It’s another big day in terms of the race for London on Wednesday, with plenty of contenders in action on day three of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
And there’s also the small matter of a Masters 1000 title to play for as the season draws towards a close for many at the Palais Omnisports in Bercy.
Tuesday was a day to forget, as I chose the wrong wager to oppose Ivo Karlovic with in one and lost a tight one in the other.
Gilles Simon was error-ridden in his three set loss to Fernando Verdasco, while my idea of siding with Lucas Pouille was the right one, but the Frenchman cut down Karlovic far too quickly for my set one overs wager and I paid the price for not being bolder.
Simon was moaning about not being able to control the Head balls and reportedly wants them removed from the list of approved balls. That may explain why his backhand was all over the shop against Verdasco.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Jurgen Melzer
The Frenchman won this title back in 2008 and was a finalist three years later and with the Davis Cup final on the horizon I do not doubt his commitment here, but I do question his fitness.
The big man hasn’t played a competitive match since an injury-affected defeat to Michal Przysiezny at the end of September and the problem is reportedly tendonitis in the forearm.
That doesn’t sound particularly good for Tsonga fans and despite his excellent record against Melzer he can’t be a safe bet at a price of around 1.20.
Rustiness is an obvious issue and how much will he want to risk his fitness ahead of the DC final in a few weeks’ time?
Add to that the fact that Melzer actually played a very decent match here in round one against Guillermo Garcia Lopez and you have some of the factors in a potential upset here.
In theory Melzer’s lefty forehand should test out Jo’s questionable backhand and the Austrian did take a fit Tsonga to five sets at Wimbledon in the summer, so he should at least be able to test the Frenchman here.
Melzer needs the ranking points to be sure of a spot in Melbourne in January and has said he’ll quit if he’s not top-100 at the end of next year, so he should be very keen to do well here playing on a protected ranking.
The set one overs looks good, as does the +1.5 sets on the Austrian or the set to Melzer at 3.40.
Sam Querrey vs Feliciano Lopez
The price on Querrey looks a little short here at 1.59 given that the American pulled out of the doubles citing an elbow injury and he’s played rather a lot of tennis lately.
Querrey has played 20 matches since the US Open and won the lot, but the vast majority were Challengers and it shouldn’t make Big Sam such a favourite to win what looks to me more like a 50/50 contest.
Lopez has played only nine matches since New York and, as is the norm with the Spaniard, he flopped after doing very well in a big tournament – on this occasion the Shanghai Masters where he made the semis.
Predictably poor showings in Vienna and Valencia followed, but he should be rested enough now to take down Querrey, against whom Lopez has won five of their seven prior meetings.
Surprisingly, in the last 14 sets they’ve contested against each other there have been just two tie breaks, so the overs doesn’t appeal here, but 2.28 about Lopez seems worth the risk – especially with Sam clearly not fully fit.
Elsewhere, Gael Monfils’s fitness is anyone’s guess, after the Frenchman seemed fine yesterday following his statement that he might not play singles at all here this week.
If he is fit then he should beat John Isner in these slow conditions, while the price on Fabio Fognini shows how little effort he’s put in over the last few months of the season.
No one would be surprised if he lost to Pouille today and he’s barely the favourite for a clash in which the Frenchman is certain to be the more motivated.
The race to London sees David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Andy Murray, and Grigor Dimitrov all trying to strengthen their positions and Raonic and Murray could struggle.
Dimitrov too looks plenty short enough after looking leggy last week in Basel and new dad Pablo Cuevas is worth a look at a tasty 5.10 in these slow conditions.
I’m not sure that Grigor will have the fitness and fight for a lengthy battle at the moment and it’s worth a punt at a very big price on the Uruguayan, who is obviously in great spirits right now and will enjoy the surface here.
The +1.5 sets on Cuevas at 2.55 or the 5.10 about him causing the shock look the best bets for underdog backers today.
Back Melzer +1.5 sets to beat Tsonga at 2.10
Back Lopez to beat Querrey at 2.28
Back Cuevas to beat Dimitrov at 5.10