The third round of matches at the 2015 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters takes place on Thursday in Monaco, with a host of stars in action.
And after receiving some foul luck on Tuesday the dose was repeated on Wednesday when Philipp Kohlschreiber was beaten from holding match point on his own serve three times.
The German was serving for the win against Roberto Bautista-Agut, but couldn’t put the Spaniard away, despite being a 1.11 shot in-play and it was another one to add to 2015’s list of multiple match point-up defeats.
That was after Tommy Robredo had easily landed my ‘sure thing’ bet with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Marcel Granollers, while Jeremy Chardy was abject in a feeble loss to Roger Federer without even testing the Swiss let alone winning a set.
Interestingly, all bar one of the top-16 seeds have made it through to the last-16, with the hapless Ernests Gulbis the only exception and last year’s third round produced two underdog winners from seven matches.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez’s 5.37 success over Tomas Berdych was the pick of the shocks – well, the only one really – and Berdych is one of those in action on Thursday.
David Ferrer vs Gilles Simon
There are plenty of short-priced options today and of them all I have to pick Ferrer as the most solid, with the Spaniard holding a significant mental edge over the Frenchman.
The pair have met plenty of times – nine in all – with Ferrer winning seven of them and all four of the ones played on clay and Simon’s wins have come on much quicker surfaces.
It usually comes down to stamina and energy between this pair and few, if any, can beat Ferrer in that department and Simon doesn’t have the weight of shot on slow clay to make life uncomfortable for the Spanish warrior.
After a very tight first set contested between the two in Miami a few weeks ago Ferrer ran away with set two and if the over/under markets are out for set two the unders could be worth a look should Ferrer win the opener.
You won’t get rich on Ferrer at 1.17, but he looks more of a solid pick than Roger Federer at 1.26 or Rafa Nadal at 1.11, while Berdych could easily fall at this stage again.
One alternative could be the 1.28 about the over 18.5 total games in Rafa Nadal vs John Isner and more on that one below.
Rafael Nadal vs John Isner
This 13:00 UK time start should see Nadal at least tested for the first time this week after a pretty comfortable win over Lucas Pouille on Wednesday.
Rafa played well in that win over the inexperienced Frenchman, who didn’t really test the Spaniard’s nerves out early on when Nadal would have been edgy.
That surely won’t be the case on Thursday when the eight-time former champion will need to be right on it from the word go to get the better of an Isner who is playing with confidence right now.
The big man edged out Viktor Troicki in a typically tight Isner affair in which the American saved all seven break points he faced and won the two tie breaks.
Isner has caused Nadal problems on clay in the past, most notably when taking him to five in the 2011 French Open, and Nadal has never in four meetings managed to win the opening set in fewer than 9.5 games.
Two scores of 7-5, one of 7-6 and a 6-4 have been the outcomes in the past and only once in the last nine sets they’ve contested has a set ended in nine games or fewer.
Nadal will most probably win this one and the second set could well prove to be more comfortable, but over 9.5 games in set one at 1.66 looks decent here.
Gael Monfils vs Roger Federer
Hopefully today’s French long shot will perform rather better than Chardy did and there is plenty to like about the chances of Monfils in this 12th career meeting with Federer.
Lamonf has looked in good nick so far this week, which is unusual for Gael in this tournament, and he will have the confidence of having thrashed Federer in their last meeting to call upon in this 11:00 UK time encounter.
Monfils took Federer apart in Davis Cup on clay at the end of last season and should really have beaten the Swiss maestro in the US Open a couple of months earlier, but ended up losing in five.
Indeed, Monfils has at least taken Fed to a deciding set in five of their last six meetings stretching back to 2010 and if the unpredictable showman fancies it he could prove to be a great starting point for an in-play bet at least.
We didn’t learn much about Fed’s clay form in the Chardy romp, with the latter failing to even get his serve in play much of the time and the world number two could be a little undercooked here.
Sure thing: Back Ferrer to beat Simon at 1.17
Value bet: Back over 9.5 games in set one of Nadal/Isner at 1.66
Long shot: Back Monfils to beat Federer at 3.80