The third round of the Western and Southern Open is in-play on Thursday at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre in Mason, Ohio.
And hopefully there’ll be some better luck around than yesterday when we were burgled in my opening wager of the day when Thanasi Kokkinakis failed to win set one against Richard Gasquet despite leading *4-1 in the tie break.
Even ‘long shot’ Benoit Paire +1.5 backers were slightly unfortunate when the enigmatic Frenchman led Novak Djokovic by a break in set one of their clash before fading badly.
At least the ‘sure thing’ won when the slight chance we took on Jerzy Janowicz paid off when the Pole was a straight sets winner over Jared Donaldson, who had plenty of chances to take it to a decider.
Round three in Cincy a year ago saw two underdogs win from the eight matches and one was a big one, with Tommy Robredo taking down Novak Djokovic as a 7.65 shot.
Andy Murray vs Grigor Dimitrov
Plenty of options for short-priced punters on Thursday, with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Murray all appearing to be very likely to win and Murray is much the best of the prices.
This is largely due to the layers consistently overrating Dimitrov and 1.31 is a pretty decent price on Murray against a player who has failed to beat a top-20 opponent away from clay for over a year.
Dimitrov is almost always too short for a player with his pretty dismal record against the best and he is 1-13 on hard courts against the top five, with the sole success coming against David Ferrer on indoor hard in Stockholm in 2013.
So, he’s never beaten a top-five opponent on outdoor hard and his recent form suggests that it’s even less likely to happen now than ever, with only one quarter final away from clay to look back on this season.
That one was way back in week one in Brisbane and other than a decent spell on clay in the spring this season has been a poor one for the Bulgarian, who is now working with a member of the Good to Great team since splitting from Roger Rasheed.
Murray was far from his best in his opening round last night, but that’s to be expected to a degree in what were tricky conditions in an opening match of the week and I’d be surprised if he didn’t rise to the challenge posed by Dimitrov tonight.
Rafael Nadal vs Feliciano Lopez
Lopez won the last meeting between this pair of Spaniards, which was at the end of last season at Masters 1000 level on a quick hard court in Shanghai and he looks the most likely of the big-priced players today.
The head-to-head is, unsurprisingly, heavily in favour of Nadal at 9-3, but he’s nowhere near the player who won those nine matches and that Shanghai win for Lopez is the only occasion they’ve met since the start of 2012.
My hard court ratings actually have Lopez ranked higher than Nadal by a couple of spots and now that Feli has recovered his confidence with wins over Milos Raonic and Andreas Seppi he’s not without a chance in this midnight UK time clash.
Nadal was scratchy again versus Jeremy Chardy last night, with the scoreline flattering him a little and he can’t be relied on at short prices against an opponent with decent weapons, who should be suited by the conditions.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Jerzy Janowicz
Dolgo is very short for this 16:00 UK time clash with Janowicz and too short for me, but it is for good reason, with the Ukrainian having very few problems in nullifying the Janowicz game so far.
The pair met in Davis Cup on indoor hard a month ago when Dolgo won in straight sets and he’s now won all seven sets they’ve contested and only once has a set gone past 6-4.
The three meetings were on indoor hard, outdoor hard and clay and it appears to be fairly clear that this is a good match-up for Dolgo, who returns big serves well and has the speed around the court to mop up JJ’s frequent drop shots.
With the Ukrainian too short in the betting at 1.34 I like the under 23.5 games at 1.74 as a decent value wager.
The layers clearly think that Dolgo will win this one relatively comfortably, but are building in plenty of games for Janowicz’s big serve, but I think they’ve gone too far with 23.5 games.
Dolgo loves dismantling a big serve and has had few issues breaking JJ’s so far, plus the Pole served very well yesterday and what chance him avoiding double faults for two straight days? Quite unlikely I’d have thought.
Sure thing: Back Murray to beat Dimitrov at 1.31
Value bet: Back under 23.5 games in Janowicz/Dolgopolov at 1.74
Long shot: Back Lopez to beat Nadal at 3.60