It was another lucrative day at the Mutua Madrid Masters on Wednesday as both of my tips were successful in the men’s singles (boasting as much is a neccesity!) John Isner and Marin Cilic played out two tie break sets to ease past the overs mark, while Roger Federer and Milos Raonic went well past their overs mark and earned us a second winner on the day.
Thursday at the Caja Magica sees the start of the men’s third round matches, and despite the disquiet about the court surface, there should be some more classic encounters today. World number two Rafa Nadal, who has reportedly been wearing his grass court shoes here this week to cope with the slippery conditions, takes on Madrid local Fernando Verdasco after having another dig at the conditions here yesterday. And Novak Djokovic, who described the conditions as ‘impossible’ has what could be a tricky match against another critic of the courts in Stan Wawrinka.
In normal circumstances you would expect Rafa and Nole to win, but the way things have gone this week it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a shock. Wawrinka has lost his last eight matches in a row against top-10 opposition, though, and Verdasco has lost 14 in a row against Nadal, so it’s hard to make a real case for either - other than the dodgy surface. I dohave a feeling that Stan could step up today, but I'd want a bigger price than 3.8.
A better bet is to side with Alexandr Dolgopolov to cause Jo-Wilfried Tsonga some problems in the first match on Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Court at 12 noon UK time. It usually pays to back against Tsonga on clay and although it’s quick here in Madrid, I still think that the Frenchman is vulnerable against such an awkward opponent and one he’s had trouble with before in the shape of Dolgo.
The wildly inconsistent Ukrainian beat Tsonga twice last year and is 2-2 in career meetings with the world number five, but they are yet to play each other on the clay. And on this stuff I can foresee Dolgo’s annoying dinks and slices causing Tsonga all sorts of problems with balance. It’s always a risk backing Dolgopolov so rather than taking the 2.45 about him winning, he’s likely to grab at least a set, so the 1.6 about Dolgo +1.5 sets on the handicap looks the call in this one.
With plenty of short priced favourites around it’s tough to find any real value today, but I’m going to take another chance and side with Nico Almagro to trouble David Ferrer when they meet on Arantxa Sanchez Vicario Court this evening. Ferrer has a perfect record of 9-0 versus the occasionally wayward Almagro, but the latter has looked up for it this week after appearing out of sorts in the last month or so. The world number six doesn’t have the best record in Madrid and I don’t think he enjoys conditions here as much as at other clay events.
Despite beating Radek Stepanek in straight sets yesterday, he did struggle early on and should have lost the opening set against the veteran Czech. Almagro will be rewarded in these conditions for going for his shots and he has pushed Ferrer very close in two of their last four meetings (all on clay), so it’s worth chancing the 1.87 that he can take this over the 21.5 games mark. If his radar is on he could even grab the win today.
Of today’s shorter priced favourites, Gilles Simon and Tomas Berdych are worth considering in a double at 1.47 and 1.37 to take out Janko Tipsarevic and Gael Monfils respectively.
Recommended Bets: Back Dolgopolov to beat Tsonga +1.5 sets at 1.6; and Back over 21.5 games in Almagro v Ferrer at 1.87