ATP Challenger Playford
Hijikata vs Lopez-Perez (Approx 11:00am AEDST)
Another value selection for a young Australian, with wildcard Rinky Hijikata a great price in Playford against Lopez Perez, who really struggled in the latter part of 2018.
Fans of Australian tennis should keep an eye on the name Rinky Hijikata. The 17 year old managed to reach the quarter finals of the junior Australian Open this year, and won his way through the U18 tournament at Melbourne Park, giving him the opportunity to take part in the Wildcard Playoff a couple of weeks ago. After starting with a 5 set victory over the strongly favoured Andrew Harris, Hijikata then played a tight 4 set match against the eventual winner James Duckworth. He is a very large striker of the ball, and isn’t afraid to play big shots, even if he is a touch undersized at 5’9”. The obvious asterix next to that comment is that playing big shots can also lead to big unforced error rates, however I think when you factor that into the price, the $6.50 available is still far too large. The weather in Playford tomorrow is very similar to the Wildcard Playoff, and I think it will suit Hijikata. I was also tempted by a play on the first set, but looking at his fighting qualities and ability to also manage 5 set tennis in the heat recently, I don’t have doubts over his ability to handle the conditions today.
Enrique Lopez Perez had quite an up and down 2018. After reaching a career high ranking during the year, he really fell away in the last couple of months, struggling against some very beatable opposition. I think this first match to commence the year, a week before AO qualifying and considering his poor late 2018 season form doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence at such a short price.
Look for Hijikata to put up very stiff resistance at the $6.50 available. I think he should be closer to $3.50, as his form and recent hardcourt match practice in similar conditions will help him get over the line. A value price that I cannot pass up.
2 units Hijikata to defeat Lopez Perez at $6.50 (+550) at Topsport and Bet365
Note: Challenger unit staking is 1-3 units due to lower liquidity and market movement. Hijikata value above $3.50.