The opening day of the Olympic tennis tournament was not the start I was looking for after an excellent few days in Los Angeles.
Pretty much everything went wrong on Saturday, including Philipp Kohlschreiber deciding to withdraw from the tournament with an apparent hamstring injury gained while messing about in Kitzbuhel at an ATP 250 event.
It was a day with the expected unusual results, with Tomas Berdych and Sam Stosur being the highest profile casualties and Sunday’s play sees Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic seek to ensure that their names aren’t on that list come this evening.
But the first match that I’ll be involved in today is Bernard Tomic to defeat Kei Nishikori at very nice odds of around 2.20
It’s a risky wager with the poor form that Tomic has been in lately, but I really don’t like Nishikori on grass and the surface seems to suit today’s underdog more than the Japanese star.
And Kei hasn’t been in the best of form himself recently. Since returning from injury he’s been beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro at Wimbledon and more worryingly for his fans by Rajeev Ram and Go Soeda on his favourite hard courts.
The Soeda match in Atlanta, which I watched live, was a dreadful effort on Nishikori’s part against his Olympic doubles partner and anything like a repeat of that should see him well beaten today.
Tomic is a perplexing character and his choice of playing Stuttgart and Gstaad on clay after Wimbledon was rather an unusual one and it didn’t pay off at all with first round exits at both tournaments.
Indeed, the Aussie has lost his last six matches in a row, which is why he’s such a good price today.
I expect a return to grass to perk Tomic up and he is worth chancing against a player who’s never beaten a top-50 ranked player on grass (0-6) in his career.
Another top player whose results on grass are mixed to put it kindly is Juan Monaco, who has just broken the top-10 in the world for the first time.
I very much doubt that this tournament is high on Monaco’s agenda and he takes on rising star David Goffin today.
A couple of wins at Wimbledon this year are the only ones that the Argentine has ever recorded on grass, which is a surface that he tends to avoid at all costs.
After reaching the final in Gstaad and winning Hamburg in the last few weeks on his beloved clay I can’t see Monaco putting in much of a shift here this week and Goffin with a 1.5 set start looks a great bet at around 1.50
The youngster has had a dip in form lately, which explains his outright price of 2.35, and that’s to be expected at this stage of his career, but he’s certainly got the ability to give Monaco a real test today.
We saw at Wimbledon a few weeks ago when he defeated Tomic and Jesse Levine and was favourite against Mardy Fish, that he is effective on grass and it could be worth siding with him outright today.
A lacklustre straight sets loss to Benjamin Becker on grass in Newport was a bit of a setback for Goffin, but he has the advantage of not having to attune his game back to grass from clay, which is something that Monaco may find tricky against a player of Goffin’s talent.
It should be a great match to watch and I’m happy to take the Belgian with that 1.5 set start.
My last bet today is to take the overs in Andy Murray v Stan Wawrinka at around 1.75
This has all the hallmarks of a potential banana skin match for the British hope and none of their best of three set meetings has ever been completed in under today’s mark of 20.5 games.
Murray generally feels his way into tournaments quite slowly and the 1.14 about him winning today looks a wager frought with danger to me.
Best Bets: Back Tomic to beat Nishikori at 2.20; Back Goffin + 1.5 sets to beat Monaco at 1.5; Back over 20.5 games in Murray v Wawrinka at 1.75