Tuesday at the Monte-Carlo Masters features the remainder of the first round and start of the second round, as the big guns make their first appearances of the week in Monaco.
A right leg injury to Jarkko Nieminen hampered our progress on day one at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, as the Finn limped to defeat against Albert Ramos.
A lacklustre effort from the Finn, who shortened considerably in the betting from 2.55 to 1.98 before the off, could in a fairly substantial way be attributed to his right thigh that warranted attention from the trainer against Albert Ramos on Monday.
The Finn clearly wasn’t happy and kept shaking his leg out throughout the match and Ramos didn’t have to do a great deal more than keep the rallies going to take the win in two disappointing sets. Nieminen later revealed that he injured his leg in the second game of the match and was trying to shorten the points as a consequence.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.43, Philipp Kohlschreiber 2.70
Another day on the tour and another chance to take a too-short-priced Tsonga on and this time he’s a 1.40 shot against Kohlschreiber, who has a decent 14-8 career record here.
Jo will be very keen to defend the 360 ranking points that he gained by making the semi finals here last year, but last year he was coming off the back of an inspired Davis Cup performance on the clay in Argentina and he doesn’t have that clay practice to call upon this time around.
Tsonga’s last three outings have resulted in poor losses to Julien Benneteau at Indian Wells, Andy Murray in Miami and Peter Gojowczyk in Davis Cup, although he did improve markedly in destructing Tobias Kamke in the reverse singles there.
The big man has dished up some dire tennis this season and perhaps a return to the red dirt on home soil or thereabouts will inspire him, as it has done in the past.
Kohlschreiber for his part did all he needed to on Monday against wild card Simone Bolelli and didn’t face a break point against the Italian. Likewise, I expect Tsonga’s poor return game to mean he may also struggle to break the German.
The world number 25 has had his chances against Jo before and rarely taken them, leading to a 1-6 head-to-head that puts me off the outright win bet, but the first set markets and handicap markets are of interest.
The 2.5 about Kohlschreiber winning set one appeals, as does the +1.5 sets at around 1.72.
Gael Monfils 1.48, Kevin Anderson 2.60
Lamonf doesn’t have a great record in this tournament, with just three wins from his 10 matches in the main draw here, but he has a good opportunity to improve that when he takes on Anderson today.
The Frenchman withdrew from Casablanca last week after a slip caused an ankle problem, but the week off after his brief participation in Davis Cup will have done him good and he faces an opponent today who was poor in Morocco.
Anderson was taken down by Victor Hanescu in straight sets and that’s not a good start to your clay swing and Kevin will do well to back up his more than decent results from this time last year.
An opponent like Monfils, who can defend or attack at will and who moves much better than him should be a recipe for defeat for Anderson, as has proved the case in their two career meetings thus far and if Gael is fit he should cover a minus 2.5 game handicap here at 1.83.
Elsewhere, Grigor Dimitrov should be able to play on likely fatigue from Marcel Granollers, while Nico Almagro and Fernando Verdasco may struggle with the quick turnaround after playing the Houston final on Sunday.
Verdasco is already claiming injury, while Almagro is perhaps fortunate to face Paulo Mathieu, who has a really poor record of two wins from 10 matches in Monaco.
Julien Benneteau should be able to take advantage of likely rustiness from Jurgen Melzer, who hasn’t played singles since last season, but Benny, like Mathieu, traditionally doesn’t do well here, with a 5-10 record overall.
Novak Djokovic has Boris Becker back in his camp, but despite that hindrance, the Serb should be too fresh for Albert Montanes, who’s played 12 sets in five days in Casablanca and here.
I just have a sneaking feeling that Tomas Berdych may struggle to cover a minus 5.5 game handicap against Dmitry Tursunov, who won his first ever match here against Robin Haase on Sunday.
Berdych has a great record against the Russian, but he only covered such a handicap three times in 10 matches on the clay in the clay swing last year and having not played since Miami that handicap looks coverable for Tursunov.
Back Kohlschreiber +1.5 sets to beat Tsonga at 1.72
Back Monfils –2.5 games to beat Anderson at 1.83