Top 20 ATP Tour by end of 2017 Karen Khachanov

Tennis - Season Special - 01 Nov 10:00

This is another season special that caught my eye. I don't like to stake too much for a whole year but often season specials seem priced quite lazily by bookies.

Karen Khachanov is a player we've mentioned a few times in various situations. Most notably we tipped him to our private subscribers at 66/1 to win ATP Chengdu and he did just that.

As often seems to happen initially with young, talented teenagers, he has been on and off the scene, showing both potential and inconsistency.

He is 6' 6" with a very big serve and an ability to hurt off both wings. His two handed backhand is especially impressive.

In terms of mentality he seems a little on and off but plays his best in big matches which is key to beating the top players and moving up to the top 20.

He moved from rank 152 at the start of 2016 to 53 at the end showing huge improvement and, as mentioned, winning ATP Chengdu when priced as an underdog in 3 of his 5 matches. He defeated 3 top 30 players at the tournament.

My favourite stat comes from analysis by Dan from Tennis Ratings who showed his combined break/hold percentage ranked 22 in 2016. That's very significant given combined percentages are a more accurate reflection of ability than rank.

This kind of bet is quite hard to quantify given that it takes into account so many variables. As such I often find it helpful to see if I can find equivalent situations. A few come to mind where a talented up and coming player has jumped up the rankings to make the top 20.

Lucas Pouille started 2016 ranked 78 and ended the year ranked 15.

Alexander Zverev started 2016 ranked 83 and made it to 24 by the end of the year. He made the top 20 in October but it just slipped away a little at the end.

Dominic Thiem started 2015 ranked 39 and ended the year at 20 having gone as high as 52 during the year.

Bernard Tomic started 2015 ranked 56 and finished the year ranked 18.

Nick Kyrgios went from rank 50 at the start of 2015 to 30 by the end of the year. Then in 2016 he reached 13 by the year end.

Jack Sock started 2015 ranked 42 and finished the year ranked 26.

Borna Coric went from 102 at the start of 2015 to reach a career high of 33 in July of the same year before injury forced him to slip back.

David Goffin went from rank 111 at the start of 2014 to 22 by the year end and 20 by February 2015. This was a little different as he was coming back but shows the jump you can make in ranking.

Grigor Dimitrov started 2013 ranked 48 and finished the year ranked 23 before making the top 20 in January 2014.

Milos Raonic started 2011 ranked 156 and finished the year ranked 31. He made the top 20 the year after.

Kei Nishikori started 2011 ranked 98 and finished the year ranked 25 before making the top 20 in January 2012.

Richard Gasquet started 2010 ranked 53 and finished the year ranked 30 before making the top 20 only 3 months later.

So at a comparable point in the development of these 12 players, all of whom I see as similar in terms of overall ability, this bet has landed 3 times. Plus it has never really flopped, with the highest ranking being 33 and lots of mid 20s.

Indeed, the trend that seems to happen a lot as these talented young players develop is a jump from around the 50-100 mark to the low 20s or 30s. I would say the bet had a good run for it's money at 10/1 if Khachanov finished around 30.

That is the key to this bet really. The examples I have used are all notably talented players who are more established than Khachanov. But to me Khachanov is of the same quality, simply less exposed.

At his current ranking he will have direct access to most tournaments and therefore the question is simply how well he will perform against top opponents. That means this is essentially a bet on Khachanov doing what he has done so far in his career: playing big matches well and capitalizing on opportunities.

If he can do this consistently all it takes is a little luck and he could easily make the top 20. Lucas Pouille managed it this year and his combined break hold percentage was significantly lower than Khachanov's.

If I'm honest, I wouldn't really know how to price this market, and it is a very big ask, but to me Khachanov is amongst a handful of young stars who could realistically achieve the feat. I see him as comparable to the players listed above, all of whom would have given this bet at least a run for its money. To me 10/1 simply feels way too big.

At only 20 he has room for improvement over the next few years as he matures physically and psychologically. His game is already impressive; if he continues to improve it will be frightening. The main question is how consistently Khachanov can perform at this high level.

Indeed, it's always a little bit of a gamble betting on young players as they can go off the boil, but given what I've seen I'm happy to have some faith in the young Russian. I expect big things from him sooner rather than later and given his current ranking is in line with when most young talents have a surge to the top 30, I can't ignore odds of 10/1.
TennisPilot +2284.95
Stake: 10 9.00Skybet
Bets Placed
CJ

CJ (+2,883.52) bet £10.00 on this tip.

11.00
Simon

Simon (+13,668.63) bet £5.00 on this tip.

11.00

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