Sanity was restored at the Farmers Classic on Wednesday with my best bet and other match predictions proving correct. Rajeev Ram easily defeated Paul Capdeville to make it a great start to the day, with a 6-3, 6-1 victory in which he didn’t face a break point and served superbly.
I said yesterday that I was leaving the Leonardo Mayer and Flavio Cipolla match well alone, as it would be just like Cipolla to follow up a great win over Jack Sock with a just as comfortable defeat - and so it proved. The Italian outdid himself with a 0-6, 0-4 (retired) loss and claimed that a neck injury prevented him from carrrying on for the five minutes or so that would have seen him on the receiving end of the dreaded double bagel.
In the day’s final singles match Sam Querrey won as expected against Igor Sijsling, who was outclassed 6-2, 6-2 by the American in Big Sam’s opening match of his home tournament.
Over in Kitzbuhel, the rain delayed the match between Phillip Kohlschreiber and Atilla Balazs, but the Hungarian is now favourite after jumping out to a 3-0 lead and surely the German will be even more likely to pack up his bags and leave for London after a day's delay.
There’s much more to go at today in Los Angeles and in the first two matches I’d give the underdogs a chance. Xavier Malisse has no form at all on hard courts of late and is vulnerable at 1.58 against Matt Ebden, while Nicolas Mahut struggled enormously in beating Paolo Lorenzi on the Frenchman’s favourite surface at Wimbledon.
The 1.33 about Mahut winning on outdoor hard seems a bit skinny to me, but a bet I prefer is for Michael Russell to take down another Frenchman and our number one seed this week, Benoit Paire. The contrasting attitudes of these players should make for a very entertaining clash of styles, with the flashy Paire against the dogged hard work of Russell. On the American’s home turf I fancy him to come out on top.
Paire hasn’t played that many matches on hard courts in his career - just 25 at tour level - and this is his first go at the US Open Series. He has played the US Open tournament itself a couple of times, but he doesn’t usually bother with a warm up spell on the North American hard courts.
As his ranking is much higher this year he’s giving it a go, but he could run into trouble if he brings out his usual array of drop shots and hot dogs against an experienced hard court grinder like Russell. Paire hasn’t played a match on hard since the spring and with Russell in good nick after beating Kevin Anderson in Atlanta, this one could go the way of the grinder at a price of 1.82
The other one I fancy today is for Ricardas Berankis to beat Igor Andeev at a price of around 1.75. Andreev came through a match against Dudi Sela in the first round in which his price dropped dramatically pre-game, but there wasn’t much in it in the end.
He has been effective on hard courts in the past, but recent form on the surface has been poor; that win was just his second in the main draw of a tour level event in 2012. You need to go all the way back to New Haven in 2009 for the last time that Andreev made it past the third round of a tour level hard court tournament and Winston Salem 2011 was the only time in that period that he made it past the second round.
Berankis looks like he’s getting back to the kind of level we know he can produce after a spell out with injury. Although he lost to Andreev on hard in Sydney back in 2011 he has the game to turn that record around tonight. We know Andreev is all forehand and pretty much nothing else and Berankis has enough about him to keep it away from that weapon on this surface for long enough to create the chances to send the Russian packing.
Back Russell to beat Paire at 1.82
Back Berankis to beat Andreev at 1.75