The last-16 men in contention for the title of Winston-Salem Open champion 2014 are in action in North Carolina today, as this week’s ATP 250 event continues.
Tuesday got off to a fine start when Nicolas Mahut ran away with the opening set against Tommy Robredo to land the +1.5 sets wager in that match.
In the end Mahut didn’t need the start, as Robredo never looked like making it overly competitive and he didn’t manage a single point in the second set tie breaker in the kind of lacklustre performance I had expected.
What I hadn’t bargained for was a similarly feeble showing from Steve Johnson, who barely won another game from *4-3 ahead in the opening set against his pal Sam Querrey.
It was a real pre-major effort from Johnson and while I expected it of Robredo, who will be looking to defend quarter final points in New York I’m not so sure about Johnson.
There was the usual drama as well in the Jerzy Janowicz match when the crazy Pole and Joao Sousa got into it over a call in a typically weird JJ clash that ended up in a final set breaker.
Today’s favourite to avoid looks to be Lukas Rosol, who, similarly to Robredo has a poor record the week ahead of majors.
The Czech is lucky – or perhaps unlucky – to be at this stage of the tournament at all after his first round opponent Ryan Harrison retired when ahead in their match last night.
Rosol was poor against Harrison and if he beats Pablo Andujar today it will be first time he’s been past the second round a week before a grand slam, which might make Andujar a decent shout if it weren’t for the fact that the Spaniard’s record on fast courts is so bad.
I’m very tempted to take Janowicz on in the 17:00 UK time start today, as he looks short against the capable Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but JJ is so unpredictable that anything could happen in that one.
I don’t particularly care for ERV against big servers and he’s lost eight of the last nine against such opposition and twice to Janowicz, hence the prices, but I couldn’t touch Jerzy at 1.52.
David Goffin is again too short, but couldn’t really be opposed with the form that he’s in at the moment, so my shortlist today has Donald Young, Kevin Anderson, Mahut and Lu on it.
I’m on Young outright, so I’ll let that ride against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez rather than backing him today, while I just feel that Anderson might have more of a match on his hands than his price of 1.63 suggests.
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Yen Hsun Lu vs Marcel Granollers
Lu is no stranger to putting a shift in ahead of a major, having reached the final of Auckland the week before the Australian Open this year and he faces an opponent here who he defeated a fortnight ago in Toronto.
The Chinese Taipei player has been in solid form of late, beating the likes of Tomas Berdych on hard courts and he was very close to a seeded spot at the US Open this time around.
Granollers on the other hand lost in the first round of all three of his pre-slam tournaments this season and he has just a 33 percent winning mark against top-40 ranked opposition on outdoor hard in his career.
It’s not a fabulous price, but he looks a solid pick at 1.51 today.
Nicolas Mahut vs Andreas Seppi
Perhaps a bit more value lies in this one, with conditions here suiting the attacking game of Mahut, who can take advantage of a Seppi in a slump and playing his worst section of the tour calendar.
Mahut will be full of confidence after that Robredo win and he also took down Seppi in their only career meeting on quickish indoor hard in Metz at the end of last season, which will add to the Frenchman’s belief.
Seppi has a decent pre-slam record, but a poor one on the North American hard court summer swing, with a 2-5 record in Canada, 5-7 in Cincy, 5-10 in New York and 0-1 here before edging past Federico Delbonis yesterday.
The Italian hasn’t won two straight matches on an outdoor hard court since making round three of the US Open last year – 10 tournaments ago – and a scratchy win over Delbonis, who is poor on hard courts is indicative of Seppi’s confidence level right now.
Down at number 48 in the rankings after being 23 this time last year he’s not in a good place and if Mahut is of a mind to he can exploit that today.
I’m also tempted to back over 22.5 total games in Isner’s match with Mikhail Kukushkin tonight for obvious statistical reasons of it being Isner and it’s rare that he finishes in fewer games than that against decent opposition.
Back Lu to beat Granollers at 1.51
Back Mahut to beat Seppi at 2.28