The Asian swing of the 2015 ATP World Tour steps up the pace on Tuesday, with 18 matches on the schedule at the Malaysian Open and Shenzhen Open.
And it was a good start to this section of the tour on Monday when my only bet of the day on Benjamin Becker against Sam Groth was a very comfortable winner.
The German veteran ensured that the +1.5 sets wager was a winner very early when he took the opener 6-1 against the Aussie and those who went further and backed Becker to win the match were rewarded too, as he ended up a straight sets victor.
It wasn’t a great performance from Groth, but it wasn’t a great price on him either, so that one worked out very well, as did my advice of avoiding Ernests Gulbis as a 1.63 shot.
Ernie retired citing a right wrist injury at a set and a break down and as I had suggested all Millman needed to do was to be solid and Gulbis could well hand him the match with errors, which proved to be the case.
It’s a busy day on Tuesday, with eight matches on the card in Kuala Lumpur, and 10 in Shenzhen and they start at 08:00 UK time.
Ricardas Berankis vs Hiroki Moriya
There are plenty of options for short-priced backers on Tuesday, but for me, the two who look the most likely are Berankis to beat Moriya and Hyeon Chung to beat Di Wu.
Berankis has been in decent form this summer on grass and hard courts and the Lithuanian should have too much in his armoury for Moriya, who has a 4-23 record against top-100 opposition.
The 24-year-old Japanese has lost 23 of his last 24 against the top-100 and he’s 1-7 in the main draw of ATP World Tour and Grand Slam level tournaments, with the one win coming over Robin Haase in Bangkok in 2012.
Berankis has a 10-2 record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite and should not be losing this 11:00 UK time clash in Shenzhen at a tournament where he defeated Gilles Simon a year ago as a big underdog, so conditions clearly suit him.
Chung has been in good form lately too, with a win at the Kaohsiung City Challenger a few days ago and from there it’s just a one-and-a-half hour flight to Shenzhen, so he shouldn’t have any problems in that regard.
He faces wild card Di Wu, who has been around the tour for a while, but success has been hard to come by for the 24-year-old from Wuhan, who is probably a bit on the short side at 5’8” for this level.
You need to be very good to have an impact at that height these days and without any real weapons to speak of it’s no surprise that Wu has a very similar record to Moriya against the top-100.
In completed matches Wu is 2-23, with both wins coming in Davis Cup – one over Denis Istomin and the other 9-7 in the fifth over Yen-Hsun Lu.
Chung didn’t drop a set in winning in Kaohsiung City and before that took Stan Wawrinka to three tie breaks at the US Open, so he looks a solid pick to make a 1.41 double.
Matthew Ebden vs Victor Estrella Burgos
I’ve never been a huge fan of Ebden and he looks a pretty dismal price at 1.64 against the more than capable Estrella Burgos in this 11:00 UK time clash in Shenzhen.
Ebden has lost six of his last nine matches at all levels in China and he hasn’t won a match at main level here since a 10-8 final set tie break win over Gilles Simon in Shanghai in 2011.
Last week the Aussie was beaten at the Kaohsiung City Challenger by 30-year-old world number 283 Jimmy Wang and he’s won only one match at main level in 2015 and that was a success on grass at Wimbledon over Blaz Rola.
He’s lost 12 of his last 14 in the main draw of tour level and up tournaments and I’m not quite sure where this price comes from against a player who has had a week off since Davis Cup duty.
Estrella beat big-serving Dustin Brown in Davis Cup before being outclassed by Philipp Kohlschreiber and he has won a higher percentage of matches against the top-100 in his career than Ebden.
He’s won eight matches against top-100 opposition this season and that includes the likes of Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Feli Lopez and I assume the theory here is that it’ll be too quick for him in Shenzhen.
I’m not convinced that Ebden is good enough to expose the lack of backhand in the Dominican’s game and he looks decent value at 2.18 here.
I also considered Aljaz Bedene and Tatsuma Ito as potentially good value too, but Ito’s retirement due to fatigue last week puts me off him, while Bedene might be a touch short against the unpredictable Mikhail Youzhny.
Zhizhen Zhang vs Go Soeda
I’m going to take a bit of a chance on young Chinese qualifier Zhang here against the very much out of form Soeda.
Zhang defeated Luke Saville in qualies to make the first round and he’s beaten some other pretty decent players this season too, so this shouldn’t be a comfortable win for a player struggling for form as Soeda is.
The Japanese was beaten by 376 ranked Amir Weintraub at the Nanchang Challenger in his last match and before that by 282 ranked Marco Trungelliti and he’s won only one of his last five matches in all.
Perhaps surprisingly Soeda has only ever played five main draw matches at tour level in China and he’s only won one of those, which was against 495-ranked Yan Bai in Beijing back in 2008.
Soeda has lost 15 times in his career to players ranked 582 and lower, including two last year, and he’s no stranger to a bad loss against a low ranked opponent – and this one should be motivated playing his debut match in the main draw at this level.
Over in Kuala Lumpur I was toying with Yuchi Sugita against the ageing Radek Stepanek, but perhaps at a shorter price Marcos Baghdatis could be an option against Nico Almagro, whose last match on a hard court was a US Open qualies loss to Guilherme Clezar.
Sure thing: Back Berankis and Chung in a double at 1.41
Value bet: Back Estrella to beat Ebden at 2.18
Long shot: Back Zhang to beat Soeda at 3.55