Round three of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open begins on Monday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with eight matches from the top half of the draw scheduled for today.
And it’s set to be another scorching day in the California desert on Monday, with the hot spell continuing and the dial set at around 35C in the shade (over 40C on court) once more, and it’s forecast to stay that way for the rest of the tournament.
Taylor Fritz proved too hot for Marin Cilic to handle in the end on Sunday to land us a winner on the set handicap and once again the handicap wasn’t required, as the American took the win in the deciding set.
The 2.02 about over 9.5 games in set one of Nick Kyrgios and Horacio Zeballos came in to 1.71 in the end, but was unlucky in that NK served first and was perfect in his only two break chances of the match.
Mischa Zverev vs Dominic Thiem
Thiem has been winning without impressing for some time and this match-up against the net-rushing German could well prove to be another tricky one for the Austrian.
Against a group of players that like to attack the net in Sergiy Stakhovsky, Pierre Hugues-Herbert, Sam Groth, Gilles Muller, Nicolas Mahut and Zverev, the Austrian has a 4-6 record, with three of the wins coming against the struggling Groth.
In all 10 of those matches Thiem has struggled early, losing five of the opening sets, and winning the others by score lines of either 7-6, 7-5 or 6-4.
He failed to find a solution to Hugues-Herbert’s attacking game on a slow indoor hard court in Rotterdam less than a month ago and cut a frustrated figure during that straight sets loss to the Frenchman.
He’s without the wisdom of coach Gunter Bresnik this week, so hopefully for Thiem’s sake he’s watched that Hugues-Herbert match back on video for some tips on what to do today.
Zverev showed against Andy Murray in Melbourne that his leftie serve and volley style can be successful against the very best in the business and Thiem’s record against lefties is patchy.
Losses to Jiri Vesely, Muller, Guido Pella, Jurgen Melzer and Albert Ramos have all come in the last 15 months and he lost his only career clash with Zverev to date on the grass of Stuttgart in 2015.
It’s actually Zverev that leads the service hold/break stats on outdoor hard at main level over the past 12 months, with 83.7% holds and 24.4% breaks for a 108.1 total.
Thiem is on 79.4% holds of serve and 26.2% breaks for a 105.6 total and given his struggles against the type of opponent that Zverev is too I can only see value in the German’s price of 3.05 here.
Thiem has been doing an awful lot of complaining and gesticulating to his box this year and he was at it again (pictured above) against Jeremy Chardy in a laboured win over the out of form Frenchman in his opening match at Indian Wells..
Zverev was very good against Joao Sousa in round one and I definitely don’t fancy Thiem as a 1.38 chance today and more so given the 13:00 local time start in the heat of the day and with the balls flying.
Thiem practiced with Philipp Kohlschreiber yesterday, and not a leftie or a net-rusher, so that wouldn’t give me much confidence in him either.
Pablo Carreno Busta vs Roberto Bautista Agut
RBA looks a bit too short for my liking in this 14:00 local time (21:00 UK) start on Stadium 4, with the outcome likely to be decided by small margins and by who handles the conditions the better.
And given that Bautista-Agut is yet to better the last-16 at Indian Wells and was beaten on outdoor hard by PCB in their last clash in August last year I wouldn’t be happy with backing him at around the same price as Thiem either.
That match was in the final of Winston-Salem just before the US Open and PCB came through 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 that day plus he went the full five sets with RBA at the US Open the year before when he was ranked outside the top-50.
PCB is much improved on hard courts these days and his service hold/break stats on outdoor hard over the past year show that, with 80.2% holds and 26.1% breaks for a very decent total of 106.3.
RBA’s numbers are even better (81.6% holds/29% breaks) but he hits very flat and it’s very hard to play that way consistently at Indian Wells and more so during the day session, so for me there’s enough in this one to take PCB on the handicap.
Carreno Busta is a 1.84 chance with a 3.5 game start and that’s the second bet for Monday.
Elsewhere, news has filtered through about Gael Monfils being sick and his price has drifted out as a consequence against John Isner, but I’ll never understand why the tournament keeps putting Isner on in the late match (other than TV and fan reasons).
He’s far less effective here at night, but with Monfils saying in his usual understated manner: “I've been sick for 5 to 6 days with flu or a cold, I don't really know. On the plane coming over here I thought I'd die. I have quite a fever and it is not going away,” the Frenchman looks a risky wager too.
We’re already on Isner, so that one looks one to avoid, but I am tempted by Philipp Kohlschreiber to test the erratic Stanislas Wawrinka.
Stan has lost 38 times as favourite at Masters 1000 level and 16 times as a sub-1.40 favourite, including five of his last 11 matches.
He began this tournament well, but that doesn’t mean he’ll play well today, and the German has been playing well enough to make it tough for the Swiss in this midnight UK time clash.
Vasek Pospisil may suffer the classic ‘big win let down’ against Dusan Lajovic and the Canadian looks short, but the Serb has lost all three matches on outdoor hard versus the net-rushers I mentioned earlier and five of his last seven in all.
David Goffin has a fine record against lefties, but the heat worries me with him, and I’m not so sure that Yoshihito Nishioka can cope with the power of Tomas Berdych, although the Czech looks short on confidence at the moment.
1 point win Zverev to beat Thiem at 3.05
1 point win Carreno Busta +3.5 games to beat Bautista-Agut at 1.83