The big guns make their first appearances in the China Open on Tuesday, assuming that we can see them through the smog of Beijing that is.
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic begin their potentially week-long battle for the number one ranking with pretty straightforward tasks against Santiago Giraldo and Lukas Rosol in the gloom of China’s capital, but there is certainly more value around than backing those two on Tuesday.
Monday’s sole wager was more than a shade unlucky when Tommy Haas needed just two further games to land the overs bet at *2-1 ahead of Lleyton Hewitt in set two of their match, before the German proceeded to lose five straight games. He then had another two chances to win that all-important fourth game at 15-40 and 3-5*, but blew those as well to leave us one point short.
Yen Hsun Lu vs Nikolay Davydenko
This match is surely going to go the way of the man from Chinese Taipei in familiar conditions against an injured and demotivated Davydenko, who could well call it quits at the end of this season.
The Russian has a wrist injury, which he says he’s had for about two months and the 32-year-old will surely struggle here after a poor loss to Pablo Cuevas in Tokyo – an event he tried to pull out of last week.
Lu has had some good results here, famously beating Andy Murray in the 2008 Olympics and David Ferrer here last year and he won’t mind the rancid conditions in Beijing. It will be their first ever career meeting and it looks a great opportunity for Lu, with the -3.5 games on him looking good at 1.78.
Florian Mayer vs Richard Gasquet
Talking of players who’ve had good results in China, Mayer took down Nadal in Shanghai two years ago and reached the semi-finals here in Beijing last year.
He looks a big price to cause problems for Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman choked away a lead against Milos Raonic in last week’s Bangkok semi-finals and looks worth opposing against a player who’s won seven of his last 10 matches in China, with the three losses coming against Murray, Djokovic and Feli Lopez.
Mayer is an awkward opponent, who has caused Gasquet problems before and the Frenchman hasn’t had much time to acclimatise to the awful conditions here. Richard lost out to Ze Zhang in the first round here 12 months ago his overall record in China is poor.
The Gasman may well win this, but he looks too short at 1.3 and Mayer to win a set at 2.06 or the outright at 3.65 look good here.
John Isner vs Di Wu
A real battle of little versus large here, as the 6’10” Isner faces the 5’8” 22-year-old Wu, who gets a wild card into this tournament.
On the face of it this is a gimme for Isner, but I wouldn’t be too keen to part with my money at odds of 1.06 in these circumstances. Wu can play a bit and although he will probably struggle to return the Isner serve at times it should be noted that Isner doesn’t have a great record in Asia – or indeed many places outside the USA – and he has dropped sets in each of his last four matches against players under 5’10” in height.
He was beaten by David Goffin and David Ferrer, and dropped sets to Ricardas Berankis and Jesse Levine in the last year.
Rarely does Isner cover a -4.5 game handicap in a best of three match. Indeed, he hasn’t done it all season long outside the USA and one has to go back to the Olympics last summer for the last time it was achieved.
That was against Malek Jaziri 20 such matches ago and I can’t imagine Isner breaking that run today against an opponent who will be far more motivated than he.
Back Lu -3.5 games to beat Davydenko at 1.78
Back Mayer +1.5 sets to beat Gasquet at 2.06
Back Wu +4.5 games to beat Isner at 1.92