The star names are in action on Wednesday at the Mutua Madrid Open, with Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer all play their opening matches of the week.
And hopefully it will be a better day than Tuesday, which yielded just the one winner from my three bets, and that was a very easy success for ‘sure thing’ Gael Monfils.
Lamonf cruised past Viktor Troicki for the loss of just games, which was the same number as the amount of racquets obliterated by the angry Serb, who was totally outclassed.
Nick Kyrgios produced a fabulous display of serving that didn’t give Daniel Gimeno-Traver any real chance in their match, while Pablo Cuevas let a set lead slip against Albert Ramos and lost a tight one.
There are 14 matches on the schedule again on Wednesday and looking back at last year’s round two in Madrid it produced seven underdog winners from 16 matches, with Dominic Thiem’s win over Stan Wawrinka the pick of the prices.
Kei Nishikori vs David Goffin
Last year’s finalist (and should have been titlist, but for injury) Nishikori plays his first match today and this looks a good match-up for the Japanese, who is better in all departments than Goffin.
That gap in class showed itself clearly in their only prior meeting, which was on slow outdoor hard in Miami five weeks ago, and I don’t see a different result taking place on clay unless injury strikes.
Nishikori defended his Barcelona title a fortnight ago and looks in the sort of form once again to challenge here in Madrid and it’s hard to see Goffin’s solid if unspectacular game ending that challenge early.
The Belgian’s weak serve against Kei’s very good return puts Goffin on the back foot from the off and Nishikori’s better ball striking and athleticism have made him very hard to beat on the clay.
Goffin does the advantage of having played three sets at the Caja Magica already, so his best chance will be early on, but it looks a very tough ask for the Belgian.
Steve Johnson also faces a mammoth task as he tries to take on Rafael Nadal’s heavily spun forehands with his own highly questionable backhand.
The American has only played eight matches against lefties at main level and he’s been beaten twice by Fernando Verdasco, which suggests that Rafa should have few problems in this one and the 2-0 to Nadal seems likely.
David Ferrer vs Albert Ramos
Ferrer has proven to be a highly questionable choice for handicap backers in recent times and his style of play doesn’t generally lend itself to winning by wide margin, which has alerted me to the +5.5 games on Albert Ramos today.
Ferrer has to win this 6-3, 6-3 or better if he wins it in two, which is the assumption, and I think in his first match in Madrid this year against an opponent who’s already played seven-and-a-half sets this week it’s a tall order.
Indeed, Ramos gave Ferrer a real test here at the Caja Magica in their second round clash here a year ago, with Ferrer eventually winning 7-6, 5-7, 6-3.
The leftie is a tough one to predict, but he’s clearly in tune with the conditions here after beating Cuevas yesterday and this could well be a harder day for Ferrer than the layers expect.
He was beaten in a really choky performance by Andujar last time out in Barcelona and failed to cover -5.5 games against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Elias Ymer that week.
Ferrer has failed to cover that handicap 17 times this season and eight of those occasions were against players ranked 51 or lower in-best-of-three set matches.
Roger Federer vs Nick Kyrgios
This looks the match of the day in Madrid today and while I expect Federer to win it he looks really short to do so based on his displays last week in Istanbul, which were distinctly average.
Conditions should suit the Swiss better here where it’s quicker, but the 3.75 on Kyrgios winning the opening set looks a decent long shot for Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Aussie served superbly yesterday, winning 33 of 38 first serve points and posting a 75 percent first serve mark and a repeat of those numbers will make this interesting.
Federer traditionally raises his game against the young upstarts in the game and he hasn’t lost to a player under the age of 21 since losing to Juan Martin Del Potro in the 2009 US Open final and I doubt very much that he’ll underestimate Kyrgios in any way here.
But it’s a big ask for the Swiss to come out in his opening match and play and in-form Kyrgios off the court, with the latter having now had a match under his belt.
Over 21.5 games also looks likely here if Kyrgios serves well again, but this kid is no respecter of reputations and he’ll be pumped to come out and try and make a statement against arguably the best player of all time and he has a shot of grabbing the opener.
Sure thing: Back Nishikori to beat Goffin at 1.18
Value bet: Back Ramos +5.5 games to beat Ferrer at 1.82
Long shot: Back Kyrgios to win set one at 3.75