Round two (and in some cases round one) action is the order of the day on Wednesday in Rotterdam, Memphis and Buenos Aires on the ATP World Tour.
The rain in Buenos Aires may have put a substantial dent in our progress this week, with both Victor Estrella and Paulo Lorenzi afforded an extra 24 hours of rest after a schedule change at the Argentina Open on Tuesday.
For reasons best known to Martin Jaite and his crew they opted not to start earlier than 15:30 when they were already behind due to the persistent rain and our Quito finalists were given the nod as the matches to be cancelled.
So, our wagers for Tuesday will now play on Wednesday and you’d have to conclude that the value has gone now that they’ve been delayed.
Evgeny Donskoy vs Pierre Hugues-Herbert
This price of 1.55 on Herbert looks very skinny indeed in the opening match on Court 1 in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
I watched Herbert’s opening match of the tournament against Feli Lopez and the Frenchman was certainly flattered by a straight sets win, with the match ending on a peculiar leave from Lopez when a winning volley looked the certain outcome.
It wasn’t an encounter of great quality and perhaps Lopez’s dismal record at this tournament meant he wasn’t too upset to get on the nearest boat out of Rotterdam and on to his next port of call – Acapulco.
Herbert didn’t create one break point all match against Lopez and in his last 10 matches at main level on indoor hard courts PHH has a really poor break of serve percentage of just 8.8%.He relies heavily on his serve, with 86% holds in that time frame, but a total of 94.8 isn’t as good as the 100% of Donskoy (81.8% holds/18.2% breaks) and I’m not at all convinced that Herbert should be 1.55 for this one.
Sometimes it just takes a bit of fortune to get your season going and Donskoy may well have had rather a lot of it this week, with a retirement from Mikhail Youzhny, four match points saved versus Ernests Gulbis and possibly a sickness issue with Marcel Granollers.
The Russian needed something to go his way after no wins at main level since last August, but fittingly for a career that’s been very up and down that victory came at the Olympics against David Ferrer.
A streaky sort for sure Donskoy’s wins tend to come along in small clusters and with better stats and rising confidence coming from being broken only once this week he appears decent value here.
He played well against Granollers (who may or may not have been under the weather) and having hardly been broken all week the stats suggest that Herbert is unlikely to be the one to buck that trend.
Elsewhere in Rotterdam on Wednesday I’m hoping that fatigue kicks in for Grigor Dimitrov and/or David Goffin, with Mischa Zverev and Andrey Kuznetsov both having some sort of chance against the Sofia finalists on their best form.
I’d expect Richard Gasquet to come through against Viktor Troicki, while likely fatigue puts me off backing Alexander Zverev, who would normally get the vote on a hard court against Dominic Thiem.
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Dustin Brown
A couple of wagers appeal in this round one clash in Memphis, with Brown the man in form and Kukushkin totally off his game in recent months.
Indeed, the Kazakh Davis Cup star hasn’t won back-to-back matches against top-100 ranked players at main level now for over two years, since making the final of Sydney 2015 as a qualifier.
Kukushkin has had his fair share of injury problems of late and he has looked miles off the pace for some time, with service hold and break stats that are very mediocre indeed.
On indoor hard over his last 10 matches at main level Kukushkin has managed only 70.5% holds of serve and 21.6% breaks, giving him a total of 91.5 and that number drops to 89.4 on all surfaces at main level over the past year (24 matches: 8 wins/16 losses).
He was last seen at the San Francisco Challenger losing 3-6, 3-6 to Michael Mmoh last week and he’s won only two of his last 11 matches at all levels going back to last September.
Brown is hardly one to trust, but he looked in fine form last week indoors in Montpellier until a back problem very early on forced him to retire against Benoit Paire.
His service hold and break of serve numbers are far better than Kukushkin’s, with 85.4% breaks and 25.4% holds (110.8 total) over his last 10 matches at main level on indoor hard (six wins/four losses), so with that back issue in mind the handicap looks the one here, but the Wednesday start must be in Brown's favour.
The -1.5 games on Brown will see a void if either player retires before the wager is won or lost and that seems decent value at 1.91.
I also like the no tie breaks here, with both men holding very low tie breaks per set marks indoors of late, but a price of 1.73 doesn’t seem fabulous value.
1 point win Donskoy to beat Herbert at 2.45
1 point win Brown -1.5 games to beat Kukushkin at 1.91