Round one of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open completes at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Friday, with 16 ATP matches on the card for today, writes Sean Calvert...
Yesterday’s wagers began well with a comfortable win for Alejandro Falla before a strangely up and down performance from Denis Istomin allowed Radek Stepanek to record a very rare Indian Wells victory and Peter Polansky somehow failed to put away Juan Monaco, who again won a match that he should probably have lost.
Play starts at around 19.00 UK time, but those staying up late may find some value in one that begins at around 02.00 tomorrow.
Jarkko Nieminen 1.73, Daniel Brands 2.06 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 02.05 GMT
This looks a good opportunity for the Finn to get back on track after coming unstuck in the heat and humidity of Acapulco last week.
Jarkko admitted after a fairly emphatic defeat at the hands of fellow leftie Donald Young that he really struggles in the early stages of competition when conditions are humid and he won’t have that to worry about this week in the desert.
He faces out of form German Brands, who, after a solid start to his season in Doha,
Losses to the likes of Bradley Klahn, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Lukas Rosol make for worrying reading for Brands supporters and maybe he’s taking his time to get over a painful 16-14 final set loss in Melbourne to a half fit Gilles Simon.
Brands and Nieminen have met on one prior occasion, which was in quicker conditions indoors in Basel, and that resulted in a comfortable win for Jarkko, who has posted a 9-9 record over the years here at Indian Wells.
The German has a 1-1 record from his two matches here, but the formbook points to Nieminen – or perhaps more accurately, away from Brands – and the 1.73 about a Jarkko win looks decent.
Feliciano Lopez 1.55, Dudi Sela 2.35 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 22.35 GMT
It generally pays to take Lopez on at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, as his career record of 4-11 in this tournament shows and today’s opponent Sela will fancy his chances of an upset today.
The diminutive Israeli has a 4-3 record here, which isn’t at all bad, and he’s been in decent touch lately with wins over Lukas Rosol, Lukas Lacko (twice) and Alejandro Falla and he should have beaten John Isner in Delray Beach but blew a lead in the final set tie break.
Lopez has been in questionable health and fitness lately, with the trainer on court several times of late for undisclosed issues and if past performance is any guide I’d expect him to put in only a token effort in this mandatory event and head to Miami, where he has a much better record.
I’m torn between the +1.5 sets on Sela at 1.50 or the over 22.5 total games at 1.78. The outright on Sela also appeals at 2.35, but he has clearly come in for support overnight, as his price has been clipped in today.
There are some very trappy-looking matches on the schedule on Friday and I’ve changed my mind a bit on backing Mikhail Kukushkin, who now looks a little short at 1.50 against Sam Groth after opening at around 1.65.
Nikolay Davydenko could be a vulnerable favourite at a short-looking 1.32 against Michal Przysiezny after pulling out of Dubai with a rib injury, but the Pole’s form lately has been poor and he has only one match win this year to his name.
Back Nieminen to beat Brands at 1.73
Back over 22.5 games in Sela/Lopez at 1.78