Guillaume Rufin rewarded my faith in him on Thursday by defeating Marius Copil at the Sony Open, landing a nice odds-against winner. As we head into Friday at Key Biscayne there are a couple of underdogs that I like the look of: James Blake at 2.20 against Julien Benneteau and Fabio Fognini at 1.96 against Michael Llodra.
Blake can still play to a decent level when he has the big stage and he proved it again by thrashing Ryan Harrison in the opening round here. The 33-year-old always plays his best tennis in America and he has the weapons to cause Benneteau problems, as he did when he defeated the Frenchman in straight sets here back in 2009.
Benny has a poor recent record in Miami and he was really disappointing at Indian Wells last time out, losing dismally in straight sets to Ivan Dodig in slow conditions. I’m happy to take a chance on Blake at odds-against in this one.
Llodra can count himself fortunate to be in the second round after another meltdown by Benoit Paire in their feisty first round encounter, and the slowness of these Miami courts gives Fognini a good chance of causing an upset. Fogna gave a good account of himself at Indian Wells, where he defeated Aljaz Bedene and took a set off Novak Djokovic. He’s only lost to the Serb and David Ferrer (twice) in his last three tournaments.
The Italian has beaten Llodra on clay and grass in their last two meetings and the Frenchman’s awful record here suggests that he’ll be ready to go home after today’s match.
Back Blake to beat Benneteau at 2.20
Back Fognini to beat Llodra at 1.96