Day two of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells sees the bottom half of the draw play their round one matches, with another 16 clashes set for Friday.
A very nervy start from Reilly Opelka on day one saw the set one overs wager fall by the wayside and on a typically tricky Indian Wells round one day Yen-Hsun Lu let a one set lead slip to go down in three to Vasek Pospisil.
Friday’s card looks equally, if not tougher, to call in match odds markets, but in one of the later matches on Stadium 6 we could have a bit of value.
Dudi Sela vs Stephane Robert
This price of 1.27 on Sela is a shocking offering from the layers, with the diminutive Israeli having failed to win a match at Indian Wells since 2012 (no top-100 wins since 2010) and only once in his 10 starts here has he won one in straight sets.
That came against (the equally short) Jesse Levine back in 2010 and the high bounce here surely doesn’t do Sela any favours.
He comes into this tournament on a run of five straight losses and since suffering a hand injury in Davis Cup Sela hasn’t won one and perhaps he’s been unable to shake that problem off.
This match will take place in the evening when it’s at its slowest, which will probably help Sela’s cause with the ball bouncing lower he won’t get the pace he likes.
His record here (and in Miami) and on clay (8-33 at main level in his career) shows a lack of suitability to slower conditions and the only reason he’s 1.27 today is that Robert’s run of form has been even worse than Sela’s.
The veteran Frenchman hasn’t won a match since he reached his career high in the rankings of 50 at the age of 36 and he’s on a nine-match losing streak at the moment.
All bar one of those defeats have come against top-50 ranked opponents though and this looks a more than decent opportunity to snap that streak versus an opponent he defeated in their only career meeting so far.
That was on grass at Wimbledon qualies in 2013 and given that Sela is much more experienced has far more wins on that surface than Robert that result was unexpected.
Robert’s funky playing style and a slow surface don’t appear to be the right circumstances to be backing a 1.27 shot who’s on a five-match losing streak to me and odds-against about the Frenchman winning a set seems good value.
This one looks a cert for no tie breaks based on their respective records too.
The other one that might represent an opportunity in match odds prices is to take a chance on Renzo Olivo against the hopelessly out of form Jiri Vesely, who’s lost five of his last six and looks to be struggling – perhaps with a change of racquets.
The Czech moved to Srixon racquets for this season and the only matches he’s won since were against opponents ranked outside the top-400 and 182-ranked Sam Groth (who should have won that match) and Horacio Zeballos (on a quick hard court).
Olivo’s stats on hard aren’t up to much, but he beat Vesely over five sets at the Australian Open last year as a 6.35 chance (and at Wimbledon juniors) so Vesely looks a shaky favourite at 1.43 today.
Kevin Anderson hasn’t won a match since last October and he could be tested by qualifier Federico Gaio, although the time of that match should favour Anderson’s big game.
Malek Jaziri might be a hint of value against Nicolas Mahut in these conditions, where the French veteran has struggled so far in his career, with no back-to-back wins here since 2008.
Jaziri heads the service hold/break numbers in that one and played well against Andy Murray in Dubai before the doctor was called out, so maybe the Tunisian could be an option.
Mahut’s doubles partner Pierre Hugues-Herbert may also find conditions too slow for his net-rushing game, but I’m not sure how fit opponent Thomaz Bellucci is after an injury affected blowout in Sao Paulo last week and the 11am start may aid PHH's cause.
It was a decent day for ‘no tie break’ backers on Thursday, with 11 of 15 completed matches not featuring one and on the tie breaks per set stats the best options today are the ones featuring Sela, Borna Coric, and Mikhail Youzhny.
1 point win Robert +1.5 sets to beat Sela at 2.04