The clay, hard and indoor hard court tennis action continues on Thursday around the world, with 13 matches in-play in Brazil, France and the United States.
And surely the rancid luck has to turn soon, with Wednesday’s wagers unearthing yet more losses from what were effectively match points up in what has been an incredible season of such defeats so far.
The good news is that I have a lot of luck stored up for the rest of the season and I’m hoping it arrives soon, while circumspect in-play punters would have profited anyway on tumbling odds on the selections that have failed to get that one point they needed.
Andrey Kuznetsov was the first miscreant, after serving for the set one overs against Gael Monfils the Russian had game point twice, but failed, and that was after the worst performance I can recall ever seeing from Tommy Robredo.
The Spaniard simply couldn’t find the court against Andreas Haider Maurer, with his forehand in particular failing spectacularly at times and the Rio Centre Court back fence had it’s busiest day in a long while.
Then, incredibly, there was another defeat from the jaws of victory when my ‘long shot’ Thiemo de Bakker had set points in the opener against David Ferrer, only to lose it 10-8 in the only set he needed to win.
Benoit Paire vs Stanislas Wawrinka
Today’s ‘long shot’ is one for conspiracy theorists, with these two good mates facing off for the fifth time in their careers and wouldn’t it be possible for Wawrinka to play with a little less intensity today?
Having won the title in Rotterdam last week Wawrinka could be forgiven for being below par today playing against his buddy, who has struggled badly with injury and is in much greater need of the ranking points and playing at home.
I was happy to go against Paire with Paul-Henri Mathieu in round one, given the short turnaround for Paire after winning the Bergamo Challenger, but it was PHM who ended up retiring in that one.
Paire has beaten Stan before – on outdoor hard at Masters level – and almost repeated the trick at the same tournament last season, but lost in a final set breaker.
Wawrinka is often slow to start in tournaments and builds up to his best level, so there’s enough in this for me to side with Paire to win set one at 3.05 in this 17:30 UK time start in Marseille.
An alternative long shot is Albert Montanes, who takes on what will surely be a fatigued Pablo Cuevas in Rio, and the Spaniard seems to be underrated here at 3.35.
Marinko Matosevic vs Yoshihito Nishioka
This tournament is one that Matosevic enjoys, having made the final of Delray Beach back in 2012, beating Ernests Gulbis and Ivo Karlovic on the way and he has a 13-5 record here overall, including qualies.
The eccentric Aussie has started well again this year, by beating John Isner in straight sets, although it wasn’t the best performance from Isner, and at a venue he loves playing at it’s hard to see him losing to Nishioka.
The Japanese player is a rare visitor to main level events, with today’s 23:00 UK time clash with Matosevic being just his third match at this level in his career and I’m never convinced about the merits of a win over Igor Sijsling, which is how he got to the second round.
Mad Dog will be eying another final here, with just Alexandr Dolgopolov left of the top three seeds, and it would be a real let down if he lost to Nishioka today.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Tim Smyczek
The number three seed in Delray Beach could well be on his way out of Fort Lauderdale today when he faces American hope Smyczek at 19:30 UK time today.
Dolgo has been struggling badly this season with a torn meniscus in his knee and his win over Teimuraz Gabashvili was his first victory since the opening week of the year.
The Ukrainan admits to needing matches and said, “I feel that the knee is not the same as before,” when talking about the issue.
He’ll be asked to run around a lot and make a lot of balls today by the solid, if unspectacular, Smyczek and to my mind there’s some value on the latter at 2.55, who tends to play well at home.
Indeed, Smyczek tested Dolgo at Indian Wells last year at a time when the Ukrainian was on fire, reaching the semi finals on that tournament and he’ll face a Dolgo not at that level today.
Elsewhere, Fabio Fognini brings a perfect 4-0 and 8-0 in sets head-to-head record into his clash with Pablo Andujar, but would you trust him at the moment (or indeed, ever)?
I recall tipping the over 10.5 games in set one last week when Milos Raonic and Simone Bolelli clashed and of course it was set two that saw the tie break, but that and Jeremy Chardy vs Ernests Gulbis both look good for tie breaks today in Marseille.
Sure thing: Back Matosevic to beat Nishioka at 1.34
Value bet: Back Smyczek to beat Dolgopolov at 2.55
Long shot: Back Paire to win set one vs Wawrinka at 3.05