The second round of matches in the men’s singles at the 2015 French Open gets underway on Wednesday, with 16 matches scheduled for today in Paris.
Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are just three of the names in action on a day that looks to hold more in the way of betting options than yesterday’s trappy card.
We managed to get a relatively stress-free ‘sure thing’ over the line when Joao Sousa defeated Vasek Pospisil, with the Portuguese doing it in straight sets, but there was frustration in the Jerzy Janowicz match.
The Pole should have won in three against French teen Maxime Hamou and annoyingly he covered the -5.5 handicap by one game, as I’d opted for the unders instead in the end.
He led by a break in the opening set too, but you do take your life in your hands betting on the mercurial Pole at the best of times.
A tie break was also pivotal in the Grigor Dimitrov/Jack Sock clash in which the Bulgarian led, but after some questionable shot choices he collapsed in the face of some fine aggressive play from the American.
Round two of the French Open a year ago produced only five underdog winners from the 32 matches, with a biggest priced success of 3.64, which was in Marcel Granollers’ win over Alexandr Dolgopolov.
There were 23 straight sets wins, while six went to four sets, and only three went the distance in this round 12 months ago.
Juan Monaco vs Teimuraz Gabashvili
I was happy to go against Monaco with the in-form Federico Delbonis in round one, but the latter didn’t have enough in the tank to get past Pico and I can’t imagine the erratic Gabashvili faring any better.
Pico won’t be unduly harmed by the five setter against Delbonis I wouldn’t have thought and it’s hard to see how the Russian can remain patient enough to win three sets against the much more solid Monaco.
Gaba did have a good win in round one over Feli Lopez, but that was hardly a big shock, with Lopez having one eye on the grass season and having lost 10 times in round one at the French Open.
This will be a different match altogether, with Monaco happy to soak up the power of Gabashvili and pounce on the errors that the latter will make and although it could easily go to four or five sets it’s hard to see Monaco not prevailing eventually.
Monaco has won their two previous career meetings and this will be their first on clay, with Gabashvili never having gone to a fifth set on clay before and having lost all bar one of his five career matches that did make it to a deciding fifth set.
The Argentine has a great record as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite on clay, with 36 wins from 40 such matches, while Gabashvili has lost nine of his last 11 when priced as a 3.0 underdog or bigger.
Kei Nishikori vs Thomaz Bellucci
The Brazilian is in the form of his life right now and looks a decent long shot at around 3.50 to take the opening set from Nishikori in this 12:00 UK time clash.
If Bellucci hits his best form, as he has for much of the last few weeks on the tour, he could quite conceivably dump the Japanese star out of the tournament here, but Bellucci being Bellucci he could quite easily choke it away too – hence the set one bet.
Back inside the top-40 in the world rankings Bellucci is oozing confidence at the moment and he showed little sign of fatigue in a thumping win over Marinko Matosevic in round one.
Both players will look to boss the points and it could make for a really entertaining match and now that Bellucci seems to have added some pop to his backhand, which was always his weaker side, he’s a match for anyone.
Indeed, Bellucci won the opener against Novak Djokovic in Rome, and he’s now won the opener in nine of his last 11 matches on clay, while Nishikori can be a slow starter on occasion.
Nishikori was stunned by an attacking leftie here a year ago when Martin Klizan beat him and against such a dangerous opponent in fairly slow conditions he looks beatable and too short at 1.10.
Pablo Cuevas vs Dominic Thiem
I’m not too sure that Thiem should be favourite for this one, having ploughed through 14 sets on clay in a week, and with fitness being a fairly substantial factor in deciding the outcome of matches on dirt the Austrian looks short.
The price is based on the form he has shown and the confidence gained in winning his maiden ATP World Tour title in Nice last week, but this clash with Cuevas could well be one step too far for Thiem.
He looked a little ragged in the latter stages of his match with new Brit Aljaz Bedene a couple of days ago and this should be a more comfortable match-up for Cuevas than the huge-serving Sam Groth in round one.
The pair are yet to meet on the tour and it should be a tight match on paper, but to me there is some value on the Uruguayan at 2.0 here with Cuevas having had a week off and therefore having played 10 sets fewer in the last week.
Sure thing: Back Monaco to beat Gabashvili at 1.32
Value bet: Back Cuevas to beat Thiem at 2.0
Long shot: Back Bellucci to win set one vs Nishikori at 3.50