There’s round two action on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open, with 16 matches on the schedule for today at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Those who took a chance on Stephane Robert on Friday would have enjoyed a nice winner on either the set handicap at 2.04 or outright at 4.0 for those who were braver.
Typically, I went for the set handicap, and of course Robert won it in straight sets, but it was nice that it worked out as I had hoped, with the Frenchman getting the ball up high to the short Sela’s backhand and winning reasonably comfortably.
Day three is set to be a hot one, with temperatures in the mid-30s in the shade expected, so perhaps it’ll be a day for the big servers, with John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all in action early in the day.
Damir Dzumhur vs Albert Ramos
Both of the Sao Paulo finalists look to have good chances as underdogs today and I’m going to take Ramos to beat Dzumhur, who is struggling with a back problem and looks vulnerable as favourite here.
Lots of the clay courters do well here at Indian Wells and Ramos has a fine record here of 7-4, with wins over Nick Kyrgios, Richard Gasquet, Viktor Troicki and Julien Benneteau to his name.
Even Novak Djokovic only beat Ramos 7-5, 6-3 when they clashed here in 2015 and the Serb went on to win the title that year, so he’s proven a very tough opponent in these conditions.
Dzumhur had a very late finish on Thursday night/Friday morning and has said of his back injury: “ The only thing that worries me is my back injury, which stems from the match with Wawrinka.
“It has given me a lot of problems and at Indian Wells, out of a possible five days I have practiced just two. I have taken a large amount of pain medication, which helped in the match against Harrison, so I hope that everything will be okay.”
Doesn’t sound promising and if he is to beat Ramos surely he’ll have to play a lot of long rallies and grind it out, as he doesn’t have the weapons to win any other way.
The Bosnian had a great win over Ryan Harrison in round one, but that was his first win in four career matches at Indian Wells, and his record at main level against lefties isn’t up to much either.
Dzumhur is 2-4 on the tour versus left-handers in completed matches, with his only wins coming against Michael Berrer and Jiri Vesely, and the service hold/break stats aren’t really with him either.
Ramos holds serve 74.6% of the time on outdoor hard at main level in the last year (Dzumhur 70.3%) and breaks 21.2% of the time (Dzumhur 25%) for a 95.8 total (Dzumhur 95.3).
So, a tiny edge to Ramos there, and combined with Dzumhur’s poor record here and against lefties and carrying an injury the only thing in his favour would be Ramos’ switch of surfaces from clay to hard.
I don’t think that’s enough to make Dzumhur favourite though and I’m happy to take Ramos at even money in their first career meeting.
Saturday looks a much more appealing day than Friday did and several other betting underdogs look in with excellent chances, including Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dusan Lajovic, Pablo Cuevas, and Yoshihito Nishioka.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Paulo Lorenzi
Once again the layers have made Wawrinka very short at a tournament he doesn’t do well in, with the Swiss having made only two quarter finals at Indian Wells in nine attempts.
The last one of those was six years ago and he’s dropped his opening set of the tournament in four of his last six appearances at this event.
It shouldn’t come as a major shock, with Wawrinka often wild with his ground strokes and often his ‘plan B’ is to hit harder when he starts missing, which is never a great idea with the balls flying in the thin desert air.
He’s got a tricky start time today of around 17:00 local time (01:00 UK) when conditions will change from day to dusk and it’s not easy to adapt for any player.
And opponent Lorenzi will make sure Wawrinka has to hit plenty of balls, with his grinding approach that even Andy Murray found tough to break down at last year’s US Open.
Wawrkina comes here having been beaten by Dzumhur as defending champion in Dubai and with a knee problem of which coach Magnus Norman said: “As you all have seen the knee of Stan has been an issue the last few events, but it keeps improving bit by bit.”
And Wawrinka himself: “ I had some knee problems since then [Melbourne], so I couldn’t play well enough in Dubai, but I think it’s been going well on the practice courts.”
Hardly bubbling with enthusiasm there and Lorenzi comes into this one after a straight sets win over the in-form Robin Haase and despite sporting calf strapping as usual the Italian is expected to make this tough for the Swiss.
Only two of Wawrinka’s last 10 matches at Indian Wells have completed in 20 games or fewer and over 20.5 looks good here at around evens again.
Bigger priced wagers that I have a sneaking regard for today include ‘no tie break played’ in Karlovic’s match with Yoshihito Nishioka at around 3.0 and ‘tie break played’ in Tsonga’s clash with Fabio Fognini.
Karlovic has a poor record at Indian Wells too, with two wins since 2011, and just two breakers played in his last 13 sets at this tournament.
Both of Tsonga’s hard court matches against Fognini have featured tie breaks and five of their 10 sets against each other on all surfaces have lasted at least 12 games.
If Fogna fancies it after his remarkable comeback in his opening round there might be value at 3.0 on a breaker, with Tsonga another that struggles to adapt to these conditions.
In all seven of his (completed) opening sets of the tournament at Indian Wells he’s lost two, won one on a tie break, won two 7-5, and won the other two comfortably (against Sela and Marinko Matosevic).
Karen Khachanov could be another big-priced option, but he’s got to be on a good day against David Goffin, and he’s just too wild for me to trust him in these conditions, although +1.5 sets might be decent.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Bjorn Fratangelo gave a good account of himself against Tomas Berdych, with the Czech not in the best of form and confidence can’t be high after losing to Haase in Dubai.
1 point win Ramos to beat Dzumhur at 2.0
1 point win over 20.5 games in Wawrinka/Lorenzi at 1.98