The fourth round of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open is in-play on Wednesday, with all eight matches at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden scheduled for today.
We managed to find one odds-against winner on Tuesday, with Malek Jaziri overcoming Taylor Fritz in three sets, despite serving at a really poor first serve percentage of around 40%.
The Tunisian got it done when it mattered though, unlike Gilles Muller, who also served badly, with barely a first serve in play early on against Kei Nishikori, who reversed the roles by producing 95% of his first serves in set one.
Without his serve and facing a peak-serving Nishikori the leftie had no chance and was easily beaten, while outright Grigor Dimitrov blew a 4-1 final set lead and four match points to lose in a tie break to Jack Sock.
Those who took the 2-1 win to Novak Djokovic over Juan Martin Del Potro would have collected on a 3.80 winner though and we move on to yet another very hot day in prospect at Indian Wells.
Gael Monfils vs Dominic Thiem
The head-to-head looks pretty good on paper for Thiem here, with a 3-0 score line in his favour over Monfils, but really only one of those matches should be counted.
One was a walkover and another – their latest – featured an injured Monfils, who then pulled out of his next round robin match at the O2 in London against Novak Djokovic.
So, it’s just the clay clash in Umag in 2015 that should count in their career series and that one was another played in very hot conditions and Monfils faded away after a great start in that match.
And it’s the heat that would worry me if I were thinking of backing either man here, with Monfils often found wanting in the latter stages in the kind of temperatures that we’ve had at Indian Wells this week.
Monfils was at his dramatic best earlier in the week, saying he felt he was dying on the plane over to California, due to a fever, but (surprise, surprise) he then downplayed it to “a pesky cold” after beating John Isner.
“It was evening. It was less hot and the air was drier,” said Gael after a great performance against John Isner, and the timing of today’s match against Thiem at (not before) 20:30 local time will please the Frenchman for sure.
And slow night time conditions gives me even more reason to back ‘no tie breaks’ in this one, with Monfils a potential struggler, and both men holding low tie breaks per set ratios on outdoor hard at main level in the last year.
Thiem is down at 0.08 tie breaks per set, with Monfils just a touch higher at 0.12, and with the odds on no tie breaks mathematically being 1.57 based on results here over the last three years a price today of 1.85 has to be value.
Monfils has played one breaker in last 30 sets on outdoor hard and Thiem three in his last 31, while none of their head-to-head sets have featured tie breaks, so this wager has to be good value.
With it being played at night I’d be tempted to side with Monfils as slight underdog, as his outdoor hard court service hold/break stats are almost 10% better than Thiem’s.
But I prefer no tie breaks and the same wager is also decent value in the match everyone will no doubt want to see.
Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal
A quick repeat then of the Australian Open final and this superstar pair have only played a tie break against each other on an outdoor hard court at the Australian Open (since 2005).
Away from Melbourne Park they’ve played a dozen sets with no tie breaks since 2005 at main level and in all outdoor hard court clashes they’ve played one breaker in their last 16 sets against each other on outdoor hard and one in their last 23 on all surfaces.
You would think that Nadal would have a better chance against Federer here at Indian Wells, with the courts taking his top-spin and kicking it high into the backhand of the Swiss.
The Spaniard has won eight of their 11 outdoor hard clashes, but the underdog has won six of those 11 matches, and Nadal is too short in price for me here with no breakers the preferred option.
Of the betting underdogs today I’d perhaps give Nick Kyrgios a shot against Novak Djokovic, with the match being played at 15:00 local time, as opposed to the night conditions that Djokovic prefers and usually gets.
NK beat Djokovic in Acapulco a few days ago and served superbly that day, so it’s a possibility, but Novak looked very good last night against Delpo and I’d imagine he’ll get his revenge here.
It’s hard to make much of a case for the other underdogs today, with perhaps the heat likely to cause problems for David Goffin and maybe Dusan Lajovic could cover the handicap, but there doesn’t appear to be a huge amount of value around today other than in tie breaks.
1 point win no tie breaks in Monfils/Thiem at 1.85
1 point win no tie breaks in Federer/Nadal at 1.83