The third round of matches in the French Open begins in Paris on Friday after another weird and not so wonderful day of tennis betting in the second major of 2015.
Thursday began nicely when Marin Cilic defeated Andrea Arnaboldi in the manner I expected, with the Italian fading towards the end after a marathon round one match and the Croatian finished it in under the total games figure.
That set up world number one Novak Djokovic to complete our long shot double by beating Gilles Muller by 9.5 games and gallingly he failed from 6-1, 6-4, *4-1 ahead to miss the handicap by a single game.
Djokovic scared the living daylights out of many an outright punter when he had the trainer out and that probably didn’t help our cause in what has been a frustrating week one in Paris.
Andy Murray also failed to scrub up against Joao Sousa, letting the Portuguese back into the match in set two to send us 3-0 punters to the poorhouse.
The Scot had won the previous 13 sets against Sousa, but in fairness it was a fine effort from the latter and he probably did deserve to take a set from Murray on the balance of play.
We did get a winner over the line with the overs in Yen-Hsun Lu against Kevin Anderson though and it was fairly stress-free, which was most welcome.
A year ago in the third round there were five underdog winners from 16 matches, with John Isner’s win over Tommy Robredo the biggest of the prices at 2.74 and of 15 completed matches in the third round nine went over 37.5 games and six under.
There are only seven matches today, instead of the usual eight, as Kei Nishikori has a walkover due to Benjamin Becker’s withdrawal and we start at 10:00 UK time.
Roger Federer vs Damir Dzumhur
This 12:00 approx. UK time clash sees the Swiss maestro take on the 23-year-old Bosnian in what will be the latter’s third tussle with a top-10 ranked opponent.
The first two ended in defeats for Dzumhur, to David Ferrer in the US Open last year when he took a set off the Spaniard, and to Tomas Berdych in Melbourne the same year.
And it doesn’t seem likely that the Casablanca semi finalist will fare much better when he takes on the former French Open champion on Friday, with Federer holding a 90 percent winning record against players ranked 85 and lower.
That mark rises to 96 percent at the French Open where the only match he’s ever lost in 23 was?
To Luis Horna way back in 2003, and in 17 matches since then against players ranked 85 and lower Federer has dropped sets in only three, and they were all in 2012.
The Swiss is 76-4 on clay as a 1.01 to 1.10 favourite and he’s 40-1 in best-of-five matches, with the only loss coming to John Isner in Davis Cup, again in 2012.
It might take Federer a short while to figure out the patterns of play against an opponent he admits to not having seen before, but Dzumhur will need to come up with a new tactic than the frequent drop shots he utilised against Marcos Baghdatis in round two.
I can’t see Federer dropping a set here and a price of 1.27 about there being no tie breaks seems decent, considering Fed has played only three tie breaks in his last 50 sets on clay against opponents ranked 85 or lower – and two of those were in the same match.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Pablo Andujar
This 16:00 approx. UK time match between the French star and the Spaniard looks the most likely one in which to find an upset in the making, with Andujar on the crest of a wave right now.
Andujar surely wasn’t expecting Philipp Kohlschreiber to fold so tamely when coming back on Thursday with the score at 4-2 to the German in the fifth set, but he reckoned without Kohli’s ability to start his matches in first gear and Andujar won four straight games.
He’ll feel he’s dodged a bullet there, with the match being called for bad light on Wednesday, and Tsonga has shown very little on clay this swing after a long injury lay off to make him anything like a cert here.
Tsonga has won only five of his last 12 against Spaniards on clay and was beaten easily by Marcel Granollers in Barcelona in April, which can be added to lacklustre efforts against David Goffin and Marin Cilic.
Granted, he may be more motivated here in Paris, but his best win this year in terms of ranking was over Goffin, while Andujar has beaten David Ferrer, Fabio Fognini, Leo Mayer, Feli Lopez and Kohlschreiber in the last month or so.
The Spaniard also has a 6-4 winning record on clay against the big servers in my database and when he does win he always does it comfortably, with wins over Isner, Rosol, Cilic and Lopez all coming by at least three games.
Andujar could get smacked off the court if Tsonga brings his ‘A’ game on Friday, but the Frenchman’s had a very easy draw so far and we haven’t really seen his best form for some time now.
If you’re going to chance Andujar it’s worth going for the jackpot and backing the minus 2.5 games at 8.0.
Sure thing: Back no tie breaks in Federer/Dzumhur at 1.27
Long shot: Back Andujar -2.5 games to beat Tsonga at 8.0