Round three of the men’s singles at the US Open 2016 completes on Saturday in New York, with eight matches on the card for today.
It could be a windy one in Flushing on Saturday, as the forecast is saying no rain, but we are expecting 25mph winds, so that could be a problem for those with a high ball toss.
I mentioned the poor first serve percentage problems of Lucas Pouille and Marcos Baghdatis on Friday, but both managed to win despite it, with Baghdatis victorious despite just 43 percent of first serves in play.
That was disappointing for ‘value bet’ backers, but Pouille’s win over Roberto Bautista-Agut was welcome for ‘sure thing’ punters on the set handicap and those who were braver and went for the outright win.
We didn’t get the set we needed from Andrey Kuznetsov, who was poor on the night, and didn’t really test Rafa Nadal in a performance too full of errors.
Juan Martin Del Potro vs David Ferrer
Delpo is one player who might have issues with the ball toss today, but I still can’t see that stopping the Tower of Tandil from taking down Ferrer in what will their 10th career meeting and a first since Wimbledon 2013.
The Argentine was a straight sets winner that day as slight underdog, but he’s a strong favourite this time and rightly so on the form that we’ve seen from him and from Ferrer in recent times.
Delpo looks to be heading back towards the top of the game, while this could well be Ferrer’s last season as a top-20 player and maybe his final year in all. It could well be if his form remains as mediocre as it’s been this season.
He just about managed to get the better of a fatigued Fabio Fognini from two sets to one down on Thursday, but this looks a much tougher task for the veteran Spaniard and one he doesn’t appear to be up to.
Ferrer hasn’t won a match as underdog since beating Kei Nishikori as a 2.47 chance in February 2015 and he’s won just three of his last 16 as underdog on outdoor hard going back to 2012.
And as a 3.50 and upward underdog he’s won two of his 27 matches at main level since 2004, so he’s not usually one to bring home the big prices.
Despite his backhand not being quite what it was Del Potro should have too many weapons for this weakened version of Ferrer and he’ll be helped by the match being played on the quicker Armstrong Court.
The Spaniard has only won three straight matches twice this season ¬– at the Australian Open and the French Open – and he’s lost eight of his last nine matches against top-50 ranked opposition.
The Del Potro -1.5 sets at 1.57 is my ‘sure thing’ for Saturday.
Kei Nishikori vs Nicolas Mahut
Mahut has been playing pretty well in New York so far this week, but it’s hard to see how he’ll keep Nishikori at bay in this 20:00 UK time clash on the new Grandstand Court.
The veteran Frenchman did it from the back of the court against his good friend Paul-Henri Mathieu, but there was little resistance from PHM, who doesn’t enjoy playing on hard courts these days after all of his injuries.
Mahut had only one of his last six matches in New York before this tournament and this is his first time into the last-32 at an event he’s really struggled in over the years.
At only 78.3 percent service holds on outdoor hard this year the Frenchman’s serve will be under constant threat from the decent returning skills of the former US Open finalist and assuming he’s fit I’d expect Nishikori to win this one quite comfortably.
Mahut has only won one match in his career on a hard court against top-10 ranked opposition and that was indoors in Marseille against Ivan Ljubicic back in 2007.
He’s 1-22 overall versus the elite on hard and in all of those 23 matches (53 sets) he’s played only seven tie breaks (and four of those were indoors).
The 35-year-old rarely plays tie breaks on hard courts and has a ratio of 0.08 tie breaks per set and 2.0 about no tie breaks here looks good value to me.
Joao Sousa vs Grigor Dimitrov
I was happy to go against Sousa when he faced Feli Lopez in the previous round and we got a stinker of a performance from the Spaniard as a result, with Lopez claiming physical problems.
And I wouldn’t count the Portuguese out of this 17:30 approx. UK time clash on Court 17, with Dimitrov having played a five setter the previous round and not exactly being a prolific breaker of serve.
Sousa defeated Dimitrov in five sets here at the US Open in 2013 as a 9.65 chance and I’m not seeing any real value in the 1.24 about the Bulgarian here.
In his last five matches away from clay as a sub-1.30 favourite Dimitrov has lost two and been forced to a decider in two of the others, while he’s never beaten Sousa in straight sets in three meetings.
Sousa is supposed to be carrying some sort of knee injury, but it didn’t seem to hamper him at all against Lopez, although he did say afterwards: “It was a hard-fought victory, very painful.”
Whether he means physically or mentally, who knows? But assuming he’s fit the over 36.5 total games looks good here as part of a double.
Dimitrov’s 21.2 percent break of serve percentage isn’t the best and he’d be delighted to get through what looks a tricky test in straight sets.
It’s been an excellent first week for the Brits, with Kyle Edmund through to round four and Dan Evans tries to join him when he faces Stanislas Wawrinka at around 22:00 UK time on Louis Armstrong.
Evans is a tricky one to try and predict, with huge peaks and troughs in his form, as evidenced by wins over the likes of Kei Nishikori, Bernard Tomic and now Alexander Zverev here at the US Open combined with losses to Brian Baker and Yoshihito Nishioka coming into this tournament.
And Wawrinka too blows hot and cold, with a good start against world number 247 Alessandro Giannessi followed up by two sets of 7-6, 7-5 and Evans on his day is good enough to take this past 33.5 games.
Giannessi was 5-2 up in the second set of that Wawrinka clash and with the Swiss liable to many a mental walkabout the overs double is a distinct possibility.
Sure thing: Back Del Potro -1.5 sets at 1.57
Value bet: Back no tie breaks in Mahut/Nishikori at 2.0
Long shot: Back overs in Sousa and Wawrinka at 3.0