at it.
Let's get to it.
Season totals: 26-17 (60%) +9.78 units
Chung -150 over Copil
Those of you who have been following these previews for some time now know how high I am on the 19-year-old South Korean, and World No. 56, Hyeon Chung. I mean, even in his straight set defeat against the man who would go on to win the tournament, Novak Djokovic, Chung played a really clean match.
And, after taking a look back at Djokovic's results against both Roger and Murray, the teenager's match against the World No. 1 looks a lot more impressive. Early Tuesday morning, Chung squares off against Marius Copil in Sofia, Bulgaria.
To my surprise -- and enjoyment -- Chung opened as just a -150 favorite over the Romanian, which seems cheap, especially considering Copil's current form, or lack of any substantial form, really.
Chung's talent is simply not even in the same stratosphere as the World No. 214, and barring a terrible match in which the Korean beats himself, I can't see Marius Copil taking out our guy Chung.
Prediction: Chung in two (6-2, 6-3)
Ćorić -220 over Berrer
Granted, I typically like to stay away from -200s and bigger favorites -- in my opinion -- Borna Ćorić is a much better player compared to Michael Berrer than the line might suggest.
Despite getting the business early on in Melbourne, at the hands of Albert Ramos, it's easy to forget how strong of a start to the season the young Croat had -- including a trip to the final in Chennai where he met Stan Wawrinka.
In his match Tuesday morning in Montpellier, I can't see Berrer being able to match his level for any substantial amount of time. Berrer is 35 and declining rapidly; Ćorić, on the other hand, is a guy that many experts consider to be a future number one.
Similar to the Chung match, unless Ćorić utterly implodes and defeats himself, there's simply no chance that Berrer has the firepower to beat Ćorić by dictating points. Despite beating him twice in the past -- both times in Ćorić's native Croatia -- his game has come a long way since 2013 and 2014.
Prediction: Ćorić in two (6-3, 7-5)
Estrella +140 over Pella
It was brought to my attention yesterday that Victor Estrella Burgos might be the biggest underdog ever to attempt to defend a tournament -- after capturing the inaugural title in Quito last year.
@sportdw@Tennisratings@scottipippen@Stuckey2@So_Money_Sports@adctennis whats highest a champ has been to defend? Burgos +3300 in Quito — BigTenWatto (@BigTenWatto) January 31, 2016
And while I'm not so sure I fancy the Dominican's chances at repeating his title run of 2015, I do like him to get past his first round matchup in Guido Pella -- at pretty favorable odds.
Granted, I was pretty impressed with Pella's play at the Australian Open, I'm still not sold he can produce these types of positive results consistently.
Estrella, on the other hand, has proven he's capable of winning matches against lower-ranked players with more regularity.
It'll probably be a tight, ugly, match -- but, at these odds -- I'm willing to try my luck with the more proven player, in Estrella-Burgos.
Prediction: Estrella in three (6-3, 4-6, 6-4)