Getting an edge
Challenger Events mix raw young talent making their way up the tennis rankings alongside journeymen on their way down from the main ATP Tour. As such, Challenger Events present a unique challenge as well as opportunity to tennis bettors, and are a source of invaluable information for anyone betting on the main ATP circuit.
Available information – such as injury news – can be sketchy, while modest prize-money, more humble venues & small crowds add in complicated motivational and situational factors. This however represents a real opportunity to gain an edge for those bettors prepared to do the research.
Not so shocking shocks
Casual bettors may, for example, have been very surprised at Dan Evans' run at the 2013 US Open. Having been ranked as high as 367 in March, Evans came through three rounds of qualifying at Flushing Meadows before knocking out 11th seed Kei Nishikori (in straight sets) and world number 52 Bernard Tomic.
"The Challenger event name is well chosen ..a million miles from the glamour of the ATP Tour"
However, those who studied Evans’ form on the Challenger Tour leading into the US Open – making consecutive finals at the Vancouver Open and Comerica Bank Open – would have been less surprised. Evans’ performances are even less surprising with the knowledge that he had made important changes to his coaching team and in his previously wayward personal life.
Recent Challenger events have featured a former world no.8 – Radek Stepanek – who won in September in Orleans, and previous no.38 Donald Young who won back-to-back tournaments in California. At one time Young was considered one of the game’s hottest prospects before falling down the rankings, including a 17 game losing streak (the 3rd highest in Open era).
Another example of a challenger doing well recently is Vasek Pospisil. It’s no coincidence the Canadian won back-to-back Challengers – Johannesburg & Vancouver – before reaching the semi-final of the ATP 1000 Canada Masters.
Challenger in name & nature
The Challenger event name is well chosen – the environment is a million miles from the comfortable hotels and glamour of the ATP Tour. Jamaican born Dustin Brown won the AON Open Challenger on clay in September, and reached the 3rd round at Wimbledon in 2013 (beating Lleyton Hewitt), but those high profile results belie a career that has been a struggle. Dread-locked Brown has spoken of travelling around Europe in a campervan clawing a living by playing Challenger and Futures level events.
Understanding the difficulties that players like Brown face in just competing on the Challenger Tour is crucial. But those bettors that are prepared to do the research can utilise this kind of information to turn the challenge of Challenger Events into potentially significant rewards. Reason enough to start betting.