It was one winner and an unfortunate loser from our two bets on the opening day of the 2012 BB&T Atlanta Open on Monday.
Jack Sock proved to be more than capable of pushing Alex Bogomolov Jr over the total games mark and indeed those who had a bit more faith in the young prospect would have landed themselves a very tasty winner. It was another disappointing early exit for Bogomolov Jr, who continued his sequence of defeats to lower ranked players. He now finds himself in a battle stay in the top 100 if he doesn’t have a good couple of months.
My second bet was looking good for the overs after the opening set between Gilles Muller and Marinko Matosevic went the way I predicted it would – to a tie break. Things were still going perfectly at 4-4 in the second set, with Matosevic just needing to hold serve for our bet to come in, but then the rain came in Atlanta. The match was suspended and when they came back Matosevic dropped serve, Muller held and that was that.
There were also defeats for Donald Young - who is on the same slippery slope as Bogomolov Jr - and a shock loss for Brian Baker, who was long odds-on against Igor Kunitsyn, but lost in three.
The opening match on Stadium Court today at around 9pm UK time is an intriguing clash between Go Soeda and Xavier Malisse, who are meeting for the first occasion in their careers.
Soeda is the higher ranked of the two players and has earned his position just outside the world’s top-50 by hoovering up Challengers around the world, mainly on hard courts. Lately, he’s been involved in the grass court swing with limited success and certainly not as much as today’s opponent, for whom the grass court season is of vital importance.
The fact that Malisse has had better results than Soeda in the last month or so may have skewed the odds in the Belgian’s favour in this tricky opening match. Malisse has won just three matches on outdoor hard all year and he didn’t win a single match in this North American hard court swing 12 months ago.
The X-Man lost in the first round in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, Cincinnati and New York, so at least he’s got no points to defend this time around. But at a price of around 1.58, I don’t think he represents good value. A better bet to my mind is the 1.60 about Soeda with a 1.5 set start on the handicap. I’d be very surprised if either player won this comfortably given the switch from grass to hard courts.
The second match on Stadium Court tonight features two American favourites at opposite ends of their careers - James Blake and Ryan Harrison. Blake is very much winding down and has things other than tennis to focus on these days, but he can still pack a punch when he wants to and is more than capable of winning a few rounds here this week.
He hasn’t played since Wimbledon, though, and hasn’t won a tour level match in 2012. Indeed, Blake’s last win of any note came last autumn in Stockholm when he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro on indoor hard.
Harrison will be eyeing a successful hard court season as he heads up the rankings towards the top-25. He should have too much for Blake today, but odds of 1.20 are far too low for what might be a tough match – at least early on.
Blake was only beaten by the likes of Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro and John Isner on hard courts 12 months ago (with the exception of a loss to Robin Haase in Winston-Salem) and he defeated Marcos Baghdatis and David Nalbandian. He still has plenty of ability at 32 years old.
The total games mark of 20.5 looks a little low to me in this one, so I’m going over at 1.87
Back Soeda +1.5 sets to beat Malisse at 1.60
Back over 20.5 games in Blake v Harrison at 1.87