There’s a very busy day in prospect on the second day of the new tennis season on Tuesday, with 26 ATP matches scheduled in Brisbane, Doha and Chennai.
We were a little unlucky with the value bet on day one when Marcel Granollers made Borna Coric work very hard indeed in Chennai and ended up a narrow loser in the final set.
Granollers scored just four points fewer in the match and could have won it in straight sets, having served for set one before going on to win set two, so it was good news for +1.5 set backers, but a tight defeat on the outright match odds.
Elsewhere, Feli Lopez showed just why I didn’t trust him at 1.18 against Daniel Munoz De La Nava when he lost from a set up, while there was also a poor defeat for another Spaniard, Nico Almagro in Chennai.
Bernard Tomic vs Nicolas Mahut
Kicking things off on Tuesday we head to Brisbane for the ‘sure thing’, having dodged that bullet on Lopez on Monday, and the best of the short prices looks to be Tomic against veteran serve/volleyer Mahut in the 11:00 UK time start.
Mahut has a poor record against top-20 opposition on hard courts, with only one win in his last 18 matches versus the top-20 going back almost five years.
That win (tipped in this very column) was against Tommy Robredo the week before a major in Winston-Salem in 2014 and that victory over Robredo is the only time in Mahut’s career that he’s beaten a top-20 opponent on an outdoor hard court.
Add to that the chatter about Mahut having an elbow injury and Tomic’s better effort ratio at home in Australia plus his ability to pass a net rusher down both wings and we have the most viable short-priced bet of the day at around the 1.21 mark.
Tomic has a perfect 14-0 record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite at main level and looks as much of a ‘sure thing’ as one is likely to find at that price in the first week of the season.
Alternative short ones to add to Tomic to make a multiple include Tomas Berdych, who has a 6-0 career lead over Sergiy Stakhovksy, and David Ferrer, who is defending his title in Doha and should ease past Ilya Marchenko.
Pablo Andujar vs Paulo Lorenzi
There are two Spaniards who are slight underdogs in the betting on Tuesday who could turn out to be good value and one such is Andujar who is a 2.02 chance against Lorenzi.
Andujar’s season ended early with an elbow problem in 2015, but if he’s fit he shouldn’t be an underdog against Lorenzi, who hasn’t played a match on outdoor hard since the Australian Open last year.
Lorenzi got lucky that week when he faced an injured Alexandr Dolgopolov in round one in Melbourne and that win aside the Italian’s last success over a top-100 opponent on outdoor hard came in 2014 at Indian Wells over Pablo Carreno Busta.
Andujar’s record is hard is equally poor, but he showed considerable improvement on the quicker surfaces last season before injury struck, with wins over Lukas Rosol, and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at Wimbledon and a good showing against Berdych the same tournament.
He also played well in several other matches on hard and defeated Lorenzi in their only clash last season on clay in Rio.
I wouldn’t like him as favourite, but as underdog either Andujar or Albert Ramos could be worth chancing.
Ramos takes on the ageing Paul-Henri Mathieu, who will turn 34 in a week’s time, and the price here is based on PHM’s win over Ramos at home in Paris qualies on indoor hard at the end of last season.
But Ramos’ last appearance on outdoor hard saw him defeat Roger Federer and Sam Querrey (and almost beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) at the Shanghai Masters and he could be underrated here.
Malek Jaziri also looks too big at 3.55 against a seemingly on the slide Fernando Verdasco, who lost seven of his last eight matches in 2015 and will be 33 years old later this year.
Aljaz Bedene vs Vasek Pospisil
Pospisil’s chances in this 13:30 UK time (19:00 local) clash with Bedene might be aided by the late start time, but I still wouldn’t be keen on backing the Canadian in hot, humid conditions like these in Chennai.
Bedene made the final in Chennai last year, while Pospisil is notorious for struggling badly in very hot conditions and retired here in the 2014 Chennai tournament.
The Canadian has shown his weakness in hot conditions in Australia too and Bedene did beat Pospisil in their only career meeting played on an outdoor hard court in Miami.
For my ‘long shot’ today I’ll take Bedene +1.5 sets, along with James Duckworth +1.5 sets, and over 9.5 games in set one of Viktor Troicki vs Steve Johnson to make a 4.72 treble.
Duckworth faces Dominic Thiem, who has no sort of record in Australia, and Ducky will be keen to back up the good showing of his in Brisbane a year ago when he defeated Gilles Simon and Jarkko Nieminen before being schooled by Federer.
Thiem is unproven in the quick conditions and heat of Australia and could easily drop a set to Ducky, while big-serving duo Troicki and Johnson should create few break chances on quick hard.
Troicki was 10th and Johnson eighth in the list of most aces hit in 2015 and in a first career meeting tie breaks look likely on a fast court.
Sure thing: Back Tomic to beat Mahut at 1.21
Value bet: Back Andujar to beat Lorenzi at 2.02
Long shot: Back Bedene +1.5 sets; Duckworth +1.5 sets; over 9.5 games in set one of Troicki/Johnson at 4.72