The first round matches in week 40’s two ATP World Tour events are in-play on Tuesday at the China Open and Rakuten Japan Open.
Monday was one of those days where I chose the wrong bet from my shortlist to focus on and while those who were on Kevin Anderson and Vasek Pospisil would have had comfortable wins, there was a poor display from Alex Dolgopolov in my main bet.
The Ukrainian hit almost two unforced errors per game in total in his loss to Jack Sock, who, to be fair to the oft-uninspired American, showed an unusually mature approach and won easily.
Those who trusted Marcel Granollers’ wrist to have healed fully would have had a very nice winner too, when he took down the struggling David Ferrer after dropping set one.
There are eight matches on the card in Tokyo on Tuesday and 11 in Beijing as the opening round in both tournaments continues, with Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Stan Wawrinka all in action.
Richard Gasquet vs Rafael Nadal
Nadal is an obvious candidate to take on in his first competitive match back on the tour following a 14-week absence with a wrist injury.
Anyone else would be a decent price after such a long lay off and I suppose it could be argued that 1.26 is reasonable considering he’s playing an opponent who he’s beaten all 12 times at main level.
Gasquet will surely not have a better chance to finally record a win over Rafa than this, but how will his brain respond to that knowledge?
It’s a poor match-up for Gasquet, with his killer backhand going in to Rafa’s amazing forehand when he hits it cross court and the Frenchman will need to lazer some down the line to cause the upset here.
He has been able to do that in spells against the Spaniard, but it’s tough to keep doing it and the bet I like here is for Gasquet to win set one at 3.25.
Nadal has actually lost seven of his last eight opening sets stretching back to the French Open quarter final, so he’s been terribly slow to get going, and after 14 weeks off he could be forgiven for doing so again here.
This one begins at around 09:00 UK time on Tuesday in Beijing and it looks worth taking a chance on Gasquet in these circumstances.
Julien Benneteau vs Pablo Andujar
Elsewhere in Beijing it could be worth siding with Andujar at odds against in his match Julien Benneteau at 08:00 UK time.
Benny has a tough turnaround following his run to the final in Kuala Lumpur that ended on Sunday and he’ll have the disappointment of losing a 10th final as well as fatigue to deal with.
The last time he lost in the Malaysian Open final, which was a year ago, he went on to lose in the first round in both Beijing and Shanghai and it was a similar story the previous time too.
Benneteau was beaten in the Rotterdam final in week seven of 2013 and after winning one match in Marseille the next week – against Lucas Pouille – he lost his next six and didn’t win again until week 20.
Going back to the next most recent loss in a final we go back to Kuala Lumpur 2012 when he was beaten by Juan Monaco and lost in the first round in Beijing 6-1, 2-0 retired, to Andreas Seppi and won only two more matches that season.
The pattern is pretty clear and the Spaniard has beaten Benny twice in their four match series, so all told he looks a bit of value at 2.70.
Also in Beijing I quite like the chances of Feli Lopez against Tomas Berdych, with the Czech’s last two appearances being truly awful by his standards.
Lopez is a little short at 2.38 though after two wins over Berdych this season and a better choice might well prove to be to back Santiago Giraldo in some capacity against John Isner.
Giraldo won the first set both times this pair have met previously and Isner is a much less feared opponent away from the USA, so the 2.80 about Giraldo taking the opener or the 1.85 about +1.5 sets look decent options in this one.
In Tokyo on Tuesday favourite backers will look to Jarkko Niemien at 1.42 to record yet another win over Benjamin Becker.
The Finn has won the last six straight against the German and if you’re up at 03:00 UK time and fancy backing a favourite he could be your man, though he’s a bit short for me.
It looks to me like Jurgen Melzer has gone and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him call it a day next season or the end of this.
The Austrian plays Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Tokyo and if ERV drifts towards even money that could be a play on the Frenchman, with Melzer having lost his last eight matches (apart from Davis Cup against low ranked opposition).
Back Gasquet to win set one vs Nadal at 3.25
Back Andujar to beat Benneteau at 2.70