After experiencing his first full-taste of the ATP clay- and grass-court seasons, Brandon Nakashima has picked up right where he left off on his beloved hard courts. The 19-year-old has been good to us this week, covering his game spread in his opening round against J.J. Wolf before taking Sam Querrey to the woodshed in the second round, 6-3, 6-4.

First and foremost, this series aims to provide readers with matchup analysis from a betting perspective. The second goal—naturally—is to make money, and Nakashima has proven to be the one of the better bets of the tournament this week.

Jordan Thompson is rarely an easy out and, like Nakashima, enjoys the gritty, high-bouncing hard courts in Los Cabos. Pound for pound and inch for inch, Thompson owns one of the game’s premier kick serves, and maneuvers the ball around the court with his heavy topspin forehand. According to the oddsmakers, the San Diego native is listed as a -170 favorite and projected to win by two total games.

After hitting multiple bets on a player, recency and confirmation biases often come into play. It’s imperative to know when to jump off the proverbial horse. However, I don’t believe that time is now.

Seeing the younger and more inexperienced Nakashima as a solid favorite leads me to believe that the oddsmakers think he could win this comfortably, and are offering a juicy underdog price on the Aussie.

After a slightly underwhelming clay-court season, Nakashima performed admirably on the grass, but make no mistake: a slow hard court is where the former Virginia Cavalier All-American will make the bulk of his career prize money.

From a matchup perspective, Nakashima will dominate the backhand rallies and should counter Thompson’s effective kick serve with his fantastic backhand return. If Thompson proves unbreakable on serve, it will be a tough day for Nakashima, but once the rally begins, his ground game is unquestionably more dynamic.

The courts in Los Cabos appear to be made of a combination of sandpaper and molasses, and Thompson’s reliance on his backhand slice should provide Nakashima with plenty of attackable sitters from the back of the court.

When given time to wind up his groundstrokes, Nakashima has shown an uncanny ability to put the ball exactly wherever he wants.


Please keep any plays on the small side, as UTR’s new Insights tool has this match as a coin-flip, but Nakashima is poised for another major breakthrough on hard courts this year, and Thompson—though a skilled and savvy veteran—is certainly a beatable opponent.

The Pick: Brandon Nakashima -2