Tuesday was a winning day at the Mutua Madrid Open thanks to Viktor Troicki’s three set win over Marcel Granollers.
Elsewhere, I said yesterday that Novak Djokovic might have a match on his hands against Grigor Dimitrov and so it proved, but I wasn’t expecting quite the drama that we witnessed last night.
A raucous Madrid crowd urged a cramping Dimitrov to a stunning deciding set victory over the world number one, who himself had taken an injury time out when he turned his already injured ankle.
The Bulgarian looked out on his feet during the second set tie-break but stormed back to take down the Serb in the third set against all odds.
Wednesday’s early matches include Tomas Berdych taking on Jerzy Janowicz in what could be a real banana skin for last year’s finalist.
In these quick conditions Janowicz could easily take a set against Berdych, as he did in their indoor hard meeting in Marseille earlier on this season. The bet on Janowicz +1.5 sets is worth a look in that one at around 1.73.
Benoit Paire’s birthday present is another match with Rafa Nadal, hot on the heels of his defeat to Rafa in Monte-Carlo. The +7.5 games on the birthday boy is interesting in that one.
Juan Monaco looks plenty short enough against Kevin Anderson in these conditions. The big South African has improved a lot on the clay lately, while Nico Almagro takes a 0-4 head-to-head record into his match with Mikhail Youzhny.
But, having backed Troicki yesterday, I’m going against the Serb today in his match with Kei Nishikori that kicks off at around 12pm UK time today.
Troicki is a shocking 1-23 in his last 24 matches against top-25 ranked opposition such as Nishikori and the one win he did manage in those 24 games was on grass against Monaco.
As I said yesterday, he’s shown a few signs of life yesterday, but beating a below par Granollers is one thing and taking down Nishikori quite another.
The Japanese player isn’t the best on clay compared to hard courts, but these quick conditions should display his superior control. We’ve seen in the past that Kei can beat the best in the world on a fast surface.
He started his campaign in Madrid with a convincing win over Jurgen Melzer and even though the Austrian served at 88% of first serves in play he only won 57% of those points, which shows that Nishikori is returning well. That’s a great sign for his backers today in these conditions.
The 1.88 on Nishikori winning this minus 1.5 sets on the handicap looks like a spot of value, so I’ll trust in Kei to complete a straightforward win today.
Best Bet: Back Nishikori -1.5 sets to beat Troicki at 1.88
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