Round two of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is on the agenda on Saturday, with 16 matches in-play today.
The first round was one of the toughest to call that I can bring to mind of recent times, making what is usually a tricky tournament anyway altogether harder for punters.
We managed to get Alexandr Dolgopolov over the line reasonably comfortably on Friday, while those who took my headline advice of going against Mikhail Youzhny would have enjoyed a nice odds-against success too with Victor Hanescu.
But there was a narrow loss for Victor Estrella Burgos and Alex Bolt was unable to make the most of his opportunities to take a set from Robin Haase, which was frustrating.
The second round kicks off at 18:00 UK time and this stage of the tournament a year ago yielded nine good-priced underdog winners, with Roberto Bautista-Agut beating Tomas Berdych and Alejandro Gonzalez taking down Ivan Dodig being the best prices.
Today’s card sees a few opportunities to side with big underdogs, with Ryan Harrison and Dodig being two in with a shout.
Ivan Dodig vs David Ferrer
Ferrer simply does not do well at Indian Wells and for me there are a few reasons for this.
One is that he often comes here straight from either a busy schedule or straight from the clay and another is that he clearly prefers Miami next week, where his results are far better than those at Indian Wells.
Another is that the high bounce here doesn’t tend to suit shorter players, with only Marcelo Rios in the last 16 years bucking the trend of winners over the height of 5’10”.
Ferrer has won only one match in the last five years at Indian Wells and he will need some time out after a punishing back-to-back title success in Rio and Acapulco.
If I were Ferrer I’d be focusing on Miami, where he made the final in 2013 and quarters the two years prior to that and today’s opponent has made him fight hard in the past.
Dodig has taken a set from Ferrer in all three of their career meetings and Dodig to win set one at 3.85 appeals as a long shot, as does the Croatian +1.5 sets at 2.40 and the outright win for the braver punter at 5.0.
As for ‘sure things’ today I would have a shortlist of Kevin Anderson and Fernando Verdasco, with Nishikori, Ferrer and Andy Murray all looking too short and a tad shaky.
Fernando Verdasco vs James Duckworth
As is perhaps fairly evident I don’t rate Duckworth at all and he is a tad fortunate to be here after some tight matches in qualies and a really poor showing from the disappointing Dominic Thiem in round one.
Verdasco has shown glimpses of his best form this season in spells, notably against Novak Djokovic in Melbourne and Roger Federer in Dubai, but he lacks the mental strength to keep it up against the top guys.
The Spaniard did well here last year and he does hold a winning career record at Indian Wells, making the last-16 again in 2014 before losing a tight one to John Isner.
Duckworth’s record against the top-50 reads 2-10, with that win over Thiem and one over Gilles Simon in Brisbane the only exceptions to his losing streak and the only top-100 ranked leftie he’s ever beaten is Jarkko Nieminen (who has beaten Ducky twice).
I’m never that comfortable labelling Verdasco as a ‘sure thing’, but he looks the best price of the options today at 1.31 and Nando has won 11 of his last 14 against players ranked outside the top-100, with the only exceptions being to Pablo Cuevas (who was falsely ranked at the time), a final set breaker loss to Dustin Brown and a similarly tight one to Thiemo de Bakker.
There are several ‘value bets’ to choose from today, with overs looking likely in the matches involving Ernests Gulbis and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Fabio Fognini vs Adrian Mannarino
It’s always a risk backing for or against the moody Italian, but to me there’s real value in siding with a 2-0 win for Mannarino in this 22:00 UK time clash on Stadium 3.
The Frenchman has been given a much-needed kick up the backside by new coach Eric Prodon since they began working together midway through last season and the results are starting to come.
At a career high ranking inside the top-40 at the moment Mannarino has put together some consistent results in 2015 and he should have too much for a most likely disinterested Fognini, who has won only one of his last 12 matches on a hard court.
Mannarino had never won a match at Indian Wells before this week, but he’s righted that now and his attitude should be altogether better than Fogna’s, with the Italian coming off a five set defeat that cost Italy the match in Davis Cup.
That loss in Astana to world number 130 Aleksandr Nedovyesov will have hurt and despite this hard court perhaps favouring him over others Mannarino can back up his straight sets win over Fognini from the US Open last summer.
Of those 11 losses on hard courts since last summer eight came in straight sets and there’s value in the 2.45 on 2-0 to Mannarino here.
Sure thing: Back Verdasco to beat Duckworth at 1.31
Value bet: Back Mannarino to beat Fognini 2-0 at 2.45
Long shot: Back Dodig to win set one vs Ferrer at 3.85