Day two of the tournaments in Japan and China features a host of the game's top stars, including a first appearance since New York for US Open champion, Andy Murray. However, Murray will not be facing his scheduled opponent, Gael Monfils, who withdrew from the tournament due to a recurrence of the knee problem that has plagued him this year.
Monfils certainly looked to be struggling when he offered minimal resistance to Gilles Simon in Bangkok last week and early concerns that the knee issue had flared up again proved to be well founded. At the time of writing it appears that Murray may play lucky loser Ivo Karlovic instead of Monfils in Tokyo.
Some matches that hopefully will take place in Tokyo on Tuesday include the all-Japanese clash between Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda, along with Milos Raonic vs Radek Stepanek and Dmitry Tursunov vs Bernard Tomic.
Nishikori’s clash with Soeda would perhaps have been a potential banana skin for the Japanese number one after his straight sets thrashing by Soeda a few months ago, but the latter has never won a match in Tokyo and has a 0-7 record at the tournament.
Other Japansese players in action today include Tatsuma Ito, who has a chance against Nico Almagro, and Yuichi Sugita.
Sugita can’t be discounted against Jeremy Chardy at a big price. The Frenchman isn’t a regular visitor to China and Japan, having played each tournament only once in his career, recording just the one win in the process. Had Sugita not retired with an ankle injury in Bangkok last week, he may well have been a tempting wager today. The retirement may have been precautionary of course, so if you fancy a big priced punt today that looks the one to take a flyer on at a price of around 3.80.
A more solid-looking wager – if one can ever use that term in relation to Bernard Tomic – is to back the Aussie at 1.50 to beat Russian journeyman Dmitry Tursunov. Tomic showed flashes of brilliance last week and anything like a repeat of his improved attitude will surely precipitate a routine win over Tursunov. Despite being in good form on the Challenger circuit lately, the latter has done little at tour level for a while now.
The hard hitting Russian has lost his last nine matches in a row against top-50 ranked opposition and despite some decent efforts in qualifying in Tokyo I can’t see a focused Tomic losing this one.
Over in Beijing, Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer all make appearances today, but arguably the men’s match of the day takes place on the Lotus Court, where Tommy Haas meets Mikhail Youzhny. This clash of the single-handed backhands should be one for the purists, with plenty of sweetly struck winners to marvel over, but from a betting perspective I’m expecting a tight contest.
Haas will be playing his first match since the US Open, which will mean he’ll be a little rusty. After a very busy summer of matches to get him back inside the top-25 in the rankings I’m not so sure how much he’ll have left in those 34-year-old legs for this part of the season.
The German has only ever played two tour matches in China and he retired in one of those, so I’m a bit skeptical of his commitment at this stage of the year. He does lead Youzhny 3-2 in the head-to-heads, but they haven’t played since 2008 and much has happened to both players since then.
Youzhny was last seen somehow losing to Martin Klizan from a winning position in St Petersburg, but he does have a better record in the far east, with a final in Tokyo to his name. I think the value lies with Youzhny at 2.25 in this, but I don’t trust him to finish the job, so the over 22.5 games will be my wager in this one.
Back Tomic to beat Tursunov at 1.50
Back over 22.5 games in Haas vs Youzhny at 1.87