Round two action is the order of the day in Metz and St Petersburg on Thursday, with 13 matches on the schedule in this week’s two ATP 250 tournaments.
A dismal display from Thanasi Kokkinakis and a much-improved one than of late from Marcel Granollers made for a poor start to Wednesday on what does seem to be a bit of a lifeless playing surface in St Petersburg.
Kokky was terrible, but Radu Albot took the opener from Joao Sousa to reward +1.5 set backers in that one, however Andreas Haider-Maurer failed to nick the second set from Dominic Thiem on a tie break to land that particular +1.5 sets wager.
There was some relief later on though when the ‘sure thing’ wager on Nicolas Mahut was a comfortable winner in the Frenchman’s Metz clash with Federico Delbonis.
The second round in Metz in 2014 saw only one underdog winner from eight matches, which was Jan-Lennard Struff’s 2.59 success over Jeremy Chardy.
Options are seemingly plentiful for the ‘sure thing’ on Thursday, with Stan Wawrinka, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gilles Simon looking the most likely three in Metz and Milos Raonic looking probable in St Petersburg.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Paulo Lorenzi
The exertions of many of this week’s competitors in Davis Cup last weekend has made betting somewhat of a minefield in week 38, with all sorts of injuries and illnesses making life tough.
Benoit Paire didn’t play Davis Cup, but retired with a headache the other day, while Steve Darcis did and folded like a badly erected tent against the might of Lorenzi on Wednesday.
Darcis was entitled to be fatigued, but after easily winning set one the Belgian must have hit the wall, and the Italian took advantage, despite having taken some part in DC himself.
Today at around 15:00 UK time both of these Davis Cup competitors face off in Metz and despite his trip to the Dominican Republic Kohlschreiber seems the safest short-priced wager on Thursday.
The German has won both prior meetings with Lorenzi, including here in Metz last season and the Italian has managed a grand total of one win in his 16 matches on hard courts against top-35 ranked players.
That one win came against an injured Alexandr Dolgopolov at the Australian Open this January and Lorenzi has won sets in only three of those 15 matches lost versus the top-35 on hard.
And now that Kohlschreiber has a match under his belt here in Metz the 2-0 to the German looks the ‘sure thing’ for Thursday at a price of 1.25.
Fatigue is the worry here, but who isn’t it a concern for this week?
The other options have doubts about them, with form and confidence lacking for Simon, Raonic, and Tomas Berdych, while Wawrinka could possibly be stunned by big match player Dustin Brown.
Stan is only 2-5 on indoor hard as a 1.10 to 1.20 favourite, with losses to Sergiy Stakhovksy and Edouard Roger-Vasselin his last two starts indoors at that price, so he doesn’t seem too secure to me against someone like Brown.
Options are also plentiful for ‘long shot’ backers on Thursday, with chances for Brown, Benjamin Becker, Lucas Pouille, Teimuraz Gabashvili, and Simone Bolelli.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Lucas Pouille
Conditions at the new venue in St Petersburg appear to be medium-slow to me – perhaps a touch quicker than they used to be here – but far from quick and Janowicz looks much too short here.
JJ has hardly been in anything like decent form and was beaten by Martin Klizan in Davis Cup and taken to four by Norbert Gombos at the weekend too on top of a loss to Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open.
The Pole has made one quarter final since February and is into round two because Benoit Paire couldn’t be bothered in round one against him and laughably retired citing a ‘headache’.
Paire has certainly given punters plenty of those over the years, as has Janowicz, who looks worth taking on to some degree here against the talented Frenchman Pouille.
The 21-year-old has beaten Ivo Karlovic indoors in the past and he should be up for this after coming out on top in a real scrap against Ricardas Berankis in round one here.
Pouille’s schedule has been far lighter than JJ’s and the Pole may find his legs going a bit if this goes to three, with the +1.5 sets on Pouille at 1.83 looking good for one leg of a double.
The second leg comes down to a straight choice between Benjamin Becker + 1.5 sets against Denis Istomin or Simone Bolelli +4.5 games or +1.5 sets against Berdych.
Istomin is always tough to predict, but surely he’ll be feeling it after a lot of tennis on clay over the weekend in Davis Cup and three sets here yesterday.
The Uzbek played 12 sets on clay in singles and doubles against the USA and he’s played six sets in singles and doubles in St Petersburg already, so the 1.27 on him today looks so short.
It must be based on the head-to-head with Becker, but the German has taken at least one set in their last four meetings and he should be fresh after a virtual holiday in the Dominican Republic on DC duty.
Becker played only two sets in a dead rubber, so he should be much fresher and 1.88 about him taking a set here looks very good.
Other long shots include the 2-0 to Gabashvili, who will either blast Roberto Bautista-Agut off the court or lose, so the 5.0 about Gaba winning in straights appeals, but fatigue again is the concern with that one.
Nicolas Mahut vs Adrian Mannarino
This all-French affair in Metz at around 15:00 UK time looks like it holds a bit of value on Mahut, who has dominated the career series between the pair and who served very well against Delbonis last night.
Mannarino likes rhythm from his opponents in order to produce his shots and although he is effective on hard courts against the right opposition the kind of variety and all-court play that Mahut brings to the table tends to frustrate him.
The layers can’t split the pair, but for me Mahut should be favourite and in all six of their clashes (Mahut leads the series 5-1) the US Open doubles champion has won sets either 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 or 6-3 against Mannarino.
Should this one start to go away from Mannarino we may well see another one-sided set in favour of Mahut and the -1.5 games at odds-against looks very good value to me.
Sure thing: Back Kohlschreiber to beat Lorenzi 2-0 at 1.25
Value bet: Back Mahut -1.5 games to beat Mannarino at 2.05
Long shot: Back Pouille +1.5 sets and Becker +1.5 sets at 3.44