The final major of the 2015 tennis season begins in New York on Monday, with an abundance of round one matches on the card for today at the US Open.
All 32 matches in the top half of the draw are scheduled for Monday at Flushing Meadows, which means we should see Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in action today.
Last year’s round one at the US Open yielded 21 underdog winners from 64 matches, but no real shocks, with the biggest price being the 4.50 about Tatsuma Ito beating Stevie Johnson and Mattias Bachinger defeating Radek Stepanek.
We start at around 16:00 UK time on Monday, and it’s set to be hot in Flushing, with the dial reaching 33C and as ever in this region the swirling wind will be prevalent once more.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Jarkko Nieminen
Kicking off the with the ‘sure thing’ for Monday then, and I’m not sure I like a few of the 1.20 to 1.30 approx. chances today, so I’d rather get the week off to a solid start with a 1.25 treble instead.
Tsonga has only ever lost two matches in round one of Grand Slams in a 28-2 record and both losses were to Andy Roddick back in 2005 and 2007 in his first two major appearances.
Since then the Frenchman has won 28 straight and although he doesn’t seem the force of old he should still be far too much for ageing Finn Nieminen in what will surely be his farewell Grand Slam singles match.
I’m happy to combine Tsonga with defending champion Marin Cilic and also Grigor Dimitrov to make up the treble.
Cilic faces Guido Pella, who has never beaten a top-50 player on a hard court, while Dimitrov, although out of sorts, should not be close to losing to Matt Ebden.
The Aussie is 2-13 against top-20 opposition lifetime and he’s won just one of his last 28 matches against top-50 ranked opponents, with the one success being a five set victory over Nicolas Mahut in the 2014 Australian Open.
Dimitrov has not been at his best this season, but he’s still shown more than enough lately to win this and complete the treble.
Of the short priced singles on Monday I couldn’t back Fernando Verdasco at 1.25 even against this creaking version of Tommy Haas, while David Goffin should beat Simone Bolelli, but I just don’t trust the Belgian.
Mardy Fish is risky for obvious fitness reasons, while Martin Klizan, who is unbeaten as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite is not one to trust and particularly against someone as unpredictable as Florian Mayer.
Alex Dolgopolov should beat Sam Groth, but he’s been put in far too short after his recent Masters level successes and David Ferrer’s fitness is unknown after a long spell off the match court with injury.
Vasek Pospisil is 0-2 as a 1.10 to 1.20 shot, including a loss here to Rogerio Dutra Silva here in New York in 2013, and he looks a tad skinny against the capable but erratic Andreas Haider Maurer (more on that one below).
Roberto Bautista-Agut should take advantage of a tired Pierre Hugues-Herbert, while Gael Monfils hasn’t lost in round one of a major since 2006 in a 31-4 record.
But Andreas Seppi has 18 defeats in round one of Grand Slams to his name and could be stunned by young home sensation Tommy Paul and I’m not convinced about Tommy Robredo either.
Tommy Robredo vs Michael Berrer
Tommy should win this one, but I don’t expect it to be easy against the determined German veteran Berrer, who has beaten the Spaniard on US outdoor hard courts before.
Berrer was a 2.81 shot when he beat Robredo in Cincy in 2010 and today the lefty is a 4.40 chance, which seems a bit big to me against an opponent who was thrashed 6-0, 6-1 the last time he stepped onto a tennis court.
Robredo has lost in round one in two of his last three majors and 13 times overall in a long career and he also has lost four of his last five matches against left-handers who are 6’2” or taller, such as Berrer.
The 35-year-old German has had a good season, with a 36-17 mark in 2015, and he has beaten Rafa Nadal and Richard Gasquet this season, so he can’t be taken lightly.
A few bets interest me here, with set one to Berrer at 2.95 one that’s tempting, while the over 35.5 total games at 1.79 holds some value too, as does the +2.5 sets on Berrer at 1.63.
Robredo has won just one of his last eight Grand Slam first round matches in straight sets and Berrer is one player who really does leave it all out on the court and will fight to the last.
Vasek Pospisil vs Andreas Haider-Maurer
As I mentioned earlier, Pospisil seems really short at 1.16 against the Austrian, who has caused big problems for high-ranked players at the US Open in the past.
AHM defeated Ernests Gulbis here in 2013 when the Latvian was world number 33 and a year ago Haider-Maurer took Bautista-Agut to five sets, so he is no pushover in these New York conditions.
And looking at Pospisil’s record in majors we find that only three times in his 22 matches at this level has the Canadian ever won in straight sets.
One was against Sam Groth in the 2014 Australian Open, while another was Marc Gicquel at Wimbledon 2013 and the first was against Lukas Rosol in the 2011 US Open.
So, I’m not sure where a price of 2.23 about him winning this one 3-0 comes from, especially when the likes of Paulo Lorenzi have taken sets from Pospisil at hard court majors.
Over 37.5 games appeals here, as does the +2.5 sets on Haider-Maurer and this can be doubled with John Millman -1.5 sets to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky to make a 4.0 multiple.
Stakho is in dire form at the moment and has won only one of his last eight matches – and that one was against young Canadian wild card Filip Peliwo in Montreal.
The Ukrainian also has a poor record at the US Open of 2-6 in the main draw and he hasn’t won a match here since 2010.
Millman has been in fine form of late, landing the Aptos Challenger a fortnight ago and the Lexington Challenger before that and the Aussie’s game is likely to prove too solid for the wayward Stakho at the moment.
Sure thing: Back Tsonga, Cilic and Dimitrov in a treble at 1.25
Value bet: Back Berrer +2.5 sets to beat Robredo at 1.63
Long shot: Back Haider-Maurer +2.5 sets and Millman -1.5 sets at 4.0