There’s round two action from Houston and Marrakech on the ATP World Tour on Thursday, with the top seeds opening their campaigns on the clay.
It was a good day for our wagers at the Grand Prix Hassan II on Wednesday, as both outrights advanced and Paulo Lorenzi landed our one match bet of the day, winning six straight games to take down Guillermo Garcia-Lopez as underdog.
And there was also some success at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship when Horacio Zeballos proved to be a good value choice against Rogerio Dutra Silva, as the Argentine progressed in straight sets.
Adam Pavlasek looked to be on course to make it a clean sweep when he led Leonardo Mayer by a set and 2-1, but then the Czech’s level dipped and he only won one further game in a disappointing collapse.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Tommy Robredo
This 13:00 local time clash on Centre Court in Marrakech looks the one to focus on at the Grand Prix Hassan II on Thursday, with our top seed facing a tricky challenge in his first match on clay for almost a year.
Dimitrov last played on clay at the French Open of 2016 and it’s unusual for him to take part in a tournament before Monte-Carlo, as he hasn’t done so since back in 2011 when he played Houston.
It does, on the face of it, seem unlikely that he’ll be busting a gut this week, with an exhibition event originally planned in for Saturday in Monte-Carlo and I’d hazard a guess that he’s probably agreed to play a match or two.
I could be completely wrong on that of course, but what’s not up for debate are Dimitrov’s mediocre clay service hold/break stats over the past year and a 1-2 career series scoreline against Robredo.
While it’s true to say that Dimitrov was in one of his slumps during the clay swing last season his hold/break total of 94.8 (75.3% holds/19.5% breaks) is poor for a player of his ranking and ability.
That’s less than one percent better than Steve Johnson (more on him below) and in three meetings with Robredo the Spaniard has never failed to take at least a set.
The most recent was a couple of years ago in Indian Wells when Robredo won as a 3.16 chance and in all three clashes Dimitrov was the higher ranked player.
Robredo has suffered badly with injury over the last few years and he’s not the force of old, but his clay service hold/break stats in his last 10 matches at main level are still very good, with a 106.5 total, made up of 77.7% holds and 28.8% breaks.
The match he had in round one against Sergiy Stakhovsky should help the veteran, who should be able to cover a +4.5 game handicap here, with Dimitrov also coming off a very poor spell in Miami and Indian Wells.
Elsewhere in Marrakech I’m hopeful of a good performance from Jeremy Chardy, who has every chance on his best form against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who hasn’t played the Grand Prix Hassan II since 2004 when he lost in round one against Dominik Hrbaty.
Our other outright Jiri Vesely has a favourite’s chance against Mischa Zverev, whose clay stats are awful, but there’s not a lot else that appeals for a wager in Morocco today.
Steve Johnson vs Dustin Brown
I’m happy to take on Johnson as favourite in this clash with the unpredictable Brown, with the American holding poor clay stats and coming off the back of a long journey following defeat in Davis Cup (the extra day will have helped him though).
Johnson’s service hold/break stats in his last 10 matches on clay amount to a very average mark of 94.0 (79.2% holds/14.8% breaks) and in all 24 matches on the dirt he’s played at main level is more or less the same.
The American has a poor 2-4 record in Houston too, so it looks to me to be a very chancy wager backing him today against an opponent whose clay stats are better and who looks in form after beating defending champion Juan Monaco in round one.
Brown weighs in with 78.1% holds and 24% breaks over his last 10 matches on clay at main level for a 102.1 total that’s a good eight percent better than Johnson’s mark.
Their one career clash saw Johnson edge it in a final set tie break, despite winning two fewer points in the match, on indoor hard in Memphis two years ago.
But on clay where Brown has the edge and he’s shown a liking for this Fast-Dry dirt too, with three wins from four in Houston in his career and wins over Isner and Monaco.
1 point win Robredo +4.5 games to beat Dimitrov at 1.89
1 point win Brown to beat Johnson at 2.12