The round of 16 is in play on Thursday at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, with all of the world’s top six ranked players in action.
Radek Stepanek produced a dire performance to allow himself to be swept aside by Roger Federer on Wednesday and spoil my only wager of the day and in truth he lost the match in his opening two service games.
The Czech veteran could barely find the court and was broken from 40-0 by serving three double faults. It was that kind of day for Steps and consequently for me.
It’s set to be another overcast, chilly day on the French Riviera on Thursday, which won’t help Rafa Nadal’s game or Federer’s dodgy back, but both have matches that they will struggle to lose even on a bad day.
Favourites were successful in nine of yesterday’s 12 matches, but the last-16 in Monte-Carlo does tend to throw up some shocks, with three big-priced winners a year ago at this stage.
Stanislas Wawrinka 1.30, Nicolas Almagro 3.33
I did think that Marin Cilic would pose much more of a threat to Wawrinka than he actually did yesterday, as Stan blew the Croat away for the loss of just two games.
I said yesterday that Cilic would have to serve well and he did not, putting less than 50% of his first deliveries in play and getting taken apart on his second ball, winning just three of 19 points.
Wawrinka was excellent, in fairness to Cilic, and any sort of repeat of that level will see him overcome a 3.5 game handicap against Almagro when they meet for the 12th time at around 11.30 UK time on Thursday.
Stan leads the career series 8-3 and he’s won the last three straight, including on the clay of Buenos Aires in straight sets just over a year ago and here in Monte-Carlo, also in two sets, in 2012.
Almagro has been subdued for quite some time now and has won just one his last 15 completed matches against top-10 ranked opposition, which was against Tomas Berdych in a final set breaker in Shanghai last autumn.
His 2014 has produced little and even though he made the final of Houston last week he had a bye to get there and didn’t make the most of his chances in a two set loss to Fernando Verdasco.
There’s not much going for Nico on current form and I could go further and point out that he’s 2-33 against top-five ranked players. I don’t see that wretched stat improving today either.
David Ferrer 1.28, Grigor Dimitrov 3.45
This 13.30 UK time meeting between the Spaniard and the Bulgarian will be their fifth overall and Dimitrov will fancy his chances, having beaten Ferrer last time they clashed.
That was indoors, where Ferrer is generally far from his best, but it did involve a good comeback from Dimitrov after dropping the opening set 6-2 to the world number three of the time.
Ferrer has dropped down to six in the rankings now after quite a mediocre start to the season by his standards and in his most recent three events he’s lost to Alex Dolgopolov, Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori.
But it’s more the manner of some of those losses – in particular the Miami loss to Nishikori – that will worry his fans.
Ferrer was poor – as indeed was Kei – in that match and I’m not sure that a comfy win over Jeremy Chardy first up here this week will be enough to have him spot on for what could well be a tough match today.
Dimitrov will be the one who will find it easier to hit through the slow courts today and Ferrer, as ever, will rely upon making everything and waiting for the error. It may not be successful for at least part of this match if Grigor hits his spots.
The 1.28 on Ferrer is too short for me and over 21.5 games at 1.87 appears a much better wager.
Elsewhere, it’s hard to see Federer struggling too much against another Czech, Lukas Rosol, but I don’t trust him at short prices these days and it’s hard to gauge his form, as Stepanek was barely an opponent yesterday.
Rosol does enjoy the slow conditions that allow him to stand and deliver on his big shots, but unless he has another day like against Rafa at Wimbledon, where he doesn’t miss, he’ll go down in a sea of errors.
Nadal can be vulnerable when it’s cold and slow, but not against Andreas Seppi, who doesn’t have the weight of shot to punish the Spaniard. The under 17.5 total games looks likely there at 1.63.
Back Wawrinka –3.5 games to beat Almagro at 1.75
Back over 21.5 games in Ferrer/Dimitrov at 1.87