The third round of matches in the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open are the order of the day at the Caja Magica on Thursday, with all eight matches in-play today.
I say ‘today’, but with the ridiculous scheduling of this tournament quite honestly it could be Friday by the time some of these matches in this badly organised event get to the court.
Yesterday was utterly ridiculous, with Andy Murray not getting on court until 01:00 local time and finishing at around 03:00.
Amongst the carnage, Nick Kyrgios came within a hold of landing my 3.75 long shot yesterday and was a 1.14 chance in-play to do so, but the Aussie blinked at the wrong time before a total meltdown in the ensuing tie break.
He did, rather gallingly, recover and go on to win a hugely entertaining match in a final set tie break, therefore winning all sets bar the one I needed him to.
Talking of meltdowns Albert Ramos only needed three games in set two of his clash with David Ferrer to land the handicap after a tight opening set, but he fell apart like a poorly erected tent in set two.
We had to wait until about 00:30 UK time to get another ‘sure thing’ winner when Kei Nishikori eventually won yet another three setter – this time against David Goffin.
In the third round in Madrid a year ago we had two underdog winners from the eight matches, with Santi Giraldo’s win over Murray the pick of the prices at 3.30.
Tomas Berdych vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Straight in with Thursday’s ‘sure thing’ then and it’s to take Berdych to continue his fine record as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite on clay.
The Czech has a 15-5 career mark at that price range on the red dirt and he’s lost only one of the last eight going all the way back to 2009.
That was a five set loss to Gael Monfils at the French Open in 2013, but by and large he wins the matches he should on clay and this clash with Tsonga looks to me like another to add to the list.
Conditions suit Berdych here and he’s been playing at a higher level of late than Tsonga, who is still feeling his way back from injury after five months away from the tour with an arm injury.
It’s been a predictably up and down time for Tsonga since coming back at the end of March, with losses to Monfils, Marcel Granollers and Marin Cilic and this clash with an in-form Berdych looks a step too far.
Berdych ended the hopes of Estoril champion Richard Gasquet in straight sets yesterday, while Tsonga had to come through a final set breaker against Jack Sock and this one should go to Berdych.
I prefer Berdych to Ferrer, who on current form might find Fernando Verdasco a handful in Nando’s home town, but it’s hard to back a guy who’s lost the last eight in a row to an opponent, as Verdasco has to Ferrer.
Milos Raonic vs Leonardo Mayer
It seems that Raonic has overcome the foot injury that put an end to his participation in Monte-Carlo and in these conditions he should have too much game for Mayer.
The altitude helps the already mighty delivery of Raonic and he could end up being a factor in the shake-up at the end of the tournament if he is indeed fully fit.
Mayer struggles in quick conditions, largely due to his lengthy backswings, and he also has a poor record against big servers – especially on clay, strangely.
The Argentine has a poor 4-8 record against the big servers on my list on the clay, with his only win in the last nine before this week coming against Kenny De Schepper.
The only player of 6’4” in height or over that Mayer has beaten on clay are De Schepper and Dustin Brown and here in Madrid it looks like a tall order (no pun intended) that he’ll improve that record.
As a 1.2 to 1.4 favourite on clay Raonic has won 10 of his last 11 sets and only one has gone to a tie break, so I’m looking at the -3.5 games on the Canadian here at 1.84.
The underdogs today look by and large fanciful, with Marcel Granollers the obvious pick based on Murray’s crazily late finish last night, but the Spaniard played a three-hour plus marathon himself yesterday, which puts me off him.
Instead I like the idea of backing Kyrgios to beat John Isner and Rafa Nadal to take more than eight games in set one to get past Simone Bolelli in a double at 2.89 today.
Isner withdrew from the doubles citing a back injury and may well fade in what seems sure to be a long, serve dominated match against the exuberant Aussie, who has beaten the likes of Ivo Karlovic, Jack Sock and Sam Groth in the last year or so.
Nadal’s price comes from his great record against Bolelli, but he’s not that player at the moment and of his 15 matches on clay in 2015 only three times has set one finished in under 8.5 games.
One came against Lucas Pouille, another against a really poor Federico Delbonis and the other against Fabio Fognini in a match he ended up losing.
Bolelli surely won’t win this match as he’s too hit and miss against the best, but his serve in these conditions should see him win three games in the opener at least.
Sure thing: Back Berdych to beat Tsonga at 1.33
Value bet: Back Raonic -3.5 games to beat Mayer at 1.84
Long shot: Back Kyrgios to beat Isner and over 8.5 games in set one of Nadal/Bolelli at 2.89