The third day of the 2012 Asian swing on the ATP Tour sees some of the bigger names play their opening round matches in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
Looking back on last year’s first round matches in Bangkok there were nine of 12 favourites successful in the first round and eight of 12 winning favourites in Kuala Lumpur.
Feliciano Lopez at first glance seems like a good thing to beat the woefully out of form Lukas Lacko, who has now lost his last seven matches in a row, but before wading in on Lopez it must be considered that he’s never won a match on the Asian swing.
The 31-year-old Spaniard has not been a regular visitor to either Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur in recent years and it’s probably because he has a 0-4 record in total over both events.
It’s always a problem trying to second guess the commitment of the players at this time of year but I would like to think that Lopez would be trying to force his way into Spain’s Davis Cup reckoning.
Furthermore, Lacko was awful again in his straight sets embarrassment against Grega Zemlja last week and his confidence must be in his tatters right now, so Lopez couldn’t ask for a more comfortable starter to his Asian campaign.
For my money, Lopez is not purely around for the appearance fee on this occasion, not that I would back him at 1.26. But Lacko is so bad right now that it’s probably a better option to go all in and risk the 2-0 Lopez win at 1.68
Lacko has lost 16 of the last 19 sets that he’s contested, so I would surmise that if Lopez takes it seriously he will win comfortably and therefore the straight sets win is the wager.
Also in Kuala Lumpur today, Juan Monaco plays his first ever match on the Asian swing, which would suggest that he’s after some good ranking points this week and he’s shown good indoor form in the last two events that he’s contested. He takes on Jimmy Wang for the first time and the Argentine should come through that one.
Britain’s Dominic Inglot, the doubles specialist, has qualified in the singles and takes on Alex Bogomolov Jr in Kuala Lumpur in what should be a comfortable win for the Russian, but he really shouldn’t be 1.07 against anybody.
But a bet I will take on is for Pablo Andujar to take at least a set off Denis Istomin at a price of around 1.90
The Spaniard has a poor record on indoor hard and he’s only played one match on the Asian swing in his career, but he has been improving on hard courts lately and he posted some good wins on the North American swing this year, so I think we’ll see an improvement in his indoor results as well.
Istomin is a total enigma, who can be awful or very good and if he has a poor day, as he has at this time of year often in his career, Andujar has the ability to make this a difficult opener for the 1.33 favourite.
They’ve played once on a hard court, this year in Sydney, which went to a decider and Istomin won’t be overly confident after a bad loss in the first round in St Petersburg last week as the number two seed.
I certainly wouldn’t be backing Istomin at 1.33, as he has lost three times in his last six tournaments at around that sort of price and I’d rather risk Andujar +1.5 sets at a much better price.
In Bangkok it’s worth taking the overs in the match-up between Ivo Karlovic and Marinko Matosevic at a price of 1.70.
Ivo is pretty effective indoors still despite being on the slide at 33-years-old and this match will almost certainly go long, with neither player up to much in terms of returning.
They’ve met on two occasions in the past with one win apiece and with Matosevic playing his first tour match since the US Open he may find this a very awkward proposition indeed after a break.
Best Bets: Back Lopez to beat Lacko 2-0 at 1.68; Back over 23.5 games in Karlovic vs Matosevic at 1.70; Back Andujar +1.5 sets to beat Istomin at 1.90.