The ATP Tour moves from grass to hard courts this week in North America, as the 2012 US Open Series begins.
The first tournament for the men on their route to New York and the US Open is the BB&T Atlanta Open, an ATP 250 event that is still in its infancy after taking over from the former event in Indianapolis.
And unusually, today’s first round matches feature a host of players who are meeting for the first time in their careers, which makes things a little harder for punters, but there are a couple of wagers that look worth taking on today.
First up, young Jack Sock has the game to extend the miserable run of form of Alex Bogomolov Jr when they meet on Stadium Court at around 9pm UK time tonight.
The American-turned-Russian has had a shocker of a year so far, losing 17 of his last 19 matches against top-100 ranked opponents and the highest ranked player he’s beaten since January is world number 60 Martin Klizan at Queen’s Club last month. He’s fared no better in 2012 on his preferred hard court surface, where he’s only made it past the second round of any tournament since Sydney in the opening week of the season.
Sock is still pretty raw, but he’s highly rated with a big game that’s suited to hard courts and now that he’s on the comeback trail after abdominal surgery he could cause a problem or two for Bogomolov Jr.
The world number 50 should have enough experience to eventually come through this match, but I wouldn’t be rushing to add him to any accumulators today at a price of around 1.40. This one could go the full distance given Bogomolov Jr’s lack of match wins recently (he’s lost his last four in a row) and I think a sensible play in this is to back the overs at a mark of 21.5 at a price of 1.82
Another match that I suspect will go long is the clash between Gilles Muller and Marinko Matosevic. This is another of those matches today with no previous form to go on and it’s a close call to pick a winner, but the serving prowess of both players will most likely lead to at least one tie breaker.
Muller reached the semi-finals here in Atlanta last year after a good run that saw victories over Bogomolov Jr, Robby Ginepri and most impressively Kevin Anderson, so this is a venue that he will enjoy coming back to.
The left hander from Luxembourg went on to enjoy a good hard court swing 12 months ago and he’ll be hoping for a repeat this year after a run of the mill 2012 so far. Muller would have been expecting better than just three wins from his entire grass court campaign this year and a return to the North American hard courts should suit him.
It should also suit Matosevic, who had some excellent hard court results earlier in the year, most notably when he reached the final of Delray Beach in Los Angeles in the spring. He also won a couple of Challengers on hard earlier in the year and had a decent run on the grass at Eastbourne recently, but he hasn’t won a match since and both players come into this on losing runs.
Matosevic has a good record against left handers with 19 wins and seven losses and I expect these two to play out a tight tussle with over 23.5 games at 1.90 looking the bet.
Back over 21.5 games in Bogomolov Jr v Sock at 1.82
Back over 23.5 games in Matosevic v Muller at 1.90