This most unpredictable of weeks in the tennis calendar comtinued to show it's teeth on Wednesday.
This time we had the retirements, lacklustre efforts and generally odd results that are unfortunately prevalent in this low profile week that’s shoehorned in between the Davis Cup and the beginning of the Asian swing.
Of course if this were any other sport there would be a week’s break so that players (and writers) can have a rest after the final major of the year and the Davis Cup play-offs, but there’s zero chance of that and the result is the kind of pointless entertainment that we’ve been served up this week.
In front of one man and his dog (minus the dog) the sight of the likes of Fabio Fognini et al slouching and whinging their way through these ATP 250 events is one that the sport could surely do without and clearly it’s little more than a crapshoot for us poor punters at times.
Yesterday’s lowlights included Cedrik Marcel Stebe bombing the ball into the backboards in what appeared to be someone’s basement in Metz, number two seed Denis Istomin in St Petersburg bombing from a set up and Philipp Petzschner, Jan Hajek and Andrey Kumantsov quitting on their respective stools.
That’s not to mention Tobias Kamke losing from a set up against Fognini, but in last year’s Metz and St Peterbsurg second round matches 13 of the 16 favourites won, so perhaps things will get a bit less random from now on.
On the plus side, I did say that Gilles Muller was too big against Paul-Henri Mathieu, so that was the one bright spot from Wednesday.
Thankfully, today’s matches look better and it should pay to kick off with an early double of Guillermo Garcia Lopez and Lukasz Kubot in their respective matches against Paolo Lorenzi and Daniel Gimeno Traver.
Lorenzi’s first round struggle over Belarusian qualifier Siarhei Betau was only his fifth win ever on an indoor hard court and just his second at a tour level event. This surface suits the vastly more experienced Garcia Lopez far more and he shouldn’t have too many problems winning this one.
Kubot almost choked away a win over Istomin but he’ll find things easier against another poor indoor player in Gimeno Traver, who has just two wins indoors in the main draws of tour level events to his name lifetime. The big Pole has beaten the Spaniard twice on clay and should have too big a game indoors today. The double pays 1.76.
I think Marcel Granollers is overpriced and underrated at 2.15 to beat Ivo Karlovic in the day’s opener in Metz and Muller has a decent chance of taking down Nikolay Davydenko at 1.88 in their Metz meeting.
But I like even better the chances of Martin Klizan against Simone Bolelli at 1.63 in their St Petersburg clash at around 1pm today.
Klizan has been in rare form of late having previously possessed an awful record on hard courts and he should be looking to go deep in this tournament after a fine US Open.
He has a 2-0 record over the free hitting Italian on clay this year and Bolelli is 11-22 indoors stretching back to the start of 2009 and he has lost seven of his last 10 matches on all surfaces against left handers such as Klizan.
All things considered Klizan has to be worth a bet at 1.63, as does Philipp Kohlschreiber at 1.57 against French nutcase Benoit Paire.
Kohlschreiber is a former finalist in Metz and he comes here fresh having not played Davis Cup after a fall out with the German tennis authority.
These two had a five set battle in the US Open a few weeks back which Kohlschreiber won and he should have too much nous for the drop shot addicted Paire who was flattered by a first round win over an injured Xavier Malisse.
Best Bets: Back Garcia Lopez and Kubot in a double at 1.76; Back Klizan to beat Bolelli at 1.63; Back Kohlschreiber to beat Paire at 1.57.