The third round of matches is the order of the day at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre on Thursday, with a host of the game’s elite chasing places in the Shanghai Rolex Masters quarter finals.
Stan Wawrinka, Feliciano Lopez and Bernard Tomic will all be there, after they completed a clean sweep of winning bets for us on Wednesday.
‘Sure thing’ Wawrinka defeated Viktor Troicki in two sets, while ‘long shot’ Tomic was also a straight sets winner at 3.35 over David Ferrer, and Lopez finished things off with a win over Dominic Thiem.
In the third round in Shanghai a year ago there were only two underdog winners in the eight matches, with Ferrer’s victory over Andy Murray at 3.1 the best of them.
Play starts at 06:30 UK time and we have four grand slam winners and a further four major finalists in action on Thursday.
Novak Djokovic vs Feliciano Lopez
The world number one cruised past Martin Klizan on Wednesday for the loss of only three games, but I’m expecting a rather closer affair when Djokovic takes on Lopez at 08:00 UK time.
Klizan, as he often does, beat himself with a glut of unforced errors, but I don’t expect such gifts from Lopez and the over 16.5 total games at 1.24 looks the best of the short prices on Thursday.
Lopez has a very good record at this event, where the court speed suits his attacking game, and his 17-6 record highlights his effectiveness here at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.
This match is scheduled for 15:00 local time when the courts should play at a decent pace and I’d be surprised if Djokovic was to win this match something like 6-3, 6-1, which is what he would need to do for this bet to lose.
Only one of their six career clashes has been really one-sided and that was on slow hard in Miami back in 2007 and their US Open meeting a couple of months ago almost went to five sets.
Djokovic will almost certainly win this, but 1.02 is a bit of an insult of a price to Lopez, and this overs mark looks the one for short-priced backers on Thursday.
Gilles Simon vs Tomas Berdych
It’s not too often that you’ll find a price of around 2.40 on a player who has a 7-4 career head-to-head lead over his opponent, but that’s the case in this 13:00 UK time clash between last year’s finalist and the world number five.
Simon will be very keen to progress as far as he can in this tournament after already seeing his ranking points drop off from his run to the 2014 final and he should be confident against a Berdych who hasn’t maintained his form over time since the early part of the season.
Despite winning Shenzhen a few weeks ago Berdych hasn’t been able to string consistent results together since the spring and he’s been beaten by Simone Bolelli, Pablo Cuevas, and Donald Young on hard courts in recent months.
The career series is quite a peculiar one, with their last clash coming on the grass of Wimbledon and that ended in a very one-sided win for Simon at a price of 3.28, but before that in February Berdych won easily indoors in Rotterdam.
Berdych should perhaps have been beaten by Jack Sock on Wednesday, with the American winning more points overall than the Czech, who played the big ones the better.
Simon also struggled, having to come from a set and a break down against Leo Mayer in round two, but these prices today must come from the theory that Berdych’s extra power will prevail in quick conditions.
I’m not convinced at all that it will turn out that way, given that six of their 11 clashes being won by the underdog, and Berdych hasn’t impressed me anywhere near enough of late to take a price of 1.55 about him here.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Albert Ramos
It’s been a bit of an up and down week for us as far as Ramos is concerned, with a nice winner on the Spaniard over Sam Querrey, but a loss for Roger Federer against the leftie from Barcelona.
Now he takes on Tsonga, who is a 1.10 shot for this 06:30 UK time clash, and I couldn’t possibly be on Tsonga at that price in the form that he’s been in of late.
I would expect the Frenchman to come through, but Nick Kyrgios, Querrey and Federer all struggled, and this will probably be more of a laboured win for Tsonga than the expected routine win.
The pair clashed at Wimbledon this summer and Tsonga did enough to win in three sets, but he wasn’t exactly dominant and Ramos has already shown he can handle big servers well at the moment.
A curious player, who one week can appear out of his depth at Challenger level on clay and the next week challenge the best in the business on quick hard, Ramos finds himself at this third round stage of a Masters 1000 on hard for only the second time.
Federer managed to break the Ramos serve only twice in three sets – and he didn’t play poorly – so to expect a poor returner like Tsonga to break at will seems fanciful.
The 3.90 about over 10.5 games in set one looks a viable long shot here and a better option for me than the likes of Tomic, or John Isner do as underdogs in their matches.
Sure thing: Back over 16.5 games in Lopez/Djokovic at 1.24
Value bet: Back Simon to beat Berdych at 2.40
Long shot: Back over 10.5 games in set 1 of Tsonga/Ramos at 3.90