Wednesday was another good day at the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open, with my best bet proving to be a successful one. Kei Nishikori didn’t do things the easy way against Viktor Troicki, so it was fortunate that Troicki has a nasty habit of blowing leads. He led 5-2 and held several set points before dropping five games in a row and with it the opening set. The Serbian went on to lose 11 games from 13 to slump to defeat and record a winner for this column. My other suggestions - Jerzy Janowicz with a set start, Benoit Paire +7.5 games - also proved astute.
Thursday’s ATP play at La Caja Magica begins at 1pm with Tomas Berdych taking on Kevin Anderson in a match that I think might well be close. Anderson has improved a lot on clay of late and beat Monaco yesterday. If that hasn’t taken too much out of him he could well test Berdych.
The pair had a tough battle on the dirt at Roland Garros last year that Berdych edged in the fifth set and this could go the distance again today. The Czech has won all six of their meetings and should come through, but I doubt it will be comfortably and the Anderson +3.5 games on the handicap appeals.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver also has a decent chance as underdog against Pablo Andujar despite the head-to-head being in Andujar’s favour. These quick conditions favour the shot maker and DGT is certainly that. Rafa Nadal will need to step it up from yesterday’s showing if he’s going to beat Mikhail Youzhny comfortably, while Roger Federer should have too much for Kei Nishikori on this surface.
But I’ll take a chance on the fitness of Tommy Haas, who’s in excellent form and looks likely to take at least a set from David Ferrer in their meeting today. Haas had a bit of a meltdown against Tommy Robredo yesterday to remind us all of the old Tommy, but he regrouped well to take down the Spaniard. Although he faces a tough task today, Ferrer has been scratchy of late.
The Spaniard hasn’t beaten anyone of note since defeating Haas in the Miami semi-finals and the German could return to the top 10 in the rankings with a couple more wins here this week. I expect Ferrer to grind it out in the end and the 2-1 Ferrer win appeals at 3.85, but the Haas +1.5 sets is the bet at around 1.62
Best bet: Back Haas +1.5 sets to beat Ferrer at 1.62