The ATP World Tour moves on from Tokyo and Beijing to Shanghai in week 41 and it’s the Shanghai Rolex Masters this week at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.
Conditions here are probably the quickest on tour and to give an indication of how pacey it is here in Shanghai, Dominic Thiem noted after playing his first round here that the courts are even quicker than the ones in Tokyo.
That should give a good indication of the conditions to expect this week and that being the case it was perhaps a surprise that Thiem was able to beat Lukas Rosol in straight sets on Sunday.
Rosol doesn’t have a good record in Asia and I think I’m right in saying that his wife is due to give birth soon, so he may well not have fancied hanging around.
That could also be the case for Kei Nishikori this week, but for different reasons, as after the Japanese star hand landed my bet of the day on Sunday by taking the opener against Milos Raonic he went on to win his second title in two weeks.
Surely that will be enough for his body and although he doesn’t play on Monday he may well struggle this week.
We have nine matches on the card for Monday and not many of them jump off the page in terms of betting excitement.
Ivo Karlovic vs Marin Cilic
Our 2014 US Open champion was brought back down to earth in Beijing last week by Andy Murray, who was as comfortable as the 6-1, 6-4 scoreline suggests in beating the Croatian.
That will have given Cilic something to think about and a first round match at a new tournament in fast conditions against Karlovic is a tough task for anyone – major winner or not.
Ivo has only played one match at the Shanghai Masters in the past, which was a loss to James Blake back in 2009, so it’s fair to assume it’s not his favourite event.
Maybe he dislikes the humidity, which is quite possible, and his loss to Peter Gojowczyk in Beijing last week after leading 5-2 in the final set may well give a large clue as to how his fitness suffers in these conditions.
All of which means that it might well pay to side with the over 10.5 games in set one at 2.45.
Cilic is down in 26th place this season in the ‘return games won’ category and as such he’s not the best at breaking serve and with Karlovic propping up the table in 61st place a long first set seems likely.
The rest of Monday’s card looks tricky, but I’m not sure I would have Juan Monaco as a 1.50 shot against Joao Sousa in a match that looks highly to go the distance.
The 1.57 on Sousa +1.5 sets seems a better bet with Pico hardly at his best on a fast outdoor hard court and I can’t see either player winning this one in two, so the over 22.5 games is perhaps the best option at 1.98.
Yen-Hsun Lu has a surprisingly poor record at tour level in Asia and in this tournament he’s only ever beaten low-ranked opponents from China.
Lu’s price of 1.66 is presumably based on the dominant win he enjoyed over Marcel Granollers in Winston-Salem a week before the US Open, but results that week need to be taken in the context of players saving themselves for a major.
The 2.17 on Granollers, who can serve well, volley very well and is effective in quick conditions could be one to consider as well.
Back over 10.5 total games in set one of Karlovic/Cilic at 2.45