Ivo Karlovic has never beaten Ivan Dodig in four attempts, and it's worth backing Dodig to make that five when the pair meet in Croatia later today, writes Unibet columnist Sean Calvert...
The last-16 combatants in Montpellier, Zagreb and Vina Del Mar are set to face off for quarter finals spots on Thursday in this week’s three ATP 250 events.
It was one winning wager from my two on Wednesday when Blaz Kavcic took the first set over Igor Sijsling to land the set handicap in their first rounder in Zagreb, but Julien Benneteau was up against a rare spirited effort from Nikolay Davydenko that continued my bad luck with French players this week. Davy served the best I've seen him for years and, on that form, he could be a big threat in Montpellier this week.
There are eight second round matches in Montpellier today, seven in Zagreb an five in Vina del Mar and my first match of interest takes place this afternoon at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors.
Ivan Dodig vs Ivo Karlovic – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 16.05 GMT
I was a little surprised to find Dodig only a narrow favourite for this fifth career clash between the two big serving Croats and perhaps news of Dodig’s back problem has skewed the odds slightly.
I would have put Dodig in at around 1.65 or so here, given his 4-0 head-to-head record over Karlovic and the fact that he’s been training indoors in Zagreb for over a week.
Karlovic’s price has probably come in a few points after the big man fired down 44 aces against Daniel Brands in the first round, but he was hardly convincing in winning that serve-fest and Dodig clearly has a decent enough read on Ivo’s serve after defeating him four times.
The only concern for me here is the back issue that Dodig has had, but he played in doubles yesterday and claimed to be operating at full strength earlier in the week and it's been at best guesswork with the fitness and health of most players this week in any case.
A price of around 1.78 outright or 2.16 minus 1.5 games look the best options in this 4pm UK time encounter in Zagreb.
In Montpellier it looks a day for the favourites and I’m struggling to find any real value in the underdogs today at the Open Sud de France.
Denis Istomin vs Dmitry Tursunov could go either way first up at 11am, while it should, finally, be a better day for the French, with Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils all looking pretty secure at short prices.
Jerzy Janowicz looked back to something like his best in Davis Cup last week and should be too strong for Adrian Mannarino and the only two who look like they could be vulnerable are Edouard Roger-Vasselin at 1.30 against Dustin Brown and Jarkko Nieminen against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Brown could easily take a set against ERV if he serves well, while I’m not convinced that Jarkko has all that much left at this level in his 33rd year. That said, it's questionable whether the young Frenchman is good enough to get the job done at the moment.
In Zagreb, I like Dudi Sela to take care of Lukas Lacko first up at 10am, while Mikhail Youzhny and Phillip Kohlschreiber if fit should both prevail, but the latter did have an injury problem in Davis Cup last weekend and isn’t worth risking for me.
Tommy Haas vs Benjamin Becker – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 17.05 GMT
Another German who had injury problems in his country’s home win over Spain is Haas, who has struggled all season so far with a shoulder complaint and was deemed fit enough only for the doubles in Davis Cup.
In singles Tommy hasn’t won a match or a set in 2014 and today’s clash against fellow German veteran Becker is tricky, with the latter banging down big serves and forehands making it hard for the out of practice Haas to get much of a rhythm going.
Becker was incredibly fortunate to reach this stage after Jesse Huta Galung produced a choke for the ages in round one, but he won’t be worried about that and can cause Haas problems as he has done in previous meetings with his countryman.
The over 9.5 games in set one looks good here, as does the over 21.5 total games and the Becker first set at 2.65 is worthy of consideration too.
Over in Vina del Mar it’s been another strange old clay event, with miraculous comebacks and surprise defeats for favourites and I personally wouldn’t risk Nico Almagro, Federico Delbonis or Fabio Fognini at short prices today.
Back Dodig to beat Karlovic at 1.78
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Haas/Becker at 1.75