Wednesday didn’t get off to the best of starts in Tokyo for those awake in the early hours to support Grigor Dimitrov in his match with Juan Monaco.
It certainly appears that the crushing loss from a seemingly unassailable position against Richard Gasquet in Bangkok has had a psychological effect on the young Bulgarian, whose resistance crumbled tamely against Monaco.
It was certainly a very disappointing loss, but there was better news later as Stan Wawrinka, despite wasting match points for a straight sets win, eventually came through against Jeremy Chardy.
That was the first leg of my double, the second leg of which will now be played in the early hours of tomorrow morning on Court 1 between Milos Raonic and Viktor Troicki.
Elsewhere in Japan on Thursday it looks a day for the favourites, as it was 12 months ago in Tokyo when seven of the eight second round favourites won. The only exception was Dmitry Tursunov, who coincidentally looks the most vulnerable odds-on shot again this time around.
The Russian has been in fine form so far this week and he remains dangerous if he stays injury-free, but I wouldn’t trust him at 1.43 against Tatsuma Ito, who knocked out another player with some heavy ground strokes in Nico Almagro in the last round.
Tursunov hasn’t been past the second round of any tour level tournament since Moscow in 2011, which means he has failed to do so in his last 14 tour level events. He’s never played Ito before and Almagro was only able to break the Japanese player once, so Tursunov should also struggle in that department, not being the best returner on tour.
The Russian hasn’t dropped a set all week and I can’t see that trend continuing, so I’ll be on the 1.95 about this match going over the 22.5 total games mark with Ito enjoying the home crowd support.
Of the odds-on favourites in Tokyo, Kei Nishikori looks the one most worth adding to accumulators to me, playing in front of his home crowd and facing an opponent who has really struggled with injury for a long time now.
Tommy Robredo can still show flashes of his old self, but at 30 years of age and plagued by injury it would be a shock if he defeated Nishikori on his home turf today.
In Beijing I’m tempted by Yen Hsun Lu at 2.80 against Lopez, as he does have a very good record against lefties, but his record in surprisingly poor in this part of the world other than the famous win over Andy Murray here in the 2008 Olympics.
So, a more solid-looking wager should come in the form of Mikhail Youzhny, who looks good at 1.55 against Kevin Anderson on the Lotus Court at around 5.30am UK time. The big South African, Anderson, has managed just two wins in his last 14 matches against top-50 opponents and has endured a generally poor year, as those stats suggest.
Since winning Delray Beach in the spring he’s done nothing on hard courts, which are his bread and butter surface, and he’s managed just five wins on the surface since that title run in Florida. Youzhny came through a real test in the first round here against Tommy Haas and he was able to take down Anderson in straight sets when they faced each other in Canada a few months ago.
The Russian has a 60% win ratio over the last year against guys of 6’4” height and above and on all recent form everything points to a Youzhny win today.
Back over 22.5 games in Ito vs Tursunov at 1.95
Back Youzhny to beat Anderson at 1.55