Round two action is the order of the day in Valencia and Basel in the final week of 2015’s ATP 250 and ATP 500 level tournaments.
We have six matches from round two in Basel and the same in Valencia on Thursday after Wednesday brought us three winning picks and two successful wagers.
Roberto Bautista Agut did it the hard way, but win he did, against Nico Almagro in three sets to secure the ‘sure thing’, while Rafael Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov, also in three sets.
Pablo Cuevas was a winner too for those who backed him against Bernard Tomic, but Denis Kudla failed to take a set off Jack Sock, which meant the ‘long shot’ double failed.
At the Swiss Indoors in 2014 round two’s matches saw no real upsets to speak of, with two slight underdogs prevailing, while at the Valencia Open it was a similar story, with only Pablo Carreno-Busta success over Feli Lopez at 3.7 raising any eyebrows.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs Taro Daniel
There are a fair few options for short priced backers today, with the likes of Daniel Brands, Bautista-Agut, Marin Cilic, and Roger Federer all looking highly likely to win on Thursday.
At slightly bigger prices there are Ivo Karlovic and Garcia-Lopez to consider and I do like GGL here against the clay-loving Japanese world number 120 Daniel.
Garcia-Lopez, as I mentioned the other day, has a poor record here, but having beaten Fernando Verdasco in a match that was rather peculiar in terms of the pre-match betting, GGL has a very good chance of going deep this week in Valencia.
Conditions should suit him on this slowish Greenset indoor court and today’s 17:00 UK time clash with Daniel looks a very winnable one for the Spaniard.
Daniel has a 1-8 record against the top-100 on hard courts and 4-20 on all surfaces, with his best career win coming against Federico Delbonis (9-7 in a final set tie break) on clay in Vina Del Mar in 2014.
Britain’s Dan Evans beat Daniel a few months ago and here in Valencia his qualifying run was simple, with a retirement followed by wins over opponents ranked 347 and 130, and then he met number 167 Michal Przysiezny in round one.
That win over the Pole was Daniel’s first at tour level since that Vina Del Mar tournament last year and clay is his preferred surface, with this being his first tournament away from clay since the US Open.
GGL should be too good for Daniel here and he looks today’s ‘sure thing’ at 1.28, with the Spaniard holding a 13-1 career record as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite.
Karlovic can be added to make a double if required, with Dusan Lajovic having a poor record against big servers, and here thanks to the retirement of Alexandr Dolgopolov in round one.
Kevin Anderson vs Donald Young
The layers have been putting Anderson in far too short of late and 1.16 against the mercurial Young seems altogether a sketchy wager to me and especially at this late stage of the season on a slowish surface.
Young has beaten Anderson four times in his career, including last season on quick outdoor hard in Washington DC, and only on grass has Anderson enjoyed a comfortable success over the American in their 10 career meetings.
And that is hardly surprising, as Young has won only one of his last nine matches on grass, while on hard courts he can be a tough proposition, as he showed in Montreal and New York this summer when he beat Tomas Berdych and Gilles Simon.
If he can beat Berdych he can beat Berdych-light, which is pretty much what Anderson is, although in fairness to Big Kev he’s got a great attitude and gets the most out of himself, showing improvement again this season.
But that new level that’s seen him enter the top-10 has seen his betting odds drop accordingly and now he’s too short and he was beaten as a 1.42 chance by Steve Johnson last week and by Gilles Muller in Tokyo.
Young has taken at least a set from Anderson in their last three meetings on hard courts and in seven of their eight in total on indoor and outdoor hard and the 2.50 about him doing it again looks value today.
I also quite like Mischa Zverev as underdog against Fabio Fognini, who tends to perform poorly at the end of the season, and Joao Sousa, who may well have too much determination for the flaky Benoit Paire.
Richard Gasquet vs Dominic Thiem
This 17:00 UK time clash in Basel between Gasquet and Thiem might be a tight affair, with plenty of swashbuckling single-handed backhands on display, and I like the 2-1 win for the Frenchman here at 3.95.
Gasquet has a very good record against opponents with a one-handed backhand, with only Roger Federer beating him in the last year-and-a-half in completed matches.
Taking Federer out of the equation Gasquet has won his last 13 completed matches against players (of either hand) with one-handed backhands and that run looks set to continue today.
We had success in backing Robin Haase +1.5 sets over Thiem in round one and Haase should really have won that match, but it was a very good battling display from the young Austrian to emerge the winner in that one.
And it’s that sort of determination that can see him take a set today, with Gasquet prone to lapses, as he showed again in his opener against Jiri Vesely in which the Gasman won 6-4 in the third in the end.
The slowish surface here should suit both players and fitness will most likely be a factor, with Thiem having played nine more matches than Gasquet, who had a month off after the US Open and may have more in the tank than the Austrian.
Sure thing: Back Garcia-Lopez to beat Daniel at 1.28
Value bet: Back Young +1.5 sets to beat Anderson at 2.50
Long shot: Back Gasquet to beat Thiem 2-1 at 3.95