It was the perfect start to the week at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Monday morning, as all three of my wagers were successful. Tommy Robredo got the ball rolling with a straight sets win over Alex Bogomolov Jr, before Kevin Anderson did the same to Jarkko Nieminen and Tommy Haas rounded the day off with a spectacular comeback win over Nico Almagro.
Day two in Shanghai sees the first round matches continue in the penultimate Masters 1000 tournament of the 2012 season. Over the three previous stagings of this tournament. there were 17 of 24 winning first round favourites in 2011, 15 of 24 in 2010 and 18 of 24 in 2009. On day one this year there were no shocks and it was a good day for punters with every favourite winning with the exception of Almagro, who was narrow favourite over Haas.
Tueday’s matches look trickier to call and outsiders to add to the shortlist today include Ze Zhang, Kevin Anderson, Alejandro Falla and perhaps even Di Wu. The latter is an absolute long shot against Kei Nishikori, but I
wouldn’t trust Kei's physical wellbeing after a draining run to the Tokyo title last week, which is sure to have exhausted him emotionally too.
Zhang has a real chance against Yen Hsun Lu though on the form he showed in beating Richard Gasquet in Beijing, and a repeat of that showing could cause Lu, who hasn’t been in great form, some problems. Lu has only ever won one match in the main draw in Shanghai and coincidentally that was against Wu, although Zhang is yet to win in the three matches he’s contested in Shanghai.
But his form in Beijing, where he also had his chances against Florian Mayer (one from 11 on break points) certainly gives him a shot against Lu, who hasn’t made it past the second round of a tour level hard court
event since the Australian Open. Zhang is priced up at around 3.0 for the win, which is an option, but I’m more confident that he’ll take at least one set. The 22-year-old can be backed at 1.80 with a 1.5 set start on the handicap.
Anderson was pretty solid in his win over Jarkko Nieminen and if he continues in that manner he can cause John Isner problems, as he has done in winning three of the pair’s six career meetings. Big John has only ever won one match in Shanghai: a final set tie break victory over Lukasz Kubot two years ago. It’s asking a lot for him to come here, acclimatize to the conditions in his first match on a hard court since New York and take out Anderson, who has the advantage of having played here already.
The overs could also be an option in this match, with five of their six meetings involving at least one tie break, but I’m going for an Anderson win at a tempting 2.80
Falla is another option against Feli Lopez, who limped out of Beijing with a knee injury that could easily have been 'suffered' with one eye on this tournament, where the Spaniard has big points to defend after reaching the last four in 2011.
As for the favourites today, I doubt I’ll ever get involved in another Denis Istomin match, so I’ll be avoiding him at 1.37 against Carlos Berlocq and similarly Bernard Tomic against Florian Mayer could go either way. I would rate Marcos Baghdatis and Juan Monaco as the most solid-looking of the reasonably priced favourites today.
Back Anderson at 2.80 to beat Isner
Back Zhang +1.5 sets to beat Lu at 1.80