We managed to turn things around in Metz and St Petersburg last week, and yesterday Martin Klizan did the business for us in Russia. The Slovakian lefty came up with the straight sets victory in the St Petersburg final for a winner on Sunday, but unfortunately Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in no mood to hang around and dismissed Andreas Seppi too quickly.
The ATP Tour moves on to the Asian swing from today, which means plenty of early mornings (or late nights) for us punters as the action begins in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Both are indoor ATP 250 events and there will be plenty of huge odds-against local wild cards looking to make a name for themselves against more established players from Europe.
One such example of this is the match between Philipp Petzschner and Perakiat Siriluethaiwattana in Bangkok, which takes place at lunchtime UK time today. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Siriluethaiwattana, but Petzschner at 1.08 is surely an indication of his level. Looking at the Thai’s results on the ATP Tour - of which there aren’t many - he looks unlikely to take a set from the German, who is 1.27 to win this one 2-0.
While Petzschner shouldn’t have any problems dismissing Siriluethaiwattana in comfortable fashion, his doubles partner Jurgen Melzer faces a far trickier task over in Kuala Lumpur, where he takes on big serving Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
Melzer should win this, but his only real form this year has come indoors, where he won the title in Memphis and reached the last eight as a qualifier in Zagreb. The Austrian has done nothing since, going on a run of 6-16 since Memphis and after a brief flirtation with the top-10 last season, looks on the slide now at the age of 31.
I also have a bit of a rule about not backing players who have recently had something big occur off court and Melzer got married last week to WTA player Iveta Benesova. I can’t imagine they’ve been spending time diligently preparing Melzer for a tilt at the Kuala Lumpur title. Indeed, Melzer’s record at this time of the year isn’t great and in the form that he’s showed recently I would suggest that he must have one eye on life after tennis at the moment. Pospisil is still quite raw and his results patchy, but he can cause problems to good players – he beat Seppi in Toronto recently.
This match is largely about Melzer’s attitude and I can’t see him really being too fussed about this tournament, so I’m siding with the over 22.5 games wager at a price of 1.80. Melzer has won just two matches in straight sets since that Memphis title and it would be surprising if he got the job done quickly against a capable opponent today.
The final match of the day in Kuala Lumpur today is between two Americans, Brian Baker and Michael Yani, who are playing each other on the ATP Tour for the first time. There can’t be many who don’t know the Baker resurgence story by now and it would be a surprise if he was beaten by journeyman Yani.
Yani, who at 31 is eeking the last knockings out of a pretty average tennis career, is at least acclimatised to the conditions after playing a Challenger in Shanghai a couple of weeks ago. But he hasn’t gone past the first round of a tour level event since a shock run to the semi-final of Newport on grass last year and his level is Challengers.
Baker might take a while to get to grips with the conditions, as he hasn’t played an indoor match since Memphis, but he is the far classier player at his best and should be winning a match like this. Baker at 1.25 can be doubled with Petzschner to win 2-0, which will pay 1.59
Back over 22.5 games in Melzer vs Pospisil at 1.80
Back Petzschner 2-0 and Baker in a double at 1.59