The round of 16 begins at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Wednesday, with Novak Djokovic among the big names in action on day seven of the BNP Paribas Masters.
We managed to get another two bets from three over the line on Tuesday, with the ‘sure thing’ of zero tie breaks in Roger Federer’s clash with Andreas Seppi proving to be just that in a comfy win for the Swiss.
My headline value bet of the day was also pretty comfortable when Tommy Robredo and Grigor Dimitrov split the first two sets and ended up going deep in the third for a successful overs wager there, but Alexandr Dolgopolov fell short against Milos Raonic.
I said yesterday that Dolgo had been serving well, but that didn’t continue, with no aces and he needed something similar to last year when he out-aced the Canadian to have a decent chance.
There are another eight matches in-play on Wednesday and I like a couple of bets in the late encounter at 03:30 UK time.
Novak Djokovic vs John Isner
This one looks all set to be another nightmare for Djokovic and one in which he’s not guaranteed to emerge unscathed.
Isner’s serve is all but impossible to return effectively in these conditions and it usually takes the very best players in the world to beat him at this tournament.
Djokovic is one such opponent of course, but even arguably the best returner in men’s tennis has only won one of his two clashes with the American at this event.
Indeed, Isner has taken at least one set from Djokovic in four of their last five meetings and in all seven prior meetings set one has gone to at least 12 games.
That makes the over 10.5 games in set one at 2.20 my ‘value bet’ in this one, although the +1.5 sets on Isner at 2.55 and the over 27.5 games at 3.05 are other good options for value bets.
The world number one has been suffering with a supposedly minor foot injury and he wasn’t great in an unexpected struggle against Albert Ramos in round three.
Djokovic has had his struggles against big servers on a fairly regular basis, with losses to Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Sam Querrey in recent times and if he is below par physically this could be a long, frustrating night for the Serb.
If Isner serves at his best he can win this and I wouldn’t put anyone off chancing the 6.50 about the big man winning this as a long shot, but the scheduling of this match at 20:30 local time (03:30 UK) in the coldest part of the day puts me off that one.
Those looking for a ‘sure thing’ today can also find one in this match, with the over 19.5 games surely a licence to print money at 1.29.
In 22 matches at Indian Wells going back to 2009 Isner has only played two matches that ended in 19 games or fewer and they were this week’s win over Jurgen Melzer and a win over Yen-Hsun Lu a year ago.
The quickest in terms of games played between Isner and Djokovic is the 21 in a 7-6, 6-2 win for Djokovic back in 2010 at the China Open and that’s the only one of their five best-of-three-sets meetings that have finished in under 31 total games.
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Bernard Tomic
This all-Aussie clash at around midnight UK time (5pm local) might well be closer than the prices suggest, with the layers making the assumption that Kokky will be exhausted.
They might be right after a couple of tight three setters so far this tournament against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Juan Monaco, but Kokkinakis will be – or should be – very much up for this clash with his Davis Cup team mate and surely will at least start strongly.
The pair clashed earlier this season in Brisbane and with the way that Kokkinakis has been playing of late showing plenty of improvement it’s hard to see Tomic as a shorter priced favourite today than he was in January.
I was tempted by the 3.25 on Kokkinakis too, but I’m only prepared to trust him in set one this time, as if he loses a tight opener he could well fade away.
Elsewhere, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic should both progress, but I’m far from convinced about the former in these conditions and Feli Lopez could make it hard for the Japanese.
Lopez would like it quicker though and this is only his second visit to the last-16 at Indian Wells since his debut in 2003, which hardly inspires confidence in the Spaniard as an outsider.
Sure thing: Back over 19.5 total games in Djokovic/Isner at 1.29
Value bet: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Djokovic/Isner at 2.20
Long shot: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Kokkinakis/Tomic at 3.0