The main draw of the 2015 Coupe Rogers in Montreal begins on Monday at the Uniprix Stadium, with 12 matches on the schedule for today in Canada.
One excellent return game from John Isner was enough to foil my over 10.5 games in set one wager in the Washington DC final on Sunday in a match that Kei Nishikori won in a decider.
We focus on the first of our back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments now and round one the last time this event was held in Montreal saw half of the 24 matches won by the underdog.
Given that this is the first tournament on hard for many of the seeded players since the spring that perhaps isn’t that surprising and the quick conditions probably help in that regard too.
The biggest priced winner in Montreal’s round one in 2013 was Vasek Pospisil’s 5.54 success over Isner, while Filip Peliwo and Marcel Granollers were also nice underdog winners.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Ivo Karlovic
We were unlucky with the over 10.5 yesterday, but surely this first meeting between Janowicz and Karlovic will go to a tie break at some point.
JJ hasn’t played a match on outdoor hard since March, while Ivo certainly has been the busier in these conditions, and I would expect the Croat to end up winning this match.
However, I wouldn’t be too confident of backing either player to actually win any ensuing tie break, given their respective records of only 42 and 43 percent win ratio in breakers in 2015.
In his last 20 opening sets going back to the French Open Karlovic has gone past 10.5 games 17 times, which makes the 1.67 about it happening today pretty good value.
Karlovic has won only 10 percent of his return games this season and Janowicz 20 percent, so one would expect chances to break to be at a premium today with two big servers and poor returners in opposition.
Andreas Seppi vs Gilles Simon
Two players coming back from injury clash here in this 17:30 UK time round one match on Court Central and I would expect the Frenchman to win it.
I like Simon on the quicker hard courts where he can redirect the pace coming from the opponents’ racquet and Seppi’s pace should be fairly comfortable for Gillou assuming he’s fit.
Simon won on fast indoor hard in Marseille earlier in the season and over best-of-three he can be effective and very hard for even the best to hit through.
Seppi retired with a back problem last week on the clay of Kitzbuhel against Dusan Lajovic and that isn’t a great sign for his supporters coming into the hard court swing that is notoriously tough on the body.
Indeed, reports from the venue have suggested that the Italian was seen grimacing in his practice hits, which also doesn’t bode well for him, and neither does his 2-5 record in the Canada Masters and 0-4 mark versus Simon.
Simon has had a few weeks off citing a foot injury, but if he is fit he looks the best of the short-prices today at around 1.29.
The Frenchman has a 10-3 record on outdoor hard as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite at main level, with six wins in a row, and he hasn’t lost one since 2011.
Other shorties to consider include Sam Querrey, who faces the out of sorts Martin Klizan, and holds an 18-3 record on outdoor hard as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite at main level.
He hasn’t lost one at that price since 2010 and he won his only prior match with Klizan in straight sets in Davis Cup last season.
Sergiy Stakhovsky vs Filip Peliwo
Peliwo is a decent prospect and he looks rather big in price at 3.70 to get off to a quick start and take the opening set from Stakho in this 17:30 UK time start on Banque Nationale court.
Stakhovksy hasn’t won a match since June 23 on grass against a tired Viktor Troicki and he hasn’t played on outdoor hard since March 25 in Miami, so his form and familiarity with conditions are questionable.
Peliwo has been practicing in Montreal since last Wednesday and having been handed a wild card at his home tournament motivation will be high and with Stakho in such poor form (he was beaten in both singles rubbers against Poland in Davis Cup) this might be close early on.
I would expect the fast conditions to suit Stakho’s game, but his 2-3 record in Canada’s main draw hardly inspires and confidence can’t be high after seven defeats from his last nine.
Peliwo did win as a 3.85 shot against an admittedly below par Jarkko Nieminen here as a wild card two years ago and that will at least give him some confidence, as will the set he won off Denis Istomin in the second round that year.
Sure thing: Back Simon to beat Seppi at 1.29
Value bet: Back over 10.5 games in set one of Karlovic/Janowicz at 1.67
Long shot: Back Peliwo to win set one vs Stakhovsky at 3.70