Round two of the Monte-Carlo Masters continues on Tuesday on the French Riviera, with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer among the names in action today.
Monday brought two winners from my two best bets, as Philipp Kohlschreiber comfortably took a set against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and with a little more belief the German could and maybe should have won the match.
My lack of faith in Kohlschreiber to get over the line was justified though, as he handed the match to Tsonga with a couple of limp unforced errors in the final game.
Gael Monfils provided the second winning wager, as the Frenchman was just too good for Kevin Anderson and Lamonf covered the minus 2.5 game handicap narrowly, but with no real problems.
Even the +5.5 games that I was tempted by on Dmitry Tursunov against Tomas Berdych proved successful, but Wednesday looks much tougher, with the remaining 12 second round matches looking tricky betting propositions.
Roger Federer 1.07, Radek Stepanek 8.50
I think it’s definitely worth taking a bit of a chance on Steps here in the circumstances in this 11.30 UK time clash on Court Central.
The layers have the Swiss maestro as a 1.07 shot for this and he probably will win, such is the match-up engrained into Radek’s psyche after just two wins in 16 tries against Federer, but it may not straightforward.
Steps should have won their recent encounter on outdoor hard in Dubai, but failed from a winning position, and that lack of belief puts me off the outright win on the Czech veteran, but he has a shot on the handicap.
Federer flopped disastrously with his new racquet last summer on the clay, losing to Daniel Brands and Federico Delbonis at 1.09 each and he hasn’t played a single match on the red dirt since.
Clearly, this season’s improved form on the hard courts makes him a big favourite, with a 24-4 record in all competitions in 2014, but he has a pretty poor record here in Monte-Carlo by his standards and he’ll be seeing this week as tuning up for Rome, Madrid and Paris to come.
The parameters are different on clay with a new stick and it’s asking a lot even for someone like Federer to come out and beat an opponent as capable as Stepanek first up.
Radek eased himself into this week with an easy win over Ivo Karlovic and Federer will do well to dismiss the 35-year-old three and three or better here.
Federer was undone from a set up by an exhausted Kei Nishikori in his most recent match on tour and he doesn’t warrant these sort of prices these days. Steps +5.5 games looks good here at 1.75 looks decent here.
Elsewhere, Nadal should have few problems against the man who let me down badly last week, Teimuraz Gabashvili.
The Russian used his power to find a way past the ailing Gilles Simon yesterday to complement two comfortable wins in qualifying to raise questions over his efforts last week in losing to an out of touch Carlos Berlocq with barely a whimper.
Nadal will win this in two, but may not necessarily cover a big 7.5 game deficit if Gaba serves well.
Alex Dolgopolov looks short at 1.28 against what the layers perceive as a tired Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but he may still be buzzing after winning Casablanca and Dolgo is a sketchy bet always at that sort of price.
Stan Wawrinka is also a little on the tight side at 1.48 in his first match on clay since last summer and coming off a nervy showing in Davis Cup it’s quite possible that he’s struggling a bit with the Grand Slam champion tag.
Marin Cilic will make him work today and the Croat is one to consider, but much will depend on his serve. If that’s firing it could be a tough day for the Swiss number one.
Best Bet: Back Stepanek +5.5 games to beat Federer at 1.75