Round two matches are the order of the day in Bastad, Bogota and Umag on Thursday in week 29 of the 2015 ATP World Tour.
We managed to get another ‘long shot’ winner over the line on Wednesday when Alexander Zverev rewarded 2-0 backers of the young German against Juan Monaco at a tasty 4.50.
As good as Zverev was Andreas Seppi was about the opposite in an error-ridden performance against Joao Sousa in Umag.
Seppi threw in a shocker to lose with barely a whimper, but ‘sure thing’ Sam Groth provided another winner at the end of the day with a three set success over Guido Pella.
Looking back at last year’s round two matches in Bogota we saw only one underdog winner from eight matches, while in Bastad there were two (including Renzo Olivo’s win over Tommy Robredo at 6.50), and Umag’s round two saw three odds-against winners from seven.
We start with my old nemesis Denis Istomin in Bastad, who opened at a very appealing price against Nico Almagro, who was a paltry 1.28, but that’s changed now to 1.40.
Istomin has won all four against Almagro in the past and is worth considering as an underdog, while Nico is far from a cert in that 10:00 UK time start.
David Goffin is also on the ‘no bet’ list, but he really should be beating Benoit Paire, but the rest in Bastad look competitive.
It’s set to be windy again today in Bastad, with 17mph winds forecast, and one match appeals in Sweden.
Pablo Cuevas vs Federico Delbonis
Delbonis looked very much below par and jaded in his round one match against a pumped up Rogerio Dutra Silva and he needed to really up his game to bet through that one.
A strong wind won’t help Delbonis’ ball toss either and if he is struggling after a tough Davis Cup weekend I like the -2.5 games on the handicap about Cuevas in this 16:00 approx. UK time start.
Cuevas has been playing Bundesliga winning all of his matches in that competition since Wimbledon on clay, so he should be well prepared for a bid to defend the title he won here a year ago.
Conditions clearly suit Cuevas, while it’s yet to be seen if Delbonis can handle the wind here, and the Argentine does have a habit of dropping sets by wide margins, which leads me to the handicap.
In his last four matches at main level he’s dropped sets either 6-1, 6-0 or 6-2 and he’s been sent to the bakery 10 times so far in 2015 at main level.
Cuevas is likely to be the fresher player and the more determined, with a title to defend and he’s more than capable of covering a small handicap like 2.5 games as he has done in his last six match wins.
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Blaz Kavcic
RBA and Philipp Kohlschreiber look the ones to focus on today for short-priced punters, with the Spaniard facing what will be an exhausted Kavcic, who just about got through against Andrey Rublev yesterday.
It was hot and humid in Umag yesterday again and Kavcic admitting that he “let the second set go” against Rublev “hoping to feel better in the third” and a clash against the metronomic Bautista-Agut seems the last thing his body needs.
RBA has won eight of his nine career matches as a 1.01 to 1.20 favourite, with the one defeat coming to the dangerous Dmitry Tursunov in Rome in 2014, while Kavcic is 0-11 as a 7.0 underdog or bigger.
Kohlschreiber also may face a less than fit opponent, although it’s difficult to tell with Paulo Lorenzi, who always looked dishevelled on court, but he was sporting a lot of tape on his leg in round one.
The Italian struggled past world number 451 Matteo Trevisan 7-5 in the decider in his opener and this is a big step up for Lorenzi, who’s lost 14 of his last 16 against top-50 opponents.
One of those wins was against an injured Alexandr Dolgopolov and Kohlschreiber has a good 41-4 (17-1 on clay) record as a 1.01 to 1.20 favourite, winning his last 10.
The double pays around 1.23 and looks the best ‘sure thing’ on Thursday.
There are a few underdogs who have chances today and they include Istomin, Steve Darcis, Dusan Lajovic, Aljaz Bedene on the clay.
Malek Jaziri vs Alexander Sarkissian
For a ‘long shot’ today I like an overs double and this 18:00 UK time start in Bogota between Jaziri and Sarkissian looks one for over total games.
Sarkissian is playing with great confidence at the moment after winning 12 of his last 14 matches at a lower level and he’s very much attuned to these Bogota conditions after winning three matches here so far.
He probably won’t win this one, but Jaziri has only won one match in 2015 in fewer than 21.5 games and with Sarkissian winning 92 percent of his first serve points and not facing a break point against John Millman in round one breaks of serve may be scarce.
Ivo Karlovic plays his first match in Bogota this year against Daniel Elahi Galan Riveros and over 10.5 games seems likely here at 2.02.
Never the best of returners it’s likely that Ivo will take a little time to get a level on the Galan serve after the Colombian won 31 of 37 first serve points against Pere Riba in round one.
Galan’s last seven matches have all been in Colombia and if he serves as well again it seems unlikely that Karlovic will break often – or at all – in these conditions.
Sure thing: Back Kohlschreiber and Bautista Agut ain a double at 1.23
Value bet: Back Cuevas -2.5 games to beat Delbonis at 1.74
Long shot: Back over 21.5 games in Jaziri/Sarkissian and over 10.5 games in set one of Karlovic/Galan at 3.66