The men’s third round matches should be rounded off in Paris on Saturday and I’m hoping for some rather better luck than was in evidence yesterday.
Fernando Verdasco certainly took us on a rollercoaster ride in the opening match of the day against Janko Tipsarevic. The Spaniard took an early 3-0 lead and then lost 13 of the next 17 games to put himself firmly on the back foot and at 2-0 down in sets it looked like curtains. But Verdasco fought back and pushed it all the way to a final set decider that he lost 8-6.
And then incredibly, Gael Monfils wasted at least four match points for the 3-1 win that I had predicted and went on to lose the match to Tommy Robredo in five sets. Elsewhere, Viktor Troicki showed good powers of recovery, landing a surprise win over Marin Cilic. I said yesterday that Cilic was too short at 1.23, but I don’t think anyone would have put money on a 3-0 Troicki win.
Janko Tipsarevic is not a man known for his stamina and playing a tough opponent like Mikhail Youzhny the day after an energy sapping three-hour-plus five setter is reason enough to side with the Russian today. I’ve opposed Tipsarevic twice already this week and it hasn’t paid off, but he has retired on seven occasions in the main draw of Grand Slams and it’s never a surprise when Tipsy shakes hands early in any match.
After the season that he’s had you would think he’ll be after all the ranking points he can muster, but he’s lost three of his last four matches against Youzhny and this will be their first meeting on clay. This should favour the Russian and he looks the bet at 1.74.
Another player who can’t be trusted not to retire at the drop of a hat is Kei Nishikori. Although he has only called it quits in majors on three occasions you know the next one is just around the corner such is his injury record. That aside, opponent Benoit Paire is in fine form at the moment and is the more comfortable on the red dirt. This leads me to side with the Frenchman over the Japanese star, who is appearing in the third round here for the first time.
It’s always a bit of a gamble with a man of Paire’s questionable temperament and the contrast between the demeanour of the players today couldn’t be more marked. But it seems like the ‘new’ Paire is a little less combustible and I’ll take the languid Frenchman to advance today at around 1.75 in what should be an entertaining clash.
Back Youzhny to beat Tipsarevic at 1.74
Back Paire to beat Nishikori at 1.75