Kevin Anderson made sure that Tuesday was a winning day at the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters with a straight sets victory over Jerzy Janowicz.
The match was played on a non-televised court, which made it interesting to follow and Anderson did well to overturn a 5-4 with a break deficit to take the opener, before edging the second set breaker for the win.
Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Country Club sees Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray enter the fray. All three have matches where it would be a shock if their respective opponents were able to muster a set.
Mikhail Youzhny has a pretty good record against Djokovic, but they haven’t played for three years and with the state of Novak’s ankle an unknown quantity, that looks one to avoid.
But one favourite who may be priced up a little too short is Milos Raonic, whose win over the out of form Julien Benneteau may not be as good as it seems.
The Canadian had a draining time in Davis Cup over in Canada and he looked to be under the weather in that match with Benneteau, which on top of his hit and miss clay record, leads me to side with opponent Jarko Nieminen.
The Finn is no clay court specialist himself, but he did beat Raonic on the Canadian’s favourite surface of indoor hard at the end of last year and he’ll be confident too after a comfortable opening win over Viktor Troicki.
Raonic has lost nine of his last 14 matches against left handers and 1.36 is too short with all things considered. Nieminen has a great chance on the handicap with a 3.5 game start at 1.68.
There’s a couple of very tight-looking clashes on the schedule, such as Fabio Fognini vs Albert Ramos and Florian Mayer vs Roberto Bautista-Agut. For me, Fognini is just a bit short at 1.65 against an opponent he’s lost all three encounters against.
Bautista-Agut is a better bet at 1.70 against the wildly inconsistent Mayer, who needed three sets to beat local wild card Benjamin Balleret and who has won just two of his last 14 matches against top-100 ranked players.
It’s also worth investing in a double on Wednesday, which comprises Marin Cilic and Nico Almagro to beat Anderson and Jurgen Melzer respectively and pays around 1.75.
Cilic is far more at home on the clay than Anderson and although the South African has made big strides on the dirt I doubt he’ll be up to the task of beating the Croatian on this surface at the moment.
Melzer has been awful on the clay for a long time now and has won just two of his last 11 against top-50 ranked opponents on the dirt.
Almagro thrashed the Austrian in Davis Cup on the clay in their most recent meeting and if he’s not too fatigued after Houston last week he should come through this one comfortably.
Back Nieminen +3.5 games to beat Raonic at 1.68
Back Cilic and Almagro in a double at 1.75
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