We’ve discussed home-soil changes for the 2017 tennis season. Now let’s go deeper into the ATP and WTA tours to see what else is new and exciting for the whole year ahead. We’ll also add some betting perspective to hopefully spark some bright ideas.
The Hungarian Ladies Open, Budapest returns after a three-year hiatus. It replaces the Rio Open due to some criticism regarding overall player experience at last year’s joint ATP and WTA event. The men’s draw had no trouble attracting star names like Nadal and Ferrer but with the big money ‘Premier’ events of Dubai ($2.365m) and Doha ($710k) taking place the same week and the week before, respectively, it was deemed too difficult to attract the biggest names in the women’s game. The 2017 prize-moneys for these tournaments (stated) clearly show why; Dubai will hand out more than ten times that of what Budapest will ($226k – equal to that of the Rio Open 2016).
The ancient coastal city of Antalya in Turkey is to be a brand-new stop on the ATP tour; a grass-court 250 ATP ranking points tournament held the week before Wimbledon. It’s often suggested that some pros don’t exactly fully apply themselves to the green stuff – Antalya could be an attractive option for those who fancy a quick 1st round exit followed by a sly beach and/or golf jolly.
When tournament co-director Jean-Francios Caujolle said Open de Nice “looked like a garden party”, it was a sure sign that changes were to come. Add to this implied difficulties with expansion and spectator transportation (being staged the week prior to Roland Garros compounding these issues), the only option was to find a new home – Lyon was chosen.
As always with new tournaments one of the most crucial aspects to quickly ascertain is how the surface plays. By that we primarily mean speed; one court can be significantly faster or slower than another with the same classification (e.g. clay). Let’s say at Lyon the courts are fast and the returners during the first few games aren’t getting much of a look in… in this case tie-breaks, the overs and holds should appeal more than if the court was averagely fast for its surface (which is how the matches will have been set-up by the bookies and anticipated by the markets). Value.
Davis Cup & Fed Cup:
With the dramatic events of the Davis Cup final still fresh in the memory you might be feeling a tad low about the wait for this year’s 1st round ties. Fear not! The new season sees DC R1 moved forwards a month from early March to early Feb (3rd-5th). Yes, little over a week away. Feel better now?
DC QFs move from mid-July to early April (7th-9th) – to follow the Masters 1000 tournaments of Indian Wells and Miami. With that in mind, back to back high-stakes tournaments provides a great opportunity to spot any players on a hot run or, conversely, in a hole. And with a week between Miami and DC for R&R, there’s no (more than usual) reason to think those in a rich vein of form might suffer burn-out.
The WTA are clearly happy with how Fed Cup slots into the calendar and so the 1st round (6-12 Feb), semis & playoffs (21-23 April), and the final (10-12 Nov) will be staged over the same weeks as they were in 2016.
If it ain’t broke, just tweak it:
The early-rounds DC shuffle-up results in a few minor timing changes; almost all tournaments (barring some switching) from April to September are scheduled one week later in the year than they were in 2016.
There are a few minor post-Wimbledon alterations such as Atlanta coming a couple of weeks sooner in the North American swing, Washington and the Rogers Cup (which sees the standard annual switch from Toronto to Montreal) nudged back a week.
The WTA have also made a handful of minor tweaks to the calendar. The biggest mover from its 2016 spot is Monterrey. The International tier tournament switches from the end of Feb to early April.
Inaugural Next-Gen ATP Finals:
The remainder of the 2017 season exactly mirrors that of 2016 but for a brand-new event sandwiched between the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals. The Next Gen Finals, will involve eight players aged 21 or under; the season’s top seven ATP ranking point scorers plus one wildcard. Milan won the bidding war and so the Fiera Milano Stadium will set the stage for the next five years. As with Lyon, the particulars of the surface, apart from being indoor hard-court, will be anyone’s guess; speedy analysis in the Italian capital will likely be a money spinner.
Of equal importance here regarding betting advantage is player condition. It’s well documented how gruelling a full season on the professional tour is, and that young bodies are more vulnerable to burn-out. So, similar to concepts discussed at length in our blog-post ‘US Open Flakes’, watching for early signs of fatigue, cramping or any kind of ailment during the Next-Gen Finals is a smart move.