It was an excellent first day in New York for this column, with all of my selections winning on day one of the US Open.
Today’s matches on the men’s side look a little bit trappy in general, with some coin toss matches on the schedule for Tuesday. The men’s first round 12 months ago produced 51 winning favourites from the 64 matches, and ignoring retirements, the only big upset was Viktor Troicki’s loss at around 1.16 against Alejandro Falla.
So losses at heavy odds-on are rare in first round matches in New York. The only ones that I can see who have a real chance today are David Goffin and Sergiy Stakhovsky, who take on Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka respectively.
Goffin should have enough to take at least a set from Berdych, who has a poor record here. We all know about Goffin’s talent, but he’s still developing and it may be asking too much at this time for him to grab the win. The 1.82 about the young Belgian with a 2.5 set start is the bet in that one.
This will be Goffin’s first appearance in the main draw, so it’s guesswork as to how he takes to the unique playing conditions in New York, but he seems to have an excellent temperament which will help him today. Berdych has suffered some really poor losses in this tournament and you get the feeling that New York doesn't really suit his game. He'll need to turn up for this first round match to progress.
It’s worth taking the same bet of +2.5 sets with Stakhovsky as he takes on Wawrinka, who has a history of long matches in the US Open. I was courtside in 2008 when he struggled through five painful sets against Flavio Cipolla on an outside court, and he’s played a lot of four and five setters at Flushing Meadows since then.
It’s rare that Wawrinka gets into top gear early and his wonderful backhand does tend to go off the radar in spells. Stakhovsky returned to form in Winston-Salem and he should have enough about his game to take a set today at odds of around 1.76.
My final bet today is on the clash between Thomaz Bellucci and Pablo Andujar to go over the 37.5 games mark at a price of around 1.87. These two have met three times on their favoured clay surface, with the flashy left-hander Bellucci winning all three. Andujar has been improving on hard courts lately, however, and I can’t see the inconsistent Brazilian winning comfortably again.
The pair played out a five-set battle at Roland Garros a couple of years ago and I won't be at all surprised if today's match goes the distance. Andujar has recorded wins over Janko Tipsarevic, Marinko Matosevic and Lukas Lacko this season, and pushed John Isner close. These are all capable hard court players.
Bellucci has played just two matches on hard courts this swing and won one - by way of retirement. I wouldn’t class him as a 1.33 shot in this match and if he does win it I doubt it will be 3-0.
Back Goffin +2.5 sets to beat Berdych at 1.82
Back Schakowsky +2.5 sets to beat Wawrinka at 1.76
Back over 37.5 games in Bellucci vs. Andujar at 1.87