Day two of the BNP Paribas Open sees the first round complete in the desert at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
And after saying yesterday that we need to be on our guard against any tanking or questionable efforts from those on Davis Cup duty injury and illness cost me two of my three wagers on Thursday.
Andreas Haider-Maurer struggled with a knee problem and was unable to perform near his best against Borna Coric, who himself was previously suffering with injury.
Prior to that we had an illness situation with Joao Sousa, who had the doctor on court for sickness and dizziness in his loss to Ivan Dodig, but there were no such excuses for Dominic Thiem’s poor loss to James Duckworth.
Thiem had led 5-3 in the opening set tie break of that one, but after losing the next four points he was never competitive in set two and collapsed to a bad defeat.
Looking at the other results there really were no ‘sure things’ yesterday, with the only other one I suggested being Ryan Harrison, who did beat the returning Mardy Fish, but it was a real struggle.
The only winner shorter than 1.4 yesterday was Adrian Mannarino, who himself was a victim of the biggest priced winner here a year ago.
There should be a couple more today though and surely Alex Dolgopolov will be one of them.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Frank Dancevic
Dolgo loves nothing better than taking a big server to the cleaners, as he showed last year by dismantling Milos Raonic here and again a few weeks ago against Sam Groth in Acapulco in similar conditions.
The quirky Ukrainian went very well at this tournament last year when beating Rafa Nadal and Raonic on his way to the semi finals and it’s hard to see journeyman Dancevic having the weapons in these conditions to beat Dolgopolov.
The 30-year-old Canadian hasn’t won a main draw match here since 2007 and qualified thanks to a collapse from Philipp Petzschner, who failed from a set and double break ahead.
You’re never quite sure with Dolgo, but with big points to defend both here and in Miami where he made the last eight a year ago he should be motivated.
Victor Estrella Burgos vs Michael Berrer
This 18:00 UK time clash involves another of those Davis Cup players, but Estrella played a couple of quick, easy matches and he comes here on a run of 12 wins from his last 13 matches in all competitions.
And he is also in good form against lefties, such as Berrer, lately, with seven wins from his last eight matches against the likes of Feli Lopez, Martin Klizan and Thomaz Bellucci among the vanquished.
Berrer is at the veteran stage of his career at 34-years-old now and he has a 5-13 record on hard courts overall, with a 2-4 mark here at Indian Wells.
The German is 3-11 versus top-60 ranked opponents in his last 14 and he doesn’t fit the profile of a player who should do well at Indian Wells, so I’m happy to chance Estrella’s fitness at a tempting 1.80 today.
As for long shots, Mikhail Youzhny and Robin Haase both have really poor records here, so could be worth taking on today, with each of them really struggling for form too.
Youzhny has won only one of his last eight matches at Indian Wells and that was back in 2008, so he hasn’t won here for seven years and he’s won just two of his last nine matches in all competitions.
His career series with Hanescu has been tight at 5-4 to the Russian and the Romanian should be able to use his height to aid his serve in conditions where he took Novak Djokovic to a tie break a year ago.
Backing Hanescu and Haase’s opponent Bolt to each win a set pays around 2.42 and with Haase holding a 2-5 record at Indian Wells, with one win since 2008 (against number 219 at the time John-Patrick Smith) it looks a decent odds-against shout.
Haase has lost all seven of his matches in 2015 and can’t be relishing this one at a venue he struggles at, while Bolt and Hanescu are both tuned to conditions coming from qualies this week.
Sure thing: Back Dolgopolov to beat Dancevic at 1.20
Value bet: Back Estrella to beat Berrer at 1.80
Long shot: Back Hanescu and Bolt both +1.5 sets in a double at 2.42