Day two at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells features the 16 remaining round one matches after a good day’s ATP tennis betting on the opening day.
Thursday’s wagers produced three correct selections from four and two winning wagers from three, with Albert Ramos the star of the show thanks to a three set win over Hyeon Chung at odds-against.
Andrey Kuznetsov delivered the goods for 'sure thing' backers, with a straight sets victory over Marco Trungelliti, while Federico Delbonis defeated Santi Giraldo at odds-against, but we were denied the clean sweep by a mediocre effort from Diego Schwartzman against Robin Haase.
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Daniel Munoz De La Nava
Regular Davis Cup hero Kukushkin leaves it all out there when playing for his country and often that can be at the expense of regular tour events, which may well be the case again here.
A year ago Kuku retired in round one at Indian Wells after winning two Davis Cup rubbers in singles against Italy and what sort of condition will he be in today after a five-hour marathon at the weekend against Novak Djokovic?
Kukushkin again excelled himself with a straight sets win over Viktor Troicki in the opening rubber of that away clash in Serbia and should have beaten Djokovic, but he tends to reserve that level for Davis Cup.
The Kazakh doesn’t have the best of records when it comes to injury, with 11 retirements or walkovers since the autumn of 2011 and one already this season in Delray Beach.
Often sporting tape all over his body on court I’d say that there’s a fair chance of a retirement here and Munoz De La Nava has a good opportunity to grab a first main draw win at Indian Wells.
He should certainly be the fresher of the two, having not played since February and he does have a win on hard courts over Feli Lopez on his record for the season so far.
Kuku has lost 11 of his last 15 matches against left-handers and for me there’s enough in this one to make Munoz De La Nava a viable long shot for Friday at 3.30.
John Millman vs Alexander Sarkissian
Perhaps Australia would have been better advised to select Millman instead of the desperately out of form Sam Groth for Davis Cup duty last week – certainly on all recent form he’d have been a better choice.
Millman has certainly been playing at a higher level than today’s opponent Sarkissian, who was walloped by Ryan Harrison in the Acapulco qualies last time out before qualifying here at Indian Wells.
In prior matches against the American the Aussie has been dominant of late, with two easy wins over Sarkissian in the space of a week on hard courts in the USA last summer.
It’ll be very windy at Indian Wells by the time this pair get out onto court according to the forecast, but it seems unlikely to be enough of a leveller for Sarkissian here.
It doesn’t look a particularly tempting day for short-priced shots on Friday, with Fernando Verdasco, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Vincent Millot hardly worthy of much faith and I’m not convinced about Gilles Muller either.
The wind may well make it a very tough day for serving and Muller’s record here in these slow conditions isn’t great, so he doesn’t appeal, although opponent Victor Estrella Burgos doesn’t inspire against big servers.
Given the choice of the aforementioned quintet I’m happy to side with the solid Millman as today’s ‘sure thing’, who defeated Sarkissian as a 1.2 chance last time they met.
Jared Donaldson vs Vasek Pospisil
On what looks a bit of a tricky day for value seekers one wager I do like is the set one overs in this 21:00 approx. UK time clash between the young American wild card and the injury-prone Canadian.
Yet again the dismal fitness of Pospisil let him down in warm conditions last week in Davis Cup, where he wilted in Guadeloupe against Gilles Simon, admitting after a straight sets loss that: “It was very tough conditions, very, very humid and I felt very depleted when you’re dehydrated.”
We’ve heard this so many times from Pospisil that it’s becoming almost a cliché that he can’t handle any sort of heat and how fit he’ll be today after Davis Cup is anyone’s guess.
The Canadian has never won a completed match in the main draw at Indian Wells in four tries and managed to grab a win last year when the aforementioned Kukushkin retired.
Humidity shouldn’t be a problem for Pospisil in the desert at least, but it will be a good 27C in the shade when he faces Donaldson so I wouldn’t trust him at 1.43 and furthermore he’s only won only three of his last 11 matches as a 1.50 favourite or shorter in straight sets.
But Donaldson has issues of his own – not least his record of 0-8 against the big servers in my database – and worryingly for him he’s lost seven of the eight tie breaks played in those matches.
Pospisil is rock bottom of the 72 players listed (behind John Isner) in the return games won category in 2016, with 5% of those games won, and a tie break seems likely here.
Eight of Pospisil’s last 10 opening sets have gone past 9.5 games and seven of Donaldson’s last eight sets against big servers have gone to at least 10 games, so 1.70 about set one overs seems the call here.
Donaldson should be very much up for this one after getting a little lucky with his wild card into the main draw and it should be a pretty close match, but with the young American’s record in tight situations I can’t trust him to get the win.
Sure thing: Back Millman to beat Sarkissian at 1.25
Value bet: Back over 9.5 games in set one of Pospisil/Donaldson at 1.70
Long shot: Back Munoz De La Nava to beat Kukushkin at 3.30