Apr 8, 2022
Tournament Previews

Weekend Warriors: Houston, Charleston, Mexico City, Salinas & Marrakech Betting Tips


The official opening week of clay-court season has gone about as well as expected. Piss-poor. In addition to some bad reads, the differing conditions—Houston’s shitty red clay, Mexico City altitude and pressure-less balls, Charleston weather and green clay—combined with many players simply aiming to find their footing and hit some balls before heading to Europe, has resulted in a difficult week. Not just for myself, either. Seemingly every tennis handicapper is struggling to stay afloat this week, and certainly nobody is “crushing” it. It’s frustrating, but that must be expected during the abrupt shift from hardcourt to clay with little to no preparation time.

So instead of throwing more money down the drain, I’ve decided to create a mini-guide to this weekend’s betting. I’ve spoken to various people on-site about the conditions in Charleston, Mexico City, and Houston, and will try and summarize their thoughts about the conditions and what to look for if you plan to bet the semifinals and finals this weekend. I would recommend taking a break and simply observing, but watching tennis with no action is boring, and certainly not why you consume my content.

ATP Houston

Let’s start with Houston. We know for sure they are using Dunlop balls, which were also used in Miami and Australia. These balls are light and maneuverable, and certainly reward big hitting and serving, especially when fresh. As far as clay-courts go, if you can even call it that, this one is very quick, and inconsistent bounces reward big-serving and heavy kickers. The scorelines and results in Houston have been all over the place, so for the love of God, lower the stakes.

The clay was described as choppy and wet, and so far it seems that Cristian Garin’s effort and intensity level is the highest among the competitors. I guess all it takes to break out of a slump is to play Americans and Australians on shitty clay at a 250. Garin’s matchup today vs Taylor Fritz is interesting, but I wish Garin’s price was a bit more rewarding to take a shot against the red-hot American.

After retiring from his match against Francisco Cerundolo, I have definitely been impressed with Reilly Opelka’s rally tolerance and movement, and according to the ELO ratings he is the favorite to win this event.

ATP Marrakech

If you were to place a big pre-match bet, I think Marrakech is the safest place to do so. After crazy winds early in the week, conditions here seem to be the best of any tournament, and the clay court is playing slow and true. Laslo Djere is playing with great confidence, depth, and consistency, and has covered his spread in each of his three consecutive straight-set victories. Alex Molcan is looking extremely comfortable on the dirt, and Federico Coria—while always a nightmare to predict—appears fit and engaged. David Goffin has finally strung together some victories, and has been a profitable bet all week, if you were brave enough to do so.

From what I have seen, the conditions in Marrrakech are the most consistent with what we see during the European clay swing. Heavy and slow.

WTA Charleston

The green Har-Tru clay courts in Charleston are actually some of the best in the world. They play really well, with hardly any bad bounces. On the quicker side for “clay”, they reward power and the ability to maneuver the ball off the sides of the court, as it is extremely difficult to recover back to the middle once stretched to the sidelines. I certainly would not want to play Ons Jabeur there, especially in the evening when it’s cooler temperatures. Jabeur is not the most reliable player in late stages of a tournament, but her skill set—power and finesse— is a match made in heaven for the slippery surface. If she can survive Kalinina this afternoon, she should be an extremely tough out.

Mexico City Challenger

Played at extreme altitude with pressure-less balls, this might be the most nightmarish tournament from a betting perspective I can remember. My advice is to just avoid it at all costs. A competitor simply said "you can either put the ball in the court or you can’t, and somedays you can and somedays you can’t.” That’s enough for me to simply move on and focus on the other events. God Bless Nick Chappell, who handed me a few losses in juniors, but if he is points away from beating Top-200 players on clay, good luck handicapping this one.

Salinas, Ecuador Challenger

There is always the home-court Roberto Quiroz angle, who was born about two hours from Salinas. I assume that he is staying with his cousin and fellow USC Trojan Emilio Gomez, and it is looking like they will face each other in the final. That should be a fun one, if they make it there.

This tournament is played on a standard slow hardcourt, with warm temperatures in the low 80’s. Nicolas Moreno de Alboran played collegiate tennis at UC Santa Barbara and reached a top-15 NCAA singles rank, which is not easy to do from a relatively small school that doesn’t compete in the ACC/SEC powerhouse ranking circle-jerk. If you crack the top 15 from a minor conference, you can play. His name sounds like a clay-courter, but his hard-court ability is legitimate.

All in all it is a horrific week for tennis betting, as players motivation levels in the first week of clay season, especially after two consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments, are mediocre at best and tough to get a read on. Hopefully you find this helpful, and kudos to the cappers doling out full cards this week, as it is NOT in their best interest to do so. I have absolutely no fucking clue who should win over the weekend, so I decided to share what I know conditions-wise instead. Best of luck if you choose to bet this toughest of weeks.