WE start at 10:00 UK time on Wednesday, with what appears to be a very winnable match for Roberto Bautista Agut in Dubai against Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who can count himself fortunate to have beaten Joao Sousa on Tuesday.
Herbert was a set and a break down and 5-2 behind in the final set tie break, but came up with some all or nothing stuff to save three match points and edge through into round two, but RBA should be too solid for the Frenchman to progress any further.
On Court 1 at the same time it’s Borna Coric potentially taking on an injured Frenchman for the second day in succession when he faces Benoit Paire following what was in the end a rather laboured victory over a barely fit Richard Gasquet.
The Gasman was hardly moving at times, but Coric still made a meal of it, and he could get lucky again, with Paire still hampered by his back problems that he described thus after a win over another less than fit player in Yoshihito Nishioka:
“I couldn’t even walk after Montpellier and if it was not for the painkilling injection, I doubt I would be on court today,” Paire said. “After Rotterdam I saw my doctor and he told me it is normally not a big problem. For the moment I feel it is OK. The back is a bit tight but I am OK. Every day is a victory for me.”
Coric knew beforehand that he was likely to be facing an injured Gasquet, as the latter had cancelled a practice hit on Friday, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to him and we’ll see how Coric fares if Paire puts on his full routine on Wednesday.
We’re already on Evgeny Donskoy and Marcos Baghdatis in the outrights, as well as Robin Haase, but one of these looks decent value for a top-up wager on Wednesday.
Evgeny Donskoy vs Damir Dzumhur
Haase looks very skinny at 1.34 against Jaziri given how he only just edged past Quentin Halys in the last round, but we’ve got to be hopeful that Haase can win that one and take his place in the quarters.
Baghdatis has a fair chance against Filip Krajinovic, who’s hard to judge on outdoor hard just at the moment and got bagelled by Thomas Fabbiano on Tuesday.
It’s Donskoy who looks the betting value in Dubai on Wednesday though at 2.75 against Dzumhur, who looks less than fully fit at the moment and was far from convincing on Tuesday against qualifier Yannick Maden, who didn’t return from a rain delay in the same form as prior to the break.
Donskoy really enjoys conditions in Dubai and after getting round one against an out of form Blaz Kavcic out of the way in straight sets the Russian will surely start to feel good about being back here after last year’s fine performances.
He’s certainly got the power to cause Dzumhur real problems on his best form and if the Bosnian is still suffering the effects of last week’s illness I’m pretty optimistic about Donskoy’s chances here.
The pair have never met before, but Dzumhur is certainly much more vulnerable on quick outdoor hard than some of the deathly slow indoor events that he’s done so well in of late.
The other one that offers a bit of value for my money is to take Yuichi Sugita as slight underdog against Jan-Lennard Struff, who doesn’t strike me as the kind of player that tends to do well in Dubai unless he plays his absolute best.
The big-hitting German’s lack of control and propensity to try and hit too hard may be his downfall against Sugita, who has the better hold/break stats over the past 12 months on hard courts and beat Struff in their only career clash.
That match was back in 2015, but it was on Struff’s favoured (in terms of stats) surface of indoor hard in Valencia, and Sugita has no sort of record indoors.
Indeed, Sugita is 2-9 lifetime at main level on indoor hard, while Struff has a hold/break mark of 101.6 indoors in his 43 main level career matches (23-20) and that mark drops to 96.3 on clay and 92.2 on outdoor hard.
If Struff is on his game he could prove too strong for Sugita in these lively conditions, but slight value on the more consistent man as underdog for me.
There’s a quick repeat of the Marseille final at around 12:00 UK time on Centre Court when Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille clash just three days after that tight final in France that Khachanov won 7-5 in the third.
If I was forced into making a pick I’d probably come down on the side of Pouille here, with the Frenchman more like the type of player who should do well in Dubai, with his more controlled power than the sometimes error-ridden Russian.
Pouille having his home here helps too of course, but it’s hard to go against Khachanov in the kind of confident mood he’s in right now without some value attached as there was with Istomin.
Philipp Kohlschreiber is another one that enjoys his visits to Dubai and he looks like his season is beginning to get started now following illness in the early weeks of the year.
The German has a 105.2 hold/break mark in his 17 matches at this tournament and having beaten John Isner a few times on outdoor hard the big serving of Stefanos Tsitsipas shouldn’t cause him that many problems.
Kohlschreiber takes the return nice and early and his return game is some way better than that of the Greek, who struggled once more on return when failing to put a half-fit Mikhail Kukushkin away in two sets in round one.
- 1pt win Donsky to beat Dzumhur (7-4, Unibet)