The early action in Valencia and Basel continues on Tuesday, with more first and second round matches from this week’s ATP 500 tournaments.
Yesterday’s wagers went one from two, with Jerzy Janowicz just about sneaking home in straight sets against a determined but outgunned Pablo Carreno-Busta, who was unable to deal with the pace coming at him from the Pole. JJ almost gave it away though, as he committed far too many loose errors and was a shade fortunate to win in two in the end.
In my other bet Mikhail Youzhny did come through against Bernard Tomic, who decided that he had a headache and had to retire in the third set, which may or may not be anything to do with his 21 birthday the night before. Either way my 2-0 Youzhny bet was foiled by a slow start from the Russian, who dropped the opening set.
The action begins in Spain at 11am UK time, with a potentially rewarding clash between two of the game’s big servers on a day where many of the matches are priced up to go either way.
John Isner vs Ernests Gulbis (starts at 11.05 BST)
It’s always worth taking on John Isner in Europe and I’m doing so again here in this third career meeting between the pair.
Isner has a losing career record in Europe and a 5-8 mark in Spain, where the big man has lost seven of his last nine matches and to the likes of David Goffin, Pablo Andujar and Sergiy Stakhovsky to name but three.
He has only once beaten a player ranked at the time inside the top-40 when in Spain and that was against his buddy Mardy Fish in Madrid back in 2011. Today he faces the 25ranked player in the world in Gulbis, who has won their previous two encounters.
Isner was beaten by Goffin here in Valencia last year and yet again he had a poor Asian swing, losing to Carlos Berlocq in straight sets on outdoor hard in Shanghai and struggling through the three wins against lower ranked opposition in the ones he did manage to emerge victorious from.
Ernie should have done better (how many times have I written that) last week in Stockholm when he let a set lead slip against David Ferrer and he still flatters to deceive, but this is very winnable and the 1.65 seems fair to me.
Other matches of interest in Valencia include Marcel Granollers in a tournament he loves up against Fabio Fognini, who loves nothing more than a damn good tank, but 1.60 is a touch short about the Spaniard if Fogna does decide to turn up.
Paul Henri Mathieu vs Denis Kudla (starts at 13.05 BST)
I’m going against another American and this time in Basel, with Mathieu having what looks a fine opportunity to progress at a tournament he’s done well at in the past.
Mathieu has to do well this week after making the semi finals here 12 months ago and with big points to defend and not far from home the Frenchman’s desire should be too much for the likely homesick American, who was awful last week in Moscow.
Paulo has a good record in Switzerland and he’s sure to have saved himself for this after retiring last week in Stockholm qualies citing a wrist problem, which can’t have been too bad, as he was back playing a matter of days later.
Kudla has an OK record in Europe, which is slightly surprising, but he’ll surely be ready for home in what will probably be his last tournament of the year and the 1.65 about Mathieu is worth taking.
Pretty much all of the other matches in Basel are close calls, with Kei Nishikori a decent choice over a tired-looking Ivan Dodig and the only exception being Juan Martin Del Potro, who should have an easy day against Henri Laaksonen.
Yesterday’s play, where Gilles Simon was beaten 6-1, 6-0 by Alejandro Falla, who himself was beaten easily by a retired player last week and losses for Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka and more retirements highlight what we’re up against at this time of year.
Back Gulbis to beat Isner at 1.65
Back Mathieu to beat Kudla at 1.65