Conditions were tough for the players on day two of the 2014 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday, with high humidity and strong winds making life difficult.
My opening bet of the day owed a little to good fortune, as Vasek Pospisil saved several match points – one thanks to a net cord – to get into a final set breaker with Radek Stepanek, which he won.
But that slice of luck was levelled out in a big way later on when Julien Benneteau failed to cover the handicap from match point up against Blaz Rola.
Benny blew a host of set points to lose the opening set on a breaker, before getting to match point at 5-4, 40-30 on his own serve, but proceeded to cough up not one, but two straight double faults.
The flaky Frenchman did go on and win the match, but the handicap bet was gone thanks to another rather epic choke from Benny.
Philipp Kohlschreiber vs David Ferrer
We enjoyed a very comfortable winner last week in Toronto with Ivan Dodig +1.5 sets against Ferrer and there’s no reason at all why Kohlschreiber can’t do a similar thing against the Spaniard today.
Ferrer has never found conditions at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre to his liking and one presumes that’s due to the quick conditions that allow opponents to rush him and Kohlschreiber can take advantage here.
David has been coming here since 2004 and only twice has he made the quarter finals – the last occasion being way back in 2007 – and he’s never progressed beyond the last eight.
I was happy to go against the German the other day, due to his lack of hard court matches, but that three setter against Jeremy Chardy should have him in better order and he has caused problems for Ferrer in the past.
As one would expect, Ferrer has had the better of their career series, with seven wins to three, but Kohlschreiber has been competitive in their hard court matches and Ferrer has looked far from his best since the French Open.
Dodig should have beaten him last week and it will be disappointing if Kohlschreiber doesn’t at least grab a set today at around 1.64.
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Roger Federer vs Vasek Pospisil
Conditions were tough yesterday for servers in the wind, but it should drop today and Federer will need a big improvement on his dismal showing in the Toronto final to justify his price here.
The Swiss has never found it easy against Pospisil in the past and the Canadian will enjoy the calmer conditions today and especially now he has a win under his belt here.
Federer has a fine record here in Cincy and it perhaps wouldn’t be wise to oppose him too much, as he will surely show a better level today than against Tsonga, but the various handicaps and side markets on Pospisil appeal.
Fed didn’t even manage to create a break point against Tsonga in Toronto and the first match is rarely easy at a new venue, even for someone like Federer.
The first set over 9.5 games at 1.73 appeals in this one, as does the +4.5 games on the Canadian at 1.76 and the over 21.5 total games at 1.89.
Elsewhere, Benneteau faces James Ward and looks much too short against the Brit, although I expect Benny will fall over the line in the end.
Steve Johnson has a shot against Ernests Gulbis, who was all kinds of irritable yesterday against Dodig, while I was so tempted to back Fabio Fognini against Lleyton Hewitt, but like with Benoit Paire yesterday I can’t trust him as a favourite.
Back Kohlschreiber +1.5 sets to beat Ferrer at 1.64
Back Pospisil +4.5 games to beat Federer at 1.76