Tennis Betting Advice - January 2021

My picks for the Istanbul quarter finals...

Thursday 21st January 2021

In your Ones to Watch email today:

  • ATP Istanbul Challenger…
  • Play starts 7am…
  • A history of big prices at the Australian Open…

In pretty much all pro tennis apart from at the men’s Grand Slams, matches are played as best of three sets.

That means, barring an injury retirement or disqualification, there are only two possible ways to win: 2-0, or 2-1.

On Monday, it could be argued that I was ‘going for too much’ with my 2-1 Set Betting pick in the ATP Istanbul Challenger event.

After all, I got the player ‘right’ – with Mohamed Safwat winning the match in question, and as the underdog, too.

However, in my case, Safwat won too well.

In the indoor hard-court conditions at the Istanbul venue, Safwat was a comfortable winner against the clay-court favouring youngster, Thiago Seyboth Wild.

The 30-year-old Egyptian won the match 6-4, 6-1.

Now, I’m never going to apologise for going after a big price. Safwat was a top-price 6/4 (2.5) for the match. My 2-1 Set Betting option was 9/2 (5.5).

There is, though, the Keep It Simple, Stupid rule (KISS). And I’m getting back on the match-betting horse with two straight-down-the-line Match Winner selections for tomorrow…

My picks for the Istanbul quarter finals…

If you’re following me in, then get your bets on before you get into bed tonight. Play starts in the Istanbul quarter finals from 7am Friday, UK time.

Mohamed Safwat to beat Go Soeda

The Japanese player is the slightly-higher ranked, with Soeda at No.134 in the world. Safwat is No.153. The head-to-head is 1-1, both on hard courts, with Safwat the most recent winner, in 2018.

Soeda is 36 years of age now, which is veteran status for a tennis player. He had a gruelling match in the last round, saving three match points, to eventually squeak it, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6.

In comparison, Safwat has had a straight-sets ride so far, reeling off a pair of 2-0 victories. Following the aforementioned 1st round win over Seyboth Wild, with a closer 7-6, 7-5 win on Wednesday.

As we noted at the start of the week, the Egyptian lifted a first ATP Challenger trophy last season. Soeda’s last title win was back in 2016.

I’m keen to follow the momentum here, and back Safwat. The bookies make it pretty much a pick ‘em, with Safwat available at 5/6 (1.83), and Soeda at 10/11 (1.91).

Ergi Kirkin to beat Jozef Kovalik

The 21-year-old home player appeals on form and price here. Kirkin has won both his matches in straight sets, and only lost one service game all week. The Turkish player ended last year with 10 straight match wins on the ITF circuit.

Kovalik has lost his serve five times across his two matches this week. The 28-year-old Slovakian has got experience in his favour. But the upside is with the younger man, with Kirkin appealing as the 5/4 (2.25) match underdog.

Meanwhile, Down Under…

The Australian Open doesn’t start for a couple of weeks yet. But it’s been getting plenty of headlines and column inches.

The players have already arrived Down Under. And depending what plane they flew in on, under Australia’s coronavirus restrictions, they’re in different levels of hotel-based quarantine.

There’s a lot of talk. A lot of social media videos. A bit of controversy. I’m just looking forward to the actual tennis to start…

Because the first Grand Slam on the calendar is often a great hunting ground for our ‘Ones to Watch’ approach. With several newcomers and outsiders winning big in Melbourne in recent years…

A history of big prices at the Australian Open…

This tournament has been a rich source of big odds in recent times.

The Melbourne Park venue has borne witness to plenty of surprises, with ‘long shots’ & underdogs going deep to the semi finals and finals – at some massive prices.

This list should whet your appetite…

Australian Open Finals:

(Pre-tournament Outright Winner odds in brackets)

  • 2014 – Dominika Cibulkova – Women’s Runner-Up (200/1)
  • 2014 – Stan Wawrinka – Men’s Winner (66/1)
  • 2016 – Angelique Kerber – Women’s Winner (50/1)
  • 2017 – Venus Williams – Women’s Runner-Up (100/1)
  • 2018 – Marin Cilic – Men’s Runner-Up (33/1)
  • 2020 – Sofia Kenin – Women’s Winner (50/1)
  • 2020 – Garbine Muguruza – Women’s Runner-Up (40/1)
  • 2020 – Dominic Thiem – Men’s Runner-Up (22/1)

Also, reaching the Semi Finals in the last three years alone:

  • 2018 – Hyeon Chung – Men’s Semi Finals (300/1)
  • 2018 – Kyle Edmund – Men’s Semi Finals (100/1)
  • 2019 – Stefanos Tsitsipas – Men’s Semi Finals (50/1)
  • 2019 – Lucas Pouille – Men’s Semi Finals (200/1)
  • 2019 – Danielle Collins – Women’s Semi Finals (500/1)

As those winners, runners-up and semi-finalists show – players reaching the business end of the tournament at big odds are a frequent occurrence at the Australian Open…

Going after outsiders & underdogs and young & improving players at attractive Each Way prices is what my Ones to Watch service is all about.

For example, from those names above, we had 50/1 Kenin last season, and Thiem at 22/1 Each Way.

Back in 2018, we had Cilic at 33/1. And Tsitsipas had appeared as one of 10 players in our Ones to Watch in 2019 report, less than a month before that breakthrough semi-final run in Melbourne.

Catch up on my new player list for the 2021 season here.

Ones to Watch:

ATP Challenger – Istanbul

Match Winner:

  • Mohamed Safwat to beat Go Soeda is 5/6 (1.83) with William Hill, BetVictor, Boylesports, 4/5 (1.8) Bet365, Betway 
  • Ergi Kirkin to beat Jozef Kovalik is 5/4 (2.25) with BetVictor, Betway, Boylesports, 6/5 (2.2) Bet365, William Hill

Play starts from 7am. You watch live, for free, on the ATP Challenger TV page here. As well as on bookie websites.

I’ll be back soon with more, as we build up to the Australian Open.

Need to get in touch? Email me at:

Enjoy the tennis…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Tom Wilson

Ones to Watch