The 2014 Shanghai Rolex Masters continues its opening round stages on Tuesday at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre, with 14 matches on the schedule.
We started the week in good style on Monday, with a nice odds-against success in the set one overs in the Ivo Karlovic/Marin Cilic encounter, which the veteran ended up winning in a final set tie breaker.
The opening set went to 12 games, which is all that concerns us and on Tuesday we start at around 06:00 UK time, with the weather set to be around 23C at 55 percent humidity.
Ernests Gulbis vs Mikhail Youzhny
This one is purely based on the injured shoulder that Gulbis has, rather than any signs of life from his opponent, who has had a shocking season by his standards.
Youzhny has struggled in 2014 pretty much from the get go and has a 13-20 record so far in a campaign that has seen him slip down to number 33 in the rankings.
He also has a poor record in this tournament, but then again, Gulbis has no sort of form to speak of in Asia either and at 2.55 it’s worth chancing the Russian, with Ernie’s shoulder in a poor way.
The Latvian was unable to complete his match with Martin Klizan in Beijing last week because of it and reports say that he’s still struggling in practice this week.
Neither of these two players has ever won a match at this tournament, so something’s got to give and it might be Ernie’s body.
With Gulbis relying fairly heavily on his serve a shoulder injury will be a major problem for his game and it could be a good opportunity for Youzhny to get his season back on track somewhat.
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Feliciano Lopez
This is another match where there’s a physical doubt over the favourite and again it’s worth chancing that the bad back that Lopez had last week in Beijing is still an issue for the Spaniard.
Tomas Berdych took full advantage of Lopez’s ailments last week and ran out a very comfortable winner and Kokkinakis has a shot of making this a more competitive affair than his price of 2.60 suggests.
The Aussie has qualified here with wins over Federico Delbonis and Maximo Gonzalez, so he’ll be very much in tune with conditions and the 18-year-old can use that to his advantage by taking the first set at 2.55.
Lopez has struggled since making the semi finals in Toronto and I certainly wouldn’t be putting much on Feli at 1.40 here.
I’m not too sure that I trust Kokkinakis to see this through, so the best option seems to be to back him early on.
Elsewhere, Ivan Dodig and Pablo Cuevas reprise their hilarious meeting of a couple of weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur and the quicker courts should allow Dodig to get some revenge there.
The Chinese players have poor records here, which might help Leo Mayer to actually get a win on Asian soil for the first time in his career, while Julien Benneteau can shake off the funk of that KL loss also.
Back Youzhny to beat Gulbis at 2.55
Back Kokkinakis to win set one vs Lopez at 2.55