The Western and Southern Masters continued to confound on Wednesday – in both the men’s and women’s draws.
We saw several retirements and a few other performances that should go down in the books as such, most notably Lleyton Hewitt’s embarrassing showing against Viktor Troicki.
The Aussie veteran managed the unenviable feat of putting up a worse showing than Alexander Dolgopolov the other day, with 28 unforced errors (one more than Dolgo) in just 14 games.
It was as if Rusty had never played the game before and Troicki couldn’t believe his good fortune as he kept the ball in play for just over 50 minutes. If this were boxing his purse would have been withheld.
At least my treble of Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic and Mardy Fish was a winner on another tough day in America’s mid west.
Increasingly, with the lack of effort that we’ve seen so far this week this is looking like a tournament for the unders, with 14 of the 16 men's second round matches ending in straight sets (or less).
In last year’s third round six of the eight matches ended in two sets, so there may be some value in getting on the straight sets wins again today.
One match that looks likely to finish in under the 20.5 total games mark is Juan Martin Del Potro vs Troicki.
As I said, the Serbian was handed the match by Hewitt yesterday and he might find the tables turned on him today by Delpo, who handed out a similar beating to Troicki in their most recent meeting indoors in Rotterdam.
In their five career meetings so far the score reads 11-1 in sets to Delpo and the in-form Argentine should be able to get this done in straight sets in less than 20.5 games.
His match against Tommy Haas yesterday is hard to judge playing against a jaded opponent and on his first match in these quite unique Cincy conditions, but I expect him to improve for that run-out and Troicki shouldn’t be able to live with Delpo in most of the exchanges.
That match is the first of the day at 4pm UK time on Court 3 at the same time as Mardy Fish vs Radek Stepanek which is scheduled for Centre Court.
Steps has a perfect 4-0 record against Fish, all of which matches have been played on hard courts (one indoors) and although I expect Mardy to be the more likely winner here in Cincy this time around, this looks like it will probably go long.
Fish is a little short at 1.52 for my liking and the 1.90 about this one bucking the trend and going over 22.5 games looks a better value wager to me.
I fully expect a straight sets win for Andy Murray over Jeremy Chardy in their match which is on Grandstand Court at around 6pm UK time in what represents a nice match-up for the Scot.
Murray dealt with the similar game of Sam Querrey effectively yesterday, but the 18.5 total games mark looks tight and I’ll just add Murray 2-0 to my accumulator at 1.26 in this match.
Another match where the total games market looks like a good bet is in the Milos Raonic v Tomas Berdych encounter, which takes place on the televised Court 3 at around 9pm tonight UK time.
This is the first meeting between the pair and I expect Berdych to win it, as Raonic just doesn’t do enough in his return games, which was highlighted again yesterday.
Marcos Baghdatis served at just 39% of first serves in their match and it still took Milos three tight sets to beat the Cypriot because he’s not a good enough returner yet and gives the top guys too easy a task to hold.
Consequently he wins most of his matches by small margins and if Berdych has shaken off his recent malaise I fancy him to take this, but the over 23.5 total games will be my bet in this one.
Best Bets: Back under 20.5 games in Del Potro v Troicki at 1.84; Back over 23.5 games in Berdych v Raonic at 1.80; Back over 22.5 games in Fish v Stepanek at 1.90
Back Murray 2-0 & Del Potro 2-0 in a double at 1.76.