Day two of the 2016 Rogers Cup in Toronto has 13 matches from round one and round two on the schedule on Tuesday at the Uniprix Stadium.
It was almost a bumper clean sweep of winners on day one and would have been for those who went for the -4.5 games on John Isner, rather than the unders, which I finally opted for.
But it was a win for the ‘sure thing’ double of Sam Querrey and Jack Sock and a 6.30 success for ‘long shot’ backers, as Denis Shapovalov stunned Nick Kyrgios and not only took set one, but dumped the Aussie out of the tournament.
It’ll be around 28C and fairly humid today in Toronto, so not perfect conditions, but rather testing and even Canadian player Steven Diez had to take pills on court as he said: “After long points, I felt like I was going to vomit.”
So, it’s quite tough out there, and will we see some of the tour’s less than committed when the going gets tough kind of players not fancy it today?
Benoit Paire vs Radek Stepanek
It’ll come as no surprise that Paire’s name features highly on any list of less than committed players and he looks worth taking on in his 11:00 am local time (16:00 UK) start against Stepanek.
The veteran Czech remains as keen as ever and battled through qualies to get here, so he won’t be downing tools if it gets hot out there, but can we say the same about the Frenchman?
Probably not and he gave us another example of his appalling attitude last week in hot conditions in Washington DC when he tanked it against Alexander Zverev and looked to be limping too, so maybe he is injured.
In any case his main level hard courts stats over the past year aren’t as good as those of his opponent, with Paire recording 78.9 percent service holds and 19.8 percent breaks, while Stepanek’s mark is 81 percent and 23.8 percent.
So, I’m happy to take the Czech as an underdog in this situation and he looks the ‘value bet’ at 2.33 today.
Gael Monfils vs Joao Sousa
We have to take a chance on Monfils being a tad below par physically in this clash with Sousa in the hottest part of the day at around 13:00 local time (18:00 UK).
The Frenchman was the beneficiary of a choke from Ivo Karlovic on Sunday in Washington DC when the Croat blinked serving for a 2-0 win over the Frenchman for the Citi Open title and that was another match played in hot conditions.
Monfils was allowed back into it and eventually landed the title after two-and-a-quarter hours in the heat and I feel you have to question how much Gael will fancy another shift in tough conditions this week.
Sousa had a great chance to make the Umag final last week, but lost in the quarters to Andrej Martin and he’ll need all his battling qualities to win this one if Monfils is at it, but he could easily be fitter than Lamonf here.
Monfils had barely played all summer until Washington DC and last week was the first time he’d played back-to-back matches since Madrid in May, so it must be questioned as to how well he can recover.
The 4.70 on Sousa looks the one to chance here.
Alexander Zverev vs Yen-Hsun Lu
There aren’t too many options for ‘sure thing’ backers today, with Zverev and Stanislas Wawrinka perhaps the most likely pair to come up with the goods for short-priced punters.
Lu has a record of winning just 14 percent of his matches versus top-30 ranked opponents on hard courts and despite his stats being comparable to those of Zverev I’m not sure I see an upset here.
The young German was reportedly suffering from food poisoning last week when he was dismissed by Monfils in DC, but he should prove too strong for Lu today.
Lu has won only three of his 22 matches at Masters 1000 level versus top-30 opposition and after last week’s disappointment Zverev will be keen to make an impact in this weak field for this level.
Backing Wawrinka at Masters 1000 level is sometimes hazardous at odds-on, but with no Murray, Federer or Djokovic this week you’d think he’d fancy his chances of landing a first hard court Masters 1000 title.
Mikhail Youzhny is not the player he was and hasn’t beaten a top-10 ranked opponent for two years now and he’s only won one set in his last seven matches versus the elite.
Indeed, he’s won only three of his last 23 against top-10 opposition and although he won his last two against Wawrinka the most recent one was five years ago and a lot has changed since then.
Sure thing: Back Zverev and Wawrinka in a double at 1.51
Value bet: Back Stepanek to beat Paire at 2.33
Long shot: Back Sousa to beat Monfils at 4.70