Wednesday at the BNP Paribas masters is a busy one, with a dozen matches from round two on the schedule at the Palais Omnisports in Bercy.
The likes of Rafa Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer all make their tournament debuts on day three after we found a couple of winners from our three bets on day two.
It perhaps should have been three from three, as my ‘long shot’ Lucas Pouille was a set and a break up on Jeremy Chardy, but collapsed in dismal fashion, losing 11 of the last 13 games to slump to defeat.
That was after David Ferrer had very easily landed the ‘sure thing’ over Alexandr Dolgopolov and before the late match on Court 1 saw Lukas Rosol defeat Guillermo Garcia Lopez to secure the ‘value bet’.
Last year’s second round in Bercy saw only three underdog winner from 16 matches and there was nothing bigger than 2.44, which is quite surprising at this tournament.
There were no retirements in round two last year and seven of the 16 matches went to three sets.
David Goffin vs Dusan Lajovic
There are numerous options for short-priced favourite backers on Wednesday, with this 09:30 UK time start between Goffin and Lajovic looking about the best choice for my money.
It’s a first time meeting between the Belgian and the Serbian and I’m expecting Goffin to be motivated here, with the Davis Cup Final still to come this season and a chance to put down a marker against Andy Murray likely if he wins this match.
Lajovic played well to beat Nicolas Mahut in round one, but it was always going to be too slow for Mahut here, with his serve and volley game fairly easy to pick off in the stodgy conditions in Bercy.
The Serbian has had a poor season in 2015 and he’ll be very pleased to have shown improved form at the end of the campaign and he’s back inside the world’s top-75 after his run this week at least.
But he’s 0-9 against top-20 ranked opposition in his career so far and Goffin should have too much consistency and quality in this one.
Goffin has an 8-2 record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite, with the two losses coming to Benoit Paire and Marcos Baghdatis and it’s unlikely that Lajovic will make it a hat-trick.
Other short ones to consider include Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and John Isner, all of whom should record wins at short prices.
Viktor Troicki vs Feliciano Lopez
This 17:30 approx. UK time clash between the Serbian and the Spaniard looks like it may hold some value on Troicki, who looked like his game suited the slow conditions here really well in a win over Jack Sock on Tuesday.
Admittedly, it was a fatigued Sock who went down all too easily against Troicki, but this might be a good time for the Serbian to relax and play some decent tennis after a dire spell since Wimbledon.
Troicki excelled on the grass, but it seems like after losing a two set lead to Vasek Pospisil in the last-16 at Wimbledon he mentally checked out, losing 11 of the next 16 matches.
Perhaps that win over Sock will finally bring the belief back into his game and this is a very winnable match against an opponent who much prefers far quicker, slicker conditions than this.
Lopez has done nothing in Bercy since it changed from quick carpet to hard and Troicki won their only prior career meeting on the clay of Rome earlier this season.
Troicki has a better record against lefties than righties in his career at main level and I just think his confidence took a huge knock this summer, which explains his dire run.
The 2.18 about Troicki seems a price worth taking and will be my ‘value bet’ for Wednesday.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Roberto Bautista-Agut
This one goes in the ‘long shot’ category, as I’m not too sure how much gas RBA has left in the tank after two hard weeks in Moscow and Valencia, where he made the final of both tournaments back-to-back.
I said yesterday that Pierre Hugues-Herbert might cause RBA problems and the Frenchman did take a one set lead, but credit to Bautista-Agut who came back well to take his place in round two against Tsonga.
RBA pushed Tsonga all the way on a much quicker hard court surface in Montreal a few months ago and on a slower indoor court this looks about as tricky an opening match that Big Jo could get.
Tsonga hasn’t played for a few weeks after looking tired in a loss to Rosol in Vienna, so he may be slow to start in this match and in these conditions RBA should prove a tough nut to crack.
The over 22.5 games in this one can be doubled with the +1.5 sets on Leo Mayer against Richard Gasquet in the 11:30 UK time clash between the Frenchman and the Argentine.
Gasquet has a poor record at this tournament (and Paris in general), with only one quarter final since 2007, and he has won only one of his last six matches in Bercy in straight sets.
Conditions will probably suit the Frenchman, but he doesn’t perform in Paris at Bercy or the French Open, and last year he got lucky when Denis Istomin retired, but then he was thrashed by Bautista-Agut in the next round, and Mayer can make this close if his attitude is right.
The price is awful on Gasquet and this entertaining clash of two flashy single-handers can go to three sets.
The double of Mayer +1.5 sets and Tsonga/RBA to go over 22.5 games would pay around 3.91 and is Wednesday’s ‘long shot’.
Sure thing: Back Goffin to beat Lajovic at 1.21
Value bet: Back Troicki to beat Lopez at 2.18
Long shot: Back over 22.5 games in Tsonga/Bautista-Agut and Mayer +1.5 sets at 3.91