OUR first wager of Thursday was rather unfortunate as the only break point of the opening set between Nicolas Mahut and Gilles Muller was taken – or rather given away – to foil our set one overs bet.
There hadn’t even been a deuce up until game eight when Mahut made a poor shot choice at 40-30 and then compounded the mistake by hitting a double fault and an unforced error to hand the break on a plate to Muller. It was the only break point he faced all match.
Then we were looking in decent shape for a 3.85 winner when Frances Tiafoe and Juan Martin Del Potro were locked in a final set decider, but it was the underdog that came through for the 2-1 win rather than Del Potro. That was an easy one to control in-play at least, with Delpo the big favourite in the third.
I’m not sure how much play we’ll get today in Rio, as the forecast is for rain pretty much all day. We’ll see how accurate that turns out to be, but I think it will help in one wager today.
Fernando Verdasco vs Dominic Thiem
Verdasco won the Bucharest title in 2016 in very heavy conditions on the damp clay, beating Lucas Pouille easily in the final, and the Spaniard will encounter similar conditions today (or tomorrow).
He has the power to get the ball through the damp clay and he’s also won both career clashes with Thiem, although they were on indoor hard and grass, and the Austrian has to be the favourite on clay.
He can’t be a confident bet at 1.28 though given those two losses to Verdasco and the possibility of fatigue after his run to the Buenos Aires title last week. Indeed he was beaten by a leftie in Rio in 2016 the week after winning the Argentina Open – and it wasn’t Rafa Nadal.
Guido Pella was the man that day and the truth is we don’t really know what Thiem has got left in the tank, as he wasn’t tested in his opening two matches, one of which was a half a set retirement from the luckless Pablo Andujar.
The fitness of Verdasco might be called into question too, with the man from Madrid appearing to be limping a bit during what turned out to be a convincing win over Nicolas Kicker on Thursday.
Verdasco dropped the opening set of that one on a tie break, but breezed through the next two sets for the loss of only two games, and he should at least start the match confidently and any rain delay may aid his recovery from whatever was bothering him.
It’ll help Thiem too as well in all likelihood, but Nando has the power and the hold/break stats and the head-to-head to suggest that he can at least make a match of this.
Thiem has superb numbers, with a 117.9 total, but Verdasco is no slouch either, with a 106.7 total, and it would be disappointing if he didn’t take a set or push Thiem past the overs mark of 21.5 games.
Elsewhere in Rio, the man we backed in Quito at 25-1, Nicolas Jarry, takes on Pablo Cuevas and the latter has been rusty this week while the Chilean has impressed, but the prices pretty much reflect that.
Jarry was a 3.20 chance to beat Albert Ramos and I can’t see any value in him at 2.60 here, with Cuevas likely to improve for the five sets he’s played in Rio this week.
Fabio Fognini vs Aljaz Bedene
That leaves us with Gael Monfils and Fognini to think about and I note that Fabio’s match yesterday against Tennys Sandgren went pretty much as I predicted, with Fogna making a much harder task of it than was necessary, winning 8-6 in a final set tie break
The Italian has a 7-0 record against Bedene to take into Friday’s clash with the Slovenian, which is the last match scheduled and probably won’t get played today.
On that career series you’d have to conclude that Fognini is decent value at 1.93 and he’ll appreciate being back on the main court after moaning about the quality of Court 1 on Thursday.
Bedene has ben flattered by his results lately, beating injured, sick or fatigued opponents in the main, with a win over Diego Schwartzman the stand out showing, and he somehow allowed a poor Pablo Carreno Busta back into it on Thursday. Fatigue could well be an issue for Bedene too after a run to the final in Buenos Aires last week.
As much as it pains me to back Verdasco and Fognini on the same day I think we have to take a chance on Fogna being on a go day at these prices against an opponent he’s outclassed seven times (including twice here in Rio).