Tuesday night was a frustrating one at the Citi Open in Washington DC for more reasons than one.
The lack of live pictures from the event is a major issue and it always amazes me that tournaments like this and other notables in North America fail to make the early round matches available for viewing.
It means we just have the bare stats to go on and they weren’t good for Grega Zemlja, who failed to save a single one of his five break points while failing to take five of the six he created against Tim Smyczek. That’s not a recipe for success and he lost in three.
The other bet was unlucky, as Sam Groth failed by a single game to land the overs against Milos Raonic, but he did win on the +4.5 game handicap that I didn’t take.
If the tournament deigns to allow any live streams tonight we might see our number one and two seeds Juan Martin Del Potro and Kei Nishikori in action as each take on young Americans.
Delpo’s first match is a potentially tricky one against Ryan Harrison, but I have little confidence in Harrison at the best of times, particularly against big servers like the Argentine. Delpo took care of Ryan at the US Open pretty easily last year and the best Harrison can hope for here is to keep it tight.
Kei faces the all out attack of Jack Sock and it’s hard to see Sock having anything like the consistency in his game to take down Nishikori, but that said it’s no gimme for Kei first up here.
Smyczek is in action again and should beaten this time by Tommy Haas, who is unlikely to make the same mistakes as Zemlja, while surely the most likely winner of the day at a backable price is Radek Stepanek at around 1.38 against Michael Llodra.
Steps is a former champion here from 2011 and he has a great record against Llodra of six wins to one defeat, while Llodra hasn’t won a single match here in three attempts. The Frenchman hasn’t been seen since pathetically walking off court at Wimbledon against Andreas Seppi claiming injury, only to turn up and play doubles a few hours later. If there was a side market on retiring in this match tonight I’d be all over Llodra, but there isn’t so I’ll take Stepanek minus 2.5 games on the handicap at 1.65.
Last week’s Atlanta finalists, John Isner and Kevin Anderson are both very short at 1.15 and Isner could well struggle after a long week, but is Alex Kuznetsov the man to take advantage? Probably not, but the handicap could be interesting there, as it also could be in the Anderson match.
It’s also worth taking a chance on Mardy Fish in a tournament he loves to beat Julien Benneteau at a backable 1.83, which is huge value on the stats. Of course, Fish’s absence from the tour and lack of match fitness is a leveller, hence the prices, but Benny has a poor record on North American hard courts other than one random final appearance in Winston-Salem in 2011 and he’s opposable tonight.
Back Stepanek -2.5 games to beat Llodra at 1.65
Back Fish to beat Benneteau at 1.83