The 2014 ATP World Tour reaches its final stop of the regular season in week 44 at the Masters 1000 level BNP Paribas Masters in Bercy, Paris.
A weary and bedraggled group of players arrive at the Palais Omnisport with varying levels of motivation in the last tournament for most before they head off to warmer climes.
Some have the World Tour Finals and Davis Cup ahead of them – and in some cases both – but the majority have their Bermuda shorts packed and are ready to hit the beach, so punters beware in week 44.
In the first round in Bercy last year there were 11 underdog winners from 16 matches, which pretty much tallies with the level of commitment I’m expecting this week in Paris.
There are 10 matches on the card today and not many leap off the page in terms of betting value.
The two handicap opportunities that I like the look of today concern Philipp Kohlschreiber and Julien Benneteau and I’m going to take the shade of odds-on on Benny today.
Julien Benneteau vs Yen-Hsun Lu
Benny has been in rare form in Masters 1000s of late, with a semi-final in Cincy and a quarter final in Shanghai and he can get his home Masters off to a good start by easing past Lu here.
Conditions in Bercy tend to be on the slow to medium side these days and Lu likes it quicker.
Benny’s all-court game really suits these slowish indoor courts and he showed it again in Kuala Lumpur recently, where he made the final again.
Lu is not much of an indoor hard court man, with a losing 14-26 record in these conditions in his career at tour level, and the Frenchman should be motivated with Davis Cup on the horizon.
Benny and Lu have only ever met on grass at Eastbourne in the past, with the Frenchman winning in two this season and Lu triumphing in 2012, but Benny’s game has that bit more to it indoors than Lu’s and we’ll see him up at net more finishing off points.
The minus 3.5 games at 2.02 looks worth taking in this 19:30 UK time start this evening.
Elsewhere, Kohlschreiber’s 14:00 UK time start pits the German against another Frenchman, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who has a poor record here and who is on a bad run following injury.
Kohlschreiber has had few problems in the past with ERV, winning all three of their career meetings and by margins of four and five games in the best of threes and by seven in the US Open last year.
ERV has won just one of six matches at this tournament and the one was an early retirement by Mischa Zverev in qualies back in 2010 and he’s yet to win one in the main draw.
The German has got a decent record in covering handicaps, surprisingly, and he looks another to consider at 1.90 today.
Richard Gasquet can go well here this week, but I can’t be getting involved in a Denis Istomin match and the Gasman looks a little short, however I will say that Istomin has never even won a set here in three tries and leave it at that.
Jack Sock looks a tad short too against Pablo Andujar and although the American will probably win I don’t like the 1.36 on Sock, with the Spaniard showing some decent form in Valencia last week.
But I’ll stick with Benny on a trappy-looking day one in Bercy.
Back Benneteau –3.5 games to beat Lu at 2.02