CHINA AND JAPAN OPEN TENNIS

Veteran Croat Ivan Ljubicic got off to a flying start at the China Open with an impressive straight-sets victory over US Open semi-finalist and No.7 seed Mikhail Youzhny on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old world No.17 tackles Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov (5-6, totesport, Ladbrokes, William Hill) for the first time – a rising star almost 10 years his junior – on Thursday.

Ljubicic is evens at Boylesports, bet365, sportingbet and Coral but I reckon his experience against a nipper 39 places behind him in the world rankings will see him through to a likely quarter-final with Andy Murray in Beijing.

The one-time world No.3 won his 10th ATP Tour title, albeit back in March, stunning not only bookmakers, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal but also Andy Roddick in the final to capture the ATP 1000 event at Indian Wells.

Another veteran, Jurgen Melzer, who reaches 30 next May, is in the midst of his best season and tackles Serbian Viktor Troicki for a place in the last eight at the  Japan Open in Tokyo.

The Austrian is at a career-high 13 in the world rankings while Troicki, another player like Dolgopolov beginning to make noises in men’s tennis, is ranked 54th.

Melzer also reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros this year and has a 3-0 head to head record against Troicki, four if you throw in a Challenger Tour win in 2008.

He also boasts an impressive 43-22 win-loss record for 2010 and for all those reasons he is the man to back at 8-13 with Boylesports. Troicki is 6-4 with Betfred.

Back the veterans as singles but I for one will also have a punt on a Ljubicic/Melzer double which pays £32.31 for a £10 stake at Boylesports.

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