The 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters has round two action in store for us on Wednesday, with Andy Murray among those in action on day four.
It’s already damage limitation time on the clay swing after another day of unpredictable results and a couple more painful losses on the red dirt in Monaco.
Tommy Robredo had a shocker against Gilles Muller to lose 6-2, 6-2 to the clay-avoiding Luxembourger, who, in fairness to him, played very well, but Robredo was about as bad as he can be.
Nico Almagro looked all set to right things much later on when he served for the opening set against David Goffin at *5-2, but the Spaniard was to win only one more game in the entire match.
All of that was after Gilles Simon should have beaten Novak Djokovic and Adrian Mannarino did beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. On clay and from a set down.
Dominic Thiem vs Robin Haase
I think we have to take Thiem on in some way here, with the Austrian likely to be among those seeds that are vulnerable early on in their first match on clay for a while.
The Austrian has struggled to find his best tennis here in Monte-Carlo, with round one losses to Nicolas Mahut and Lucas Pouille in 2014 and 2015 and last year he lost his opening sets against both Jan-Lennard Struff and Taro Daniel.
He’s yet to win a match in straight sets in Monte-Carlo and on Wednesday he faces an opponent that he’s struggled badly against in the past, with two losses from three matches and a bagel into the bargain.
Haase took down Thiem on clay in straight sets in Davis Cup when the Austrian was ranked 28 in the world in the summer of 2015 and also defeated Thiem again on home soil in Vienna the year before on slow indoor hard.
Then he bageled Thiem in their opening set in Basel when Thiem was ranked 19 in the world, but the Austrian was ill that day and still managed to come out on top in the end.
The Dutchman is in good form this season and put away Damir Dzumhur with few problems on Tuesday after Federico Delbonis withdrew and was replaced by the Bosnian.
On paper Thiem should win this one, but with both men holding serve at 84% on clay at main level over the past year and Haase playing well and having played a match already the start could be tough for Thiem.
The 3.15 about Haase taking set one looks worth chancing in this early start on Court 2.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Going purely on the service hold/break stats on clay over the past 12 months this one looks close, with Struff actually having the better numbers of the two in that regard.
Dimitrov’s season has gone awry rapidly after a great start and he’s lost four of his last five matches, including first up last week on his seasonal clay debut in Marrakech to Robredo – and we all saw Tommy’s level today.
The Bulgarian will improve, but his stats on clay aren’t encouraging and Struff certainly has a lot of clay match time under his belt, with 15 sets on the dirt in the last 10 days.
Dimitrov’s last 10 matches on clay at main level have produced a service hold percentage of 74.7% and a break of serve mark of 21.5 for a very average total of 96.2 (Haase’s total is 101.3 as a comparison).
Struff is slightly better at 100.7, but his record on this surface against top-20 players isn’t the best, so I like the 3.75 about Dimitrov getting himself together and taking this one by two sets to one.
The German can be very effective when he’s the one dictating play and he should have his moments in this match, but it’s hard to see him staying at his best level for long enough unless Dimitrov fails to find his form again.
Another one that looks closer on the service hold/break stats than the prices suggest is Lucas Pouille’s match versus Paulo Lorenzi, with the Frenchman posting similarly average numbers to Dimitrov.
Pouille has a total of 97.4 over the past year on clay at main level, which is worse than Lorenzi’s 103.0, and while the extra class of Pouille should tell in the end I doubt it will be a comfortable success for the Frenchman against the durable Italian, who gets a lot of support here.
Both of this week’s outrights are in action on Wednesday and I’d expect both to progress, but we might well see a tie break in Stan Wawrinka’s clash with Jiri Vesely.
Stan has played breakers in four of his last seven matches on clay versus lefties and Vesely does have a strong service hold mark of 86.3% on clay at main level in the past year, while the pair also played two breakers in their only prior career clash (on hard at the US Open).
Our other outright, Tomas Berdych, should be too much for Tommy Haas to deal with after the veteran benefitted from another mental meltdown from Benoit Paire on Tuesday.
The crazy Frenchman said of his defeat to the 39-year-old: “Even against a player of 70 years I would have lost today because I wasn't able to play at all.”
Andy Murray’s path became a little easier looking for the Scot on Tuesday when Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew and he should take care of Muller easily enough, but fellow Brit Kyle Edmund has his work cut out against Rafa Nadal.
Pablo Carreno Busta should prove too solid for the erratic big hitting of Karen Khachanov on this surface, but I wouldn’t count out Jeremy Chardy of things at all against Marin Cilic.
1 point win Haase to win set one at 3.15
1 point win Dimitrov to beat Struff 2-1 at 3.75