There are a couple of more weeks with at least average quality tennis to be played (ATP Challenger level), with the last one finishing 25th of November 2018, in Andria (Italy). This week we have 4 tournaments to be played, and nice to see such a well-balanced mixture, with two Challengers played indoors in Europe (Bratislava and Mouilleron le Captif), one played on hard outdoor in USA (Knoxville), and one in Uruguay on outdoor clay (Montevideo).
The match I will analyze today is the first-round match between two Frenchies, held in France. The match will have facing no. 53 in the world, Benoit Paire, and no. 209, Kenny De Schepper. Benoit Paire is a 29 years-old Frenchie, with a height of 196cm and using a Right-Handed Forehand and a Two-Handed Backhand. He is being coached, currently, by Jean-Charles Diame. Kenny De Schepper is a 31 years-old Frenchie, with a height of 203cm and using a Left-Handed Forehand and a One-Handed Backhand. He is being coached, currently, by Henri Fabrega.
Paire’s style of play is characterized by its flashiness, unpredictability and at times inconsistency. The main strength of his game is his double-handed backhand, known for its speed and spin. Paire often uses topspin backhands crosscourt at great speed and acute angles to set up a powerful backhand down-the-line to finish off points. In contrast, his forehand is relatively less powerful and consistent, particularly when played on the defense, to the extent that he’s been known to hit backhands inside-out. Paire is also known for his ability and willingness to play drop-shots often on both the forehand and backhand wing throughout matches. Paire possesses a powerful but inconsistent first serve and serves-and-volleys on occasion. Above all, Paire is known for his flashiness on the court. He is known to hit a variety of high-risk shots and trick shots, such as the frontal and back tweener, jumping tweener, drop shots that backspin towards the net and topspin backhands at extremely acute angles, even when unnecessary to win the point. Because of this, he often lightens the mood in matches and wins the crowd’s favor. Of course, because of the same flashy shots, he takes he is known to be one of the most inconsistent players on tour. He is also known to be a choker and to be losing his head when his shots don’t bring the desired results in a short time. He is a player that “loves a good tank”, and there are plenty of examples where he didn’t really bother to do anything on the court.
De Schepper’s style of play can be characterized almost to be opposite to this clash’s opponent. He is known to fight for every ball, run around the court from side to side and slicing, or hitting deep almost every ball, but rarely attacking for a winner, and only when in a great position. He is also known for his good serve that slides away from the opponent and having 2.03m and 104kg one can definitely assume that the power in the service is also very good. The only aspect that is worth mentioning is that Kenny had some back problems which have limit his swing and power used during his service motion. Nevertheless, he possesses a fine service, combined with a good defense and an excellent reach and touch at the net. His movement is shaky, but at least he has the head to fight till the end no matter what the result is.
Benoit Has played a lot of tennis this year, with 65 matches (won 32 matches) played in singles and 19 matches (won 9 of them) played in doubles. He had some average results during this year, like the SFs in Pune and Sydney in January, and couple of 3rd rounds in Masters tournaments. Since Wimbledon, he has struggled to find some form, winning only twice 2+ consecutive matches, and one of those times his opponent retired (Pospisil). The fact that he hasn’t played any Challenger Tour matches in 2018 shows us that his ranking level allowed him to get in many main-draws, or at least find some spots in the qualifications of all important matches. It is for the first time since 2008 where he didn’t play any Challenger matches the entire year (besides the actual one). Last year he played in April Sophia Antipolis Ch (lost the final to Bedene), and also the current event (Mouilleron-Le-Captif Challenger) where he retired in the first round 6-1 5-4 up to Romain Barbosa. Unfortunately for us, his results in this particular Challenger event are good, with a trophy in 2015, a semifinal in 2016 and that mentioned retirement in 2017. Fact is that he hasn’t really “crushed” any of his opponents, losing sets in 6/9 matches that have been finished. The other wins that occurred in straight sets, came against Lestienne (13-10), Janvier (12-8), and Eysseric (12-7). Paire managed to lose as the favorite in the past months to Struff (7-6 6-3 in Winston Salem), Maden (6-4 3-6 6-3 in Metz), Gerasimov (6-4 6-4 in Moskow), Popyrin (6-3 6-3 in Basel), and Fucsovics (6-4 6-4 in Paris Bercy). To top all these bad recent results he also had some physical problems during 2018 and took medical time-outs several times.
His current opponent would be clearly the underdog in any serious match between these two and is priced also 3.15 by Pinnacle to win this match. But… And here is a big but. De Schepper ties the direct meetings with Paire (2-2), both having won 1-each in the past 3 years. Paire won in Cherbourg Challenger (indoor back in the days Paire played a lot of these tournaments), while De Schepper won 2-1 in Umag last year (on clay- which is his worst surface of all to play on). To be perfectly honest, De Schepper had a shitty year in 2018, with a record of 27W-32L in singles and 4W-7L in doubles. He started the season with a semifinal in Noumea CHallenger and a final in Koblenz, but after that nothing fell the right way for this gentle giant. He got some good results recently, with a semifinal in Mallorca (start of September) and with a semifinal in Orleans (end of September). His past two matches have been both lost, being the favorite, both lost in close fashion 7-6 6-4, to Stakhovsky in Antwerp Q, and Bonzi in Eckental Challenger.
My main bet on this match, despite me thinking that “King Kenny” will win it, is the +3 Asian Handicap on the big lefty French player. Kenny has played a tie-break in 7 out of his last 8 indoor matches (the only one that had no tie-break was a clear win over Maden 6-0 6-4). He covered the +3 handicap in 7 out of the last 9 matches (but two of them were voids as mentioned before). The reason why the Asian Handicap is the main bet is that Paire is known to tank sets and lose them 6-1 or 6-2, which virtually would guarantee to win this bet. Benoit has a fairly inconsistent serve and the fact that this match will be played in an unimportant “venue” is also a bonus that can push him to tank. Of Course, Kenny is a limited player that can do only “this” much, but with a little help (which I am sure he will get) he might also get the win. Paire can get frustrated very rapidly and start hitting unforced-error after unforced-error. How do I see the match? I see some long rallies, easy holds from Kenny and a lot of unforced errors from Benoit from his forehand side. I don’t want to seem over-confident of this bet, but I think that Kenny will win it 6-2 7-6 or something like that, winning at least a set is a banker in my book.
Kenny De Schepper +3 games @ 1.91 with 10 units
(from Pinnacle via broker SportMarket)
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