Round two matches commence in our three ATP World Tour tournaments in week 30 on Wednesday, with 17 matches scheduled in Gstaad, Hamburg and Atlanta.
Hamburg’s retractable roof came into its own again on Tuesday, with several matches in the German Tennis Championships being played indoors, while many others were often interrupted by heavy rain.
We didn’t get any joy in Gstaad with Mikhail Youzhny, who was dire again in a tame loss to Pablo Carreno-Busta, while Andreas Haider-Maurer is yet to complete his match with Jiri Vesely due to the rain. That one is currently one set all.
‘Sure thing’ Sam Groth got us back on track in that particular wager when the Aussie defeated Francis Tiafoe in straight sets.
In last year’s round two in Hamburg we saw seven underdog winners from 15 matches, with Filip Krajinovic’s thrashing of Fabio Fognini the pick of the prices at 5.23.
Over in Gstaad there were only two narrow underdog winners from their eight second round matches, while in Atlanta the records show that four of their eight round two matches provided odds-against winners.
Thiemo De Bakker was the best of them at 4.26 over Kevin Anderson, while Dudi Sela’s victory over Sam Querrey was also a good one.
Juan Monaco vs Lucas Pouille
A win over the hapless Ernests Gulbis on Tuesday in three sets hasn’t done much to convince me about the condition of Monaco’s wrist that has been such a problem for him of late and he looks worth taking on here.
If you are backing Monaco at 1.28 it seems a very risky play given his condition and Pouille has been in good enough form on the clay lately to warrant the Frenchman standing half a chance in this 12:30 UK time start in Hamburg.
Monaco has lost seven times in his career on clay as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite and with an on going wrist issue it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Pico didn’t last the distance in this one.
The layers have probably calculated the price based on Monaco’s easy win over Pouille at the French Open, but that was a year ago when the Frenchman was 190 in the world and he’s 100 spots higher now.
Pico was broken six times by Gulbis, who created 15 break opportunities on Tuesday, which doesn’t suggest that the Argentine is serving well at the moment and Pouille, who has already beaten Carlos Berlocq and Renzo Olivo from Argentina this week, is capable of making it a hat-trick here.
Gilles Muller vs Jared Donaldson
Muller started the Atlanta tournament really well with a convincing win over Donald Young and it was his return of serve that caught the eye, rather than his usual excellent lefty serve.
Not normally thought of as a good returner Muller broke Young five times and created seven other chances and he should only need one or two breaks to see off Donaldson in this 19:00 approx. UK time match today.
Donaldson defeated Somdev Devvarman on Wednesday, but he did take a MTO for a right knee problem in the process of that three set win over the defensive Indian.
The 18-year-old has played four matches to reach this stage, but the power and experience of Muller should consign the American to another loss against a big server.
Donaldson has a 0-4 record so far against my big servers and is yet to win a set against Sam Querrey (twice), John Isner, and Groth and he’s tended to fade in set two after a bright start in most of those matches.
He’s yet to beat a top-100 lefty on tour and in total he’s 2-9 against the top-100, with wins coming against Tim Smyczek and Hyeon Chung.
Muller hasn’t lost to an opponent under the age of 21 since Jerzy Janowicz in 2010, and he’s won his last 18 in a row against them.
An alternative ‘sure thing’ today is Thomaz Bellucci against Stephane Robert in Gstaad, but he is a little on the short side at 1.15.
Santi Giraldo has a good record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite, but the one time I trusted him at that price he lost on clay to Matteo Donati, so you take your chances with him today against Marsel Ilhan, who had a great win over Andrey Kuznetsov yesterday.
Marcos Baghdatis vs Sam Groth
As happy as I was to take Groth to beat the inexperienced Tiafoe yesterday I’m equally as confident almost that Baggy will get the better of the Aussie in this 21:00 UK time clash tonight.
It is their first meeting on the tour, but Baghdatis has a good record against big servers and if he serves well himself – often an issue with the Cypriot’s game – he should emerge the winner of this one at a price of around 1.62.
Baghdatis has won seven of his last nine against the big servers on my list, including two against Ivo Karlovic, with one of the two losses coming by way of retirement and the other a 5-7 final set loss against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Now that he has one match under his belt here in Atlanta he should be up to speed with the conditions and heat isn’t usually an issue for Baghdatis, who has performed well in it in the past.
Groth didn’t exactly impress against Tiafoe and Baghdatis is far less likely to get frustrated if Groth wallops plenty of aces past him.
Other options for value bets today include Dusan Lajovic, who seems quite generously priced against defending champ Pablo Andujar in Gstaad, and Diego Sebastian Schwartzman against Pablo Cuevas in Hamburg.
Fabio Fognini has a perfect 6-0 record over Albert Ramos and hopefully for the sake of my outright on Fogna will continue that run today, while Yen-Hsun Lu also has a decent chance as underdog against Vasek Pospisil.
Sure thing: Back Muller to beat Donaldson at 1.30
Value bet: Back Baghdatis to beat Groth at 1.62
Long shot: Back Pouille to beat Monaco at 3.60