It was a long old day of tennis in Nice yesterday, as both of my bets (and one delayed from Monday) went to deciding sets. It was worth it in the end, though, as Juan Carlos Ferrero and Brian Baker emerged victorious from long battles to earn us a winning double.
Today’s matches in Nice and Dusseldorf feature plenty of short-priced favourites with the likes of John Isner, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Nico Almagro, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Carlos Berlocq all pretty much unbackable.
It’s a day to find a bit of value elsewhere. The first match that I like the look of for a bet on the overs is Steve Darcis v Filippo Volandri. Both players had tough three-set matches yesterday, are rather inconsistent, and are closely matched in many ways. Neither player packs much of a punch on serve, with Volandri possessing one of the feeblest deliveries on tour, so expect plenty of lengthy rallies in this first meeting between the pair.
Darcis had a good win over another Italian, Fabio Fognini, yesterday. That was his best victory of the clay swing so far, but it was only this third win in a completed match on clay this year.
Volandri has been much the busier of the two on the dirt this year, as you would expect from a player who plies his trade almost exclusively on the clay. He reached the final in Sao Paulo earlier in the year, beating David Nalbandian, Albert Montanes, and Thomaz Bellucci en route. But that was a while ago now and he’s not been in that kind of form lately.
Five out of Volandri’s last six matches have gone the full three sets and Darcis hasn’t won a complete match in less than 25 games since February, so the over 22.5 games at a price of 2.00 looks a good bet in this one.
A similar tactic looks attractive in the match on the Nice Centre Court between John Isner and Xavier Malisse.
Isner’s much vaunted clay court ability hasn’t been in evidence on tour lately, with losses to Marin Cilic in Madrid and Andreas Seppi in Rome. Indeed, he only defeated Kohlschreiber after a choke from the German in Italy. He’s been tipped up by all sort of people to do well at Roland Garros, but I can‘t see how he can last the fortnight when all of his wins take an absolute age to accomplish.
His last eight matches have been absolute battles, going well over today’s total games line of 22.5, so a match with a player that he’s never beaten today could see the trend continue.
Malisse is on the decline at the age of 31 but he has emerged victorious against Isner in their two previous meetings – one on clay and one on hard courts. That shows that he has an idea of how to return the Isner serve and their result on clay (7-6, 6-7, 7-6) highlights the sort of match this will probably be.
The Belgian hasn’t done much this clay season, aside from beating Florian Mayer and Grigor Dimitrov in Bucharest. I doubt he’d class clay as his favourite surface, but he should have the tools to push Isner close again today.
Back over 22.5 games in Darcis v Volandri at 2
Back over 22.5 games in Isner v Malisse at 1.87