While WTA players have to take another break, the ATP circuit continues to play in Nur-Sultan and Vienna this week. The latter is an ATP 500 event, so it features a lot of the big names. Novak Djokovic is the top seed and local hero Dominic Thiem is seeded #2. Both will have to play their first round matches today, and if Thiem gets past Sachko, he will face the winner of Stan Wawrinka and Cristian Garin whose match I'm going to preview.
Wind of change
Cristian Garin was in brilliant form before the COVID-19 break when he won two consecutive ATP events on South American clay, beating Diego Schwartzman and Borna Coric in the finals of Cordoba and Rio de Janeiro. That resulted in him breaking into the top 20 for the first time in his career. It also showed that clay is still his best surface, but as I mentioned before, his game reminds me of Novak Djokovic's and therefore I see him doing well on hardcourts and maybe even grass as well in the future.
Last week, the young Chilean announced the end of his partnership with Andrés Schneiter who has been his mentor for the last two years. The Argentinian, who also coaches Juan Ignacio Londero and helped him reaching the top 50, had great impact on Garin, but it might be time for the Chilean to take the next step and get a full-time coach.
No easy wins for Wawrinka
While Garin is a workhorse and trained a lot during the break, his opponent Stan Wawrinka also showed his social media skills, making for some good laughs during these difficult times. On the tennis courts, both Garin and Wawrinka had some trouble after restart. Especially Wawrinka hardly managed to find a straight sets win. Even in the Challenger he won in Prague, he lost a set to all of Safiullin, Otte, Nagal and Vrbensky. In his first indoor tournament of the year in St. Petersburg, the Swiss was lucky to survive three consecutive match points against Evans and also dropped a set to Donskoy before losing in straight sets to Shapovalov.
This non-existent consistency makes it hard for me to justify odds of -333 on Wawrinka. He never had the greatest success indoors throughout his career and facing a talented player like Garin, I could see another close affair here. I'll split a unit on Garin to win the match at +265 and to win a set at +104.