If you feel like you haven’t heard much about world No. 36 Aslan Karatsev in 2022, it’s probably because the Russian is in the midst of a really disappointing season. The 28-year-old worked his way all the way up to 14th, a career high, in the ATP rankings back on February 7, but he has since dropped rather far. Now, Karatsev finds himself as a favorite over world No. 115 Mikael Ymer at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. And to put it nicely, we think the oddsmakers have this one backwards.

Since winning his first six matches of 2022, Karatsev is just 8-19 in his last 27 matches. His hold percentage is down from 80.5% last year to 77.6% this year, which is significant when you also factor in that his break percentage has fallen from 26.2% to 21.4%. All in all, the Russian has seen his game just completely fall apart, and you have to wonder how he is holding up mentally as he deals with these struggles.


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The one thing working in Karatsev’s favor in this match is the fact that Ymer hasn’t exactly been on fire either. The young Swede has lost six of his last 10 matches, but he did earn an impressive victory over a cramping Andy Murray in his first match in this tournament. It isn’t that surprising that a return to the hard courts resulted in a victory for Ymer, who is 32-36 on the surface in his career. That 47.1% win percentage might not seem like much, but it's the highest he has on any surface, and he also made semifinal run on hard courts early this season in Montpellier. Back in February, the 23-year-old earned wins over Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet before losing to world No. 2 Alexander Zverev in that event.

While Karatsev’s serving has gotten worse, Ymer’s hold percentage has gone up from 67.8% last year to 71.4% this year. He also has a break percentage of 24.9%, which is higher than his opponent's.

With all this in mind, it just really is hard to see why Karatsev is viewed as the favorite in this match. The Russian is clearly going through a lot right now, and there’s no way he’ll be feeling confident in this one—especially considering he hasn’t played a hard-court match in just about four months. It’ll take some time for him to get comfortable on this surface, while Ymer already had the luxury of boosting his confidence in the hard-court win over Murray—one of the best players in the history of sport, and one that also had the crowd there to help him.

It goes without saying that Karatsev absolutely has the talent required to win this match, but the value on Ymer is just too good to pass up. As a plus-money dog in a match we expect him to win, it’d be irresponsible not to throw at least a little something on this. Whether it’s a full unit or a half-unit, you’ll want to at least play Ymer to win, as the Swede is a live ‘dog in this spot.

The Pick: Ymer To Win (+135)