Round one and two action is the order of the day on Wednesday in this week’s three ATP World Tour tournaments in Rio de Janeiro, Marseille and Delray Beach.
We got off to a good start with our bets on Tuesday when Sergiy Stakhovsky took the opening set from Feli Lopez at the Open 13 to land our +1.5 sets wager and indeed the Ukrainian went on to win the match in a final set tie break.
Next, Teymuraz Gabashvili secured the first half of our ‘long shot’ double when he forced Gilles Simon to a deciding set in Marseille, and like Stakhovsky the underdog ended up winning in a deciding set breaker.
The ‘sure thing’ also won when Nick Kyrgios and Vasek Pospisil went to 10 games in their opening set in Marseille, but the second half of the Gabashvili double failed when Julien Benneteau injured his calf and couldn’t move right at the point when he had break points to serve for the second set against Alexander Zverev.
Alexandr Dolgopolov did land the second half of Monday’s ‘long shot’ double in his delayed Rio clash with Thomaz Bellucci, so it was a decent day overall.
We have 14 matches on the schedule on Wednesday, which is a little easier to manage than yesterday’s 35, and I’ll start with today’s sure thing.
Fabio Fognini vs Daniel Gimeno-Traver
I’m not totally convinced by any means of the solidity as favourites of the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic in Marseille and I’d rather put some faith in the mercurial talents of Fognini today.
Similarly to Fogna’s round one match in Rio where he inflicted yet another defeat upon Aljaz Bedene the Italian faces another opponent that he’s very much had the upper hand against over the years.
Fognini has won six of his seven matches against DGT, who can consider himself a tad fortunate to be here in round two after his last pair of opponents retired injured.
Paul-Henri Mathieu and Juan Monaco were the players concerned and after a terrible run of form the Spaniard finds himself in the last-16 at main level for only the second time since Istanbul last April.
The last time that Gimeno-Traver won back-to-back matches that didn’t involve retirements was in qualies for Madrid last May and since then he’s gone 5-24 up until this week.
Fognini has final points to defend from last year here and it would be a poor way to drop a lot of rankings points if he were to go down to DGT in this 18:00 UK time clash today.
Santiago Giraldo vs Guido Pella
I think there’s a little bit of value in siding with the underdog in this 22:00 UK time clash in Rio, with leftie Pella likely to cause stuttering Colombian Giraldo more than a few problems.
Giraldo has a poor record against lefties, winning only three of his last 13 matches against left-handers – and two of those wins were against Donald Young.
And it’s not as if he’s been playing Rafa Nadal regularly either, with losses to Vincent Millot, Austin Krajicek, Kenny De Schepper, and Alejandro Falla amongst that list of defeats.
Seven of those defeats came against opponents who, at the time, were ranked outside the top-100 and the only top-25 opponent was Feli Lopez in that poor run.
And recent form has been a big worry for Giraldo, who has slipped down to number 83 in the world from rank 28 in September of 2014 and the last time that he won two matches in a row at tour level was last July in Gstaad.
Pella might be a bit tired after that epic win over John Isner in round one here, but he has had a day off since, and he’s been winning matches, with nine victories in his last 14, so confidence should be high.
Giraldo looks a dodgy favourite to me and I’m happy to take Pella at evens.
Dominic Thiem vs Diego Schwartzman
Diminutive Argentine Schwartzman may well prove to be worth taking as a big underdog on Wednesday, with the hot and humid conditions in Rio sapping the strength of the players at the moment.
Thiem had an incredibly tough week last week in Buenos Aires in very similar conditions and he admitted after yesterday’s win over Pablo Andujar that: “It's extremely hot and the efforts I put in over the last days were noticeable.”
The young Austrian is undoubtedly playing some fine tennis this season and he was excellent last week, but how much does he have left in this trying heat and humidity in South America?
Schwartzman played the role of villain yesterday by defeating Joao Souza, who made the last eight here a year ago, and he’s played only five completed matches in 2016, so his (admittedly small) tank should be on the full side.
The Argentine defeated Dolgopolov in Buenos Aires last week, so he’s not been in poor form and he made Thiem work very hard in their only prior career meeting, which was on hard courts in Miami a year ago.
He lost 7-6, 7-5 that day and conditions here on the clay should suit him much better, which makes Schwartzman one to consider at the 4.0 mark.
I also have a sneaking regard for the chances of Sergiy Stakhovsky in Marseille as a 4.20 chance, but we had a bit of luck with him yesterday in a final set tie break and perhaps the +1.5 sets at 2.07 would be a better option.
Stakho did beat Stan here in Marseille a year ago and this looks a tricky first match at the Open 13 for Wawrinka.
Albert Ramos could also cause some problems for David Ferrer in their 20:30 UK time clash in Rio, with Ferrer less than convincing yesterday and the handicap options on Ramos might work there.
Sure thing: Back Fognini to beat Gimeno-Traver at 1.23
Value bet: Back Pella to beat Giraldo at 2.0
Long shot: Back Schwartzman to beat Thiem at 4.0