Day three of the 2015 Miami Open sees the big names enter the fray, with Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray among those in action at Crandon Park on Friday.
And after the pain of a 1.01 loss on day one the second day in Key Biscayne was a happier one overall, with Alejandro Falla starting things off perfectly in a gutsy three set win over Michael Berrer as underdog.
A straight sets win for my ‘sure thing’ Martin Klizan over Paulo Lorenzi followed that, but the bad luck that has never been far away in 2015 reared its head again when my long shot was beaten after serving for a straight sets win.
Malek Jaziri was a set and 5-3 on Steve Darcis and a 1.03 shot in-running, but the Tunisian lost four straight games and ended up losing 7-5 in the third.
We have 16 second round matches scheduled for Friday and a year ago at this stage of the tournament there were 12 underdog winners from the 32 matches, with Edouard Roger-Vasselin’s win over Marin Cilic being the best of the lot at 5.0.
Fernando Verdasco vs James Duckworth
We did well yesterday to pick out Klizan and Alexandr Dolgopolov as the shortlisted ‘sure things’, with both winning in straight sets, as other short-priced shots were either beaten or had to fight very hard to survive.
Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson and Pablo Carreno Busta all lost, while Darcis and Borna Coric only very narrowly survived and Friday’s short-priced favourites don’t look that secure either.
So, I like the idea of backing Verdasco, who has been playing well this season, to repeat his win over Duckworth from Indian Wells.
Verdasco should have beaten Kei Nishikori at Indian Wells after beating Duckworth, but belief was missing, and although Ducky seems to be improving I doubt it’s fast enough to beat Verdasco here.
The Spaniard is a two-time quarter finalist in Miami, but he’s had a poor run of late, with three opening round losses in the last four years, which is a slight concern, but this looks a decent starter to end that particular run.
My other consideration here was Andy Murray to beat Donald Young 2-0 at around the same price of 1.32, with the wind today likely to make it a nightmare for the American against an opponent who seems to really enjoy it.
I'm not convinced by Rafa Nadal's fitness, while Tomas Berdych may have more of a match on his hands against young starlet Hyeon Chung than he would like in windy conditions and Stan Wawrinka can't really be trusted after his showing against Robin Haase at Indian Wells.
Santiago Giraldo vs Robin Haase
There looks to be plenty of value around today and this 17:00 UK time clash between the Colombian and the Dutchman seems to be one such match.
Haase has a poor record in Miami, as I mentioned the other day, but he wasn’t tested at all by a disappointing Kyle Edmund in round one here, however Giraldo, who has won half of his 14 Miami Open matches should certainly give Haase some problems.
Giraldo has won both of the pair’s career meetings in straight sets on hard and clay and in this kind of heat and humidity and with the crowd behind him I’m not too sure that Haase should be a 1.61 shot.
It’s forecast to be 30C again today, with 60 percent humidity and very windy, with 20mph+ winds expected at Crandon Park on Friday and I can see the temperamental Haase getting hot and bothered by it.
Austin Krajicek vs Bernard Tomic
I said the other day that Krajicek had a decent shot as underdog against Denis Istomin, but as regular readers will know, I can’t get involved in Istomin matches.
Hopefully some took a chance on the American in that one and those that didn’t have another opportunity on Friday when Krajicek faces a below par Tomic.
The Aussie withdrew from his slated clash with Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells last week citing toothache and a back problem and he was 50/50 about even playing Miami as a result.
An impacted wisdom tooth is one major issue surrounding Tomic and the back problem stems from a lot of tennis recently, which has forced him to change his schedule for the rest of the season.
All-in-all not a great situation to be coming into your opening match at a tournament where you hold a 2-4 record and were beaten love and one by Jarkko Nieminen a year ago.
Krajicek is on the upgrade and can take advantage of any drop in level from Tomic at a big price, with a retirement a possibility.
Other underdogs who have realistic chances of causing problems for the favourites include Nico Almagro, Tim Smyczek, Jarkko Nieminen and, who knows, maybe even Fabio Fognini if he feels like playing today.
Sure thing: Back Verdasco to beat Duckworth at 1.30
Value bet: Back Giraldo to beat Haase at 2.25
Long shot: Back Krajicek to beat Tomic at 3.30