There’s round two action in prospect on Thursday in Gstaad, Hamburg and Atlanta in week 30 of the 2015 ATP World Tour, with 12 matches on the card for today.
We kicked off Wednesday with an excellent 3.60 winner for my ‘long shot’ Lucas Pouille, who was too powerful for Juan Monaco, with the latter seemingly still struggling with a wrist injury.
Perhaps I’m being kind to Pico and maybe he wasn’t injured, but there was a big gap in the power on the ground strokes and serve between the Argentine and the Frenchman on the day.
Pouille looked good in that one, as did ‘sure thing’ Gilles Muller, who eased past the limited challenge of Jared Donaldson in two comfortable sets in Atlanta and Marcos Baghdatis completed a clean sweep with a tight win over Sam Groth later.
Federico Delbonis vs Dominic Thiem
I do think there’s some value in siding with Delbonis in this Gstaad second round clash with Thiem, who may well not be too upset if he makes an early exit this week.
The Austrian had a tough week in very hot temperatures in Umag last week on top of Davis Cup duty and next week he’s due to play a home tournament in Kitzbuhel.
He also had an 800km drive to reach Gstaad, so under the circumstances it wouldn’t be too much of a shock if he lost this, and to add a bit more into the mix Thiem has lost his last three to left-handers.
Gerald Melzer, Mischa Zverev and Fernando Verdasco have all beaten Thiem of late and he doesn’t seem to like a high bouncing ball up to his backhand side, which Delbonis has the height at 6’3” to produce on serve.
Delbonis does hit a loopy rally ball too and in a first meeting between the two there’s enough in this to side with the underdog, who has played well at altitude before – notably when he won Sao Paulo.
The ball bounces very high in Gstaad and the Delbonis forehand versus the Thiem one-handed backhand battle could well fall in favour of the Argentine.
Also in Gstaad the layers have made Pablo Carreno Busta favourite against Robin Haase, with the underdog the only one of the two proven at altitude and a bit of value for me at 2.70 for sure.
Another option for value seekers on Thursday is Denis Istomin against Joao Sousa for similar reasons to the Thiem reasoning, whereby Sousa has played Davis Cup and a long week in Umag, and may well be struggling physically.
Jack Sock vs Denis Kudla
Sock may well win this sixth career clash with Kudla, but he’s awfully short to do so at 1.37 given that he faces a confident opponent who’s beaten him the last twice in his first match on a hard court since Miami back in the spring.
Yes, Sock has played doubles this week, but it was only one match and he and Vasek Pospisil lost it to scratch pairing Muller and Colin Fleming.
Kudla’s excellent run on grass this summer has given him a real boost and after coming through a tight one against Ryan Harrison in round one and through qualies Kudla will be better attuned to conditions.
The pair haven’t met since back in 2012, but Kudla has won the only two at senior level, with Sock’s wins all coming in Futures and Juniors, not that the head-to-head has much relevance from so long ago.
More of a worry to me if I were a Sock backer would be his recent form, which wasn’t at all good on grass, and it may take a little time for him to find his feet in this one back on a hard court.
Alternative ‘long shot’ options today include Jerzy Janowicz against Pablo Cuevas, purely on the basis that the latter has lost his last seven going back to 2011 against players of 6’4” in height or taller. On clay ability I wouldn't expect it to be an upset, but Pablo's record against the big guys would worry me at a short price today.
I can’t really see Jiri Vesely or Jaume Munar causing an upset, although it would be most welcome if they did for my outrights, but as ever I wouldn’t touch David Goffin as a 1.27 shot – he has lost two of his last four at that price.
John Isner vs Radek Stepanek
Steps has a good record against Isner, but all were several years ago now and it remains to be seen how much the veteran Czech has to offer at this very late stage of his career.
The 3-1 head-to-head record in favour of Steps has made today’s price on Isner, who holds a 16-3 record in Atlanta, where conditions suit his game, a reasonable one for a ‘sure thing’ bet today.
Isner has a 24-4 career record on hard courts at main level when priced as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite, while Stepanek has a 1-12 record on hard courts when priced as a 3.0 to 4.0 underdog.
In the heat and humidity of Atlanta, where it’s expected to be in the mid-30s and humid, it’s hard to see the 36-year-old being able to produce the all-court game that has been effective in the past.
Sure thing: Back Isner to beat Stepanek at 1.31
Value bet: Back Delbonis to beat Thiem at 2.23
Long shot: Back Kudla to beat Sock at 3.0