The Masters 1000 tennis continues in America’s mid-west on Wednesday, with 10 matches scheduled for today at the Western & Southern Open.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray make their tournaments debuts today after contesting the Montreal final on Sunday and it was a good day for us on Tuesday, with all three wagers winning.
Feliciano Lopez was the star for us yesterday, with a win for the Spaniard in set one at 3.0 and overall, as he defeated a below par Milos Raonic in two.
We got rather lucky with the second winner when Kevin Anderson covered the handicap thanks to a 6-1 final set success over Leo Mayer, while Ivo Karlovic rewarded ‘sure thing’ backers and -2.5 games backers when he beat Martin Klizan.
The second round completes today, with the remaining 10 matches on the card in Mason, Ohio, but the weather forecast looks grim, with thunder showers expected all day, along with very high humidity.
Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are all short-prices today, as expected, but for a long shot today it’s worth taking one of them on.
Novak Djokovic vs Benoit Paire
Usually, I’d opt for Nadal to take on, but I’m not sure that Jeremy Chardy has the consistency and he’s rather short in price at 4.30 after his recent good form to be any value today.
The Frenchman also had a MTO yesterday and he may be feeling it after a tough week in Montreal, so instead I’m siding with Paire to trouble another player who had a tough week in Canada.
Djokovic didn’t look anywhere near his best last week and seemed to be struggling badly in the heat on Sunday, so with it set to be stifling again today it’s worth a look at the in-form Paire.
The world number one has never won this tournament and he won’t this week unless he improves on much of what we saw last week, which was well down on the level we’re used to seeing from the Serb.
So, he could be vulnerable in his first match in Cincy against Paire, who will either fancy it or he won’t.
The Frenchman has been playing some fine tennis lately and took advantage of his lucky loser spot to beat Gilles Muller in two breakers in round one.
Djokovic has only won two of his last six matches in Cincy in straight sets and he lost in round two to Tommy Robredo last year, so this is one Masters 1000 where he is vulnerable.
The 4.50 about Paire +1.5 sets looks a decent long shot today.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Jared Donaldson
It’s a rare old day when I lump Janowicz into the ‘sure thing’ category, but the Pole should be too much for young wild card Donaldson to handle in this 16:00 UK time start.
I expected Nicolas Mahut to beat Donaldson in round one, but the weather came to the American’s rescue, with Mahut bemoaning the change in conditions from dry to damp when asked about his defeat.
This should be quite an entertaining encounter, with both players adopting an aggressive approach, but Janowicz is determined this week, with plenty of ranking points to defend after making the Winston-Salem final last year.
The Pole is in an open section of the draw after Kei Nishikori withdrew and there’s 180 points on offer here for a quarter final spot, which is not beyond him.
Much will depend on serve, with JJ needing to cut out the double faults, but after beating an admittedly lacklustre Gael Monfils in round one Janowicz should be too much for the 18-year-old today.
Janowicz has won five of his last six as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite and at 1.37 he looks the best option on Wednesday.
The other short-priced options look sketchy, with Richard Gasquet too short and perhaps Stan Wawrinka is the best of the rest, but he is a tad short after retiring injured last week, with Murray 2-0 over part-timer Mardy Fish also probable.
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Richard Gasquet
Gasquet faces the second of the two Aussie headline-makers on Wednesday after disposing of a clearly hampered (either physically or mentally) Nick Kyrgios on Tuesday.
Kyrgios, yet again, was in no physical state to compete and was reduced to coming to the net by the end and easily passed by Gasquet, who took a very easy win indeed.
But simple 2-0 wins have been rare for Gasquet at this tournament over the years, with only three 2-0 wins before yesterday in 14 matches at the Western & Southern Open.
And Kokky appears to have been rather underrated by the layers here at a price of 4.40, with Gasquet a very skinny 1.20 shot today in his first meeting with the durable and determined young Aussie.
As I said earlier, it will be very humid today and I have major doubts over the delicate Frenchman in these conditions, which may well explain his poor record in Cincy.
Hopefully the Aussie won’t be too tired after three tough three setters, as he does perform well often on the big stage with the pressure on his opponent.
The 2.14 about Kokkinakis winning a set seems a pretty decent value bet to me, with the Gasman looking a fair bit too short in price in a first meeting in likely tough conditions.
Sure thing: Back Janowicz to beat Donaldson at 1.37
Value bet: Back Kokkinakis +1.5 sets to beat Gasquet at 2.14
Long shot: Back Paire +1.5 sets to beat Djokovic at 4.50