Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka head the cast list on day two of the 2015 Australian Open on Tuesday, with the remaining 32 first round matches on the card at Melbourne Park.
Day one in Melbourne certainly wasn’t the start I had anticipated to the first major of the season, with one void, one tough five set loss, and a heavy defeat to kick off the fortnight.
Tommy Robredo’s injury turned out to be enough for the Spaniard to retire, but there were few problems for those who went with the alternative treble of Richard Gasquet, David Goffin and Bernard Tomic instead.
Teimuraz Gabashvili led Marcos Baghdatis 2-1 and looked all over the winner before the Cypriot found something late on and won it in five, while Victor Estrella Burgos failed to strike a blow against Jurgen Melzer, which was very disappointing.
Gilles Simon vs Robin Haase
There are a few more viable ‘sure things’ around on Tuesday than there were on Monday, with the likes of Adrian Mannarino, John Isner, Lleyton Hewitt, Steve Johnson and Ivan Dodig all under consideration, but instead I like Simon.
The Frenchman faces an opponent who has been struggling badly with fitness this season so far and was sick in Chennai before a retirement loss to world number 271 Jules Marie in Auckland last week.
I would imagine that the last opponent you would fancy meeting in round one (other than Djokovic et al) would be human backboard Simon, who will make Haase play far more gruelling rallies than he’d like and it would be remarkable if the Dutchman came out on top.
Gillou has won his last two against Haase, with one even coming on grass, which has never been the Frenchman’s best surface, and even a fit Haase would struggle with this match-up.
Assuming Simon is fit – and one can never be quite sure – a comfortable passage to round two looks likely.
Lucas Pouille vs Gael Monfils
It could be a different story for another Frenchman at around the same price as Simon when Monfils plays his first match of the season against a fellow countryman that should be in prime form.
Pouille was fortunate to get a lucky loser’s spot in Auckland, but he made the most of it by reaching the semi finals and he wasn’t far away from making the final of that tournament in a tight loss to Mannarino.
In contrast, Monfils hasn’t played competitively since November and Lamonf is coming out with all the usual negative comments at the moment, which you can either take on board or ignore totally.
The issue this time seems to be some sort of injury from a fall (what are the chances?) and added to that he says he has “some personal problems”, according to L’Equipe.
We get this rather a lot from Monfils and often he turns out just fine, but more of a concern for me is the lack of match practice coming up against a match-tight opponent who has a lot of ability.
Pouille showed that in abundance when making the last-16 of the Paris Masters in October when he defeated Steve Johnson, Jarkko Nieminen, Ivo Karlovic and Fabio Fognini before losing out to Roger Federer.
Admittedly, that end of season event may not have found some of those opponents at their most competitive, but Pouille won’t care and he can cause problems for a rusty Monfils here.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs Peter Gojowczyk
There are a few betting underdogs on Tuesday that appeal and GGL is one such wager against German Gojowczyk, who’s looking for his first win in the main draw of the Australian Open.
GGL is a tricky one to win with, as he can lurch somewhere between superb and awful, but he does like playing here and under the guidance of a new coach this season I’m expecting him to win this one as underdog.
The Spaniard enjoys this tournament and hopefully he’ll be looking to impress José Luis Aparicio with a better attitude than we’ve often seen from him in the past and an event that he enjoys should be a good place to start.
Gojowczyk – like GGL – can be excellent on his day, but he’s won only one of his last five against top-50 opponents and that was against Ivo Karlovic, who hit the wall at 5-2 up and lost the final five games of that particular match.
The prices look the wrong way round for me and there’s some value on GGL here.
Sure thing: Back Simon to beat Haase at 1.22
Value bet: Back Garcia-Lopez to beat Gojowczyk at 1.92
Long shot: Back Pouille to beat Monfils at 4.50