The action continues on week six of the 2016 ATP World Tour on Wednesday, with round one and two matches to be contested in Rotterdam, Buenos Aires and Memphis.
Of the several ‘value bets’ I highlighted yesterday there were odds-against wins for Marcos Baghdatis, Renzo Olivo, Martin Klizan and Federico Delbonis, and a win for Gael Monfils, but Juan Monaco produced a surprisingly good performance on his return, and Andreas Seppi lost in a decider.
We have eight matches on the card in Rotterdam on Wednesday, plus four in Buenos Aires and in Memphis.
Gilles Simon vs Robin Haase
Last week my outright bet of Joao Sousa was beaten as a ‘sure thing’ in round one by Ruben Bemelmans in Montpellier and hopefully the same fate won’t befall Simon, who faces home hope Haase at 18:30 UK time in Rotterdam.
Haase, like fellow Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker before him, struggles to play his best tennis in this event, and Haase currently holds a 3-7 record with no wins here since back in 2008 – the year he defeated Andy Murray.
And 2008 was the last time that he tasted success against Simon too, with the Frenchman having won all of the last eight sets they’ve contested since Haase’s win over him in Zagreb 2008.
Simon was stunned by the all out attack of Dustin Brown on a fairly lively surface in Montpellier last week, but he does much better here in Rotterdam, where he’s made the semi finals in his last two appearances at the Ahoy Stadium.
On indoor hard as a 1.30 or shorter favourite Simon has a 22-3 record, with that loss to Brown last week being one, and the other two were in 2011 to Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Benoit Paire.
There’s not a lot going for Haase in this one and Simon, unless he has a poor day, should reward short-priced backers today.
Other options include Sam Querrey, who should have too much for Henri Laaksonen in Memphis, and Dominic Thiem, who will surely beat the lightweight Gastao Elias on the clay in Buenos Aires.
Marin Cilic vs Gilles Muller
The former US Open champion should be eyeing up the title in Rotterdam this week, with a very weak draw for an ATP 500 the result of the tournament putting all their eggs in one basket with Roger Federer.
Default top seed Richard Gasquet predictably didn’t start after his winning week in Montpellier last week and Cilic should be fancying adding a first ATP 500 crown to his CV.
He’ll need to perform better in this first career meeting with Muller than he did against Denis Istomin, where his forehand once again looked very shaky, but the Croat handles big servers and lefties well as a rule.
Cilic has won 74 percent of his main level matches against lefties, compared to 63 percent against righties, and he’s lost only three of his last 28 versus left-handers.
The world number 13 has won 13 of his last 15 matches against the big servers on my list and the slow conditions in Rotterdam, and indoors generally these days, don’t favour the net rushers such as Muller.
The Luxembourger has won only 25 percent of his matches against top-15 ranked opponents and I’d have Cilic a little bit shorter than 1.53 here.
There are a few around that sort of price today that appeal, with Philipp Kohlschreiber being one and also the over 9.5 games in set one of Vasek Pospisil vs Alexander Zverev, with that one likely to be serve dominated.
Leonardo Mayer vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
I was happy to take Mayer on to some degree with Guido Pella in round one, but now that the Argentine has a match under his belt on the clay of Buenos Aires he has a decent chance of making this tough for Tsonga.
The Frenchman hasn’t played a tournament on clay in South America at any level in his career until this week and he has a losing record on the red dirt as a 1.50 to 1.60 favourite, which is his price range today in this midnight UK time start.
It’s a first meeting between the pair and it should be a big-serving, big-hitting affair in what will be cooler conditions at 21:00 local time.
The slower conditions at night should favour Mayer, who doesn’t like to be rushed on his ground strokes and he has more than enough power off both wings to trouble Big Jo here.
Mayer should be in a nice groove after three sets in round one and playing at home with the vociferous Argentine crowd behind him this looks a tough first match for Tsonga, whose last match on clay was the French Open of 2015.
I like the +2.5 about Mayer here and to make it a ‘long shot’ double the options include siding with Andrey Kuznetsov to trouble Viktor Troicki or take the overs in John Isner’s opener against Dusan Lajovic.
Kuznetsov has the power to make life tricky for what will likely be a fatigued Troicki, with the Serb having played 36 sets already in 2016 compared to the 23 of Kuznetsov.
The Russian can certainly win a forehand battle with the Serbian and coming into this at a career high in the rankings after a fine start to the year he should be confident in this 14:00 UK time start in Rotterdam.
Troicki has lost four of his last seven in the 1.50 to 1.70 price range and the +1.5 sets on Kuznetsov doubled with Mayer +2.5 makes a 3.10 multiple.
Sure thing: Back Simon to beat Haase at 1.24
Value bet: Back Cilic to beat Muller at 1.53
Long shot: Back Mayer +2.5 games and Kuznetsov +1.5 sets at 3.10