The ATP World Tour moves on to Tokyo and Beijing in week 40, with two ATP 500 tournaments on offer this week.
We signed off from week 39 with one winner from two bets on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen when Tommy Robredo landed the +1.5 sets wager in China, while Kei Nishikori was allowed to win too easily in Malaysia.
Robredo was a comfortable winner, as he took the opener and should have gone on to take the title in two, but Murray saved five match points (four straight) to start the comeback from which he never looked back.
Nishikori should also have lost the opener when Julien Benneteau served for it, but Benny being Benny he wasn’t able to see it through.
We have a dozen matches on the card for the early hours of Monday in the China Open in Beijing and Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo and at least three take my eye today.
The China Open is played in tough, humid conditions, with poor air quality posing a problem and the playing surface is a medium paced Decoturf hard court.
The rancid air makes the balls a little heavier in Beijing and faster conditions can be found in Tokyo, where the balls tend to fly on their outdoor hard courts at the Ariake Coliseum.
Play begins at 03:00 UK time in Tokyo, where the ones I like are Alex Dolgopolov and Kevin Anderson today.
I would expect conditions to be too quick for Anderson’s opponent Dominic Thiem in this one, with the young Austrian preferring to take a big cut at the ball and here he will be rushed by the South African, I would expect.
Jack Sock vs Alexandr Dolgopolov
Anderson’s price of 1.57 is just a touch short though and I prefer taking on the 1.93 about the returning Dolgo on the handicap against Sock here in their 09:00 UK time start.
Dolgopolov has been out injured for some 11 weeks with a knee problem and he still sports protective tape on it from the public practise sessions in Tokyo this weekend.
He wouldn’t be back playing if it were a major issue though and Sock himself has also been struggling for fitness lately after retiring in his last match, which was at the US Open a month ago.
So, both are lacking match fitness and sharpness, but I like Dolgo against the one-dimensional power hitters and Sock falls nicely into that category.
Dolgo is an excellent returner and he showcased all of his skills when he took Milos Raonic apart at Indian Wells earlier in the season by nullifying the Canadian’s weapon and he can easily do something similar to Sock here.
The layers think this one will be close, but unless Dolgo struggles with the knee I can’t see it being that tight a match and the Ukrainian should be able to cover a 1.5 game handicap in this one.
I also considered Marcel Granollers at a big price against David Ferrer, but Granollers has had a wrist problem, which puts me off, as does the poor head-to-head against Ferrer.
The higher ranked Spaniard can’t be confident right now though and the first set might be closer than the layers have it in that one.
Over in Beijing I like Vasek Pospisil to take down Lukas Rosol, but again he’s a little short at 1.55, while Grigor Dimitrov’s poor record in Asia and 0-2 record against Fernando Verdasco makes him vulnerable as a 1.31 favourite against the Spanish lefty.
The 2.80 about Verdasco winning set one looks a decent choice in that one, as does the 1.72 about it going over 9.5 games in set one.
Back Dolgopolov –1.5 games to beat Sock at 1.93