Round three of the men’s singles at the 2015 US Open begins on Friday at Flushing Meadows in New York, with the world number one among those in action on day five.
There were wins for the ‘long shot’ and ‘sure thing’ wagers on Thursday, with Jiri Vesely starring for us in a five set win over Ivo Karlovic, while Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Kevin Anderson were all straight sets winners.
Aljaz Bedene faded badly from a set and a break up against Donald Young in the only disappointment on another scorching day that saw Jack Sock and Denis Istomin retire.
A year ago we saw just the four underdog winners from 15 matches in round three of the US Open, with Gilles Simon’s 4.22 success over David Ferrer being the pick – and the only one over 2.50 in price.
Fabio Fognini vs Rafael Nadal
Having watched Rafa’s two opening matches at this year’s US Open and the majority of his this season I’m happy to take a chance on Fognini in this one at a decent price.
Nadal is seemingly irked by regular comments and questions about his lack of form and his: “I’m eight in the world – it’s not like I’m 200 in the world,” answer to a question the other day misses the point.
Going on past performances people expect much better than they’re seeing at the moment from the Spaniard, who is arguably not playing number eight in the world tennis at the moment, or even close to it.
All of which gives the mercurial Fognini a decent shot here in his fourth clash of the season with Nadal and first on hard courts after three on clay.
Fogna won the first two and should have won the last one and going on the poor level of Rafa’s tennis against Diego Schwartzman in round two the Italian has to be a decent long shot today.
Nadal played some good stuff against Borna Coric, but was nothing like it against the little Argentine, and his level these days is all over the place.
Fognini has been pretty good so far this tournament, but his form means little, and it’s all about if he fancies it on the day.
I expect he will love another shot at this 2015 version of Nadal and if he plays his best tennis he will have a great chance of beating the Spaniard for the third time this season.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Sergiy Stakhovsky
Tsonga’s handy draw in this year’s US Open continues on Friday, with another opponent from outside the top-50 to deal with in the form of Stakhovsky.
Stakho has come through the Gael Monfils section after the clown prince of men’s tennis fell over and quit against Stakho’s fellow Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko and Tsonga will no doubt be very pleased that he did.
Tsonga and Stakhovsky have met on five prior occasions at senior level and once as juniors and the Frenchman has won five of those meetings, though they haven’t clashed now for three years.
Stakhovsky came into this tournament in no sort of form at all and will be pleased to have made round three given his level over the summer and poor record here in New York.
I suspect this is where it ends though and the 1.23 about Tsonga winning this one with a -1.5 set start looks the best of the short prices around today.
Tsonga is 24-1 at majors as a 1.01 to 1.10 shot, with the one loss coming here against an inspired Martin Klizan in 2012 and Tsonga has won all 12 since that loss in straight sets.
Indeed, Tsonga has never been to five sets in any of those 25 matches as a very short favourite, so I’m looking for that trend to continue against Stakhovsky here.
Milos Raonic vs Feliciano Lopez
I was happy to take the injured Raonic on with Fernando Verdasco the other day and that didn’t quite go to plan, but surely his mate Lopez has a better than 2.65 chance of defeating the Canadian?
Lopez defeated Raonic only a matter of two weeks ago in Cincinnati and with Raonic clearly struggling badly with a back problem that again required on-court treatment against Verdasco it has to be worth siding with Lopez again.
Feli was pretty poor against Mardy Fish in the last round, but that can be forgiven, with his pal Fish playing his last ever match as a professional, and form means little with Lopez in any case.
Their six match career series is tied at 3-3 and if this one goes long, which most would expect it to, it seems less likely that Raonic will be able to keep going carrying a back injury.
Over 42.5 aces is also an option here at 1.75, with the pair having sent down 27 in two sets in Cincy and 51 in their five setter in Melbourne in January.
Raonic will be desperate to keep the points short in his condition and the serve doesn’t seem to be as affected, with 18 aces against Verdasco, and one serve that missed clocking 147mph.
Under 1.5 tie breaks also isn’t a bad call, with this pair having played only four in their 16 sets against each other on hard courts and that’s a 1.79 chance.
Sure thing: Back Tsonga -1.5 sets to beat Stakhovsky at 1.23
Value bet: Back Lopez to beat Raonic at 2.65
Long shot: Back Fognini to beat Nadal at 3.55