THE first round of Open de Sud in Montpellier wraps up today and there's plenty to get our teeth into.
Kenny De Schepper vs Pierre-Hugues Herbert
This serve-reliant pair have met on three prior occasions (four if you include Futures) and De Schepper is yet to break the Herbert serve – even though one of their encounters came on slow clay in Monte-Carlo.
Unsurprisingly, Herbert has won all three of their meetings, but with four tie breaks being played in the last six sets they’ve contested against each other I like the 2.43 about over 10.5 games in set one in these quick Montpellier conditions.
Even in that match they contested on clay there were two tie breaks and it’s hardly much of a surprise given that neither man has much of a record in breaking serve.
In Herbert’s 11 matches on indoor hard at main level in the past 12 months he’s managed to break serve only 11.3% of the time and he’s notched up a tie breaks per set mark of 0.33.
De Schepper has been a little better on return, but he’s still only breaking 15.6% of the time and playing 0.26 tie breaks per set, and the fact that he’s yet to break Herbert in seven sets of trying suggests this will be a match of few chances.
Herbert (like his doubles partner Nicolas Mahut) has been given a Wednesday start after Davis Cup and he shouldn’t be too fatigued after one doubles match played at home only 350km away in France.
De Schepper has played well here in Montpellier in the past, making the last eight as a qualifier last year, losing out to Richard Gasquet in a deciding set, but I’m not sure I’d fancy him as favourite here, having never broken his opponent in the past.
Odds-against about a tie break in the match looks decent, as does the 3.75 about a breaker in set one, but the market I have here is the over 10.5 games in set one, which is the bet.
Dustin Brown plays well here in Montpellier and he may be fresher than Nicolas Mahut, but I seem to recall backing Brown in this match-up as a 2.50 shot in Metz last season only to witness a really lame effort from the inconsistent German.
One man who may be forgiven if he fails to produce much on Wednesday is Yuichi Sugita, who went to five sets in both of his Davis Cup rubbers and then travelled back from Japan.
His opponent though, travelled even further, and John Millman was overlooked for Davis Cup duty, so that match looks one to pass on.
Daniil Medvedev vs Richard Gasquet
The two underdogs that look like they might have chances in Montpellier on Wednesday for me are Medvedev and Gilles Simon, who both face opponents coming off the back of Davis Cup duty and may get some joy because of that.
I’d have almost certainly have gone with Medvedev against Gasquet had the latter played a second singles rubber on Sunday, but Adrian Mannarino helped Gasquet out there and the Gasman does have an excellent record in Montpellier.
I was tempted by what seems a generous price of 2.62 about there being a tie break in this one, but Gasquet’s record of having played only one match featuring a tie break in his last 10 in Montpellier puts me off.
In these quick conditions in Montpellier Medvedev should have some joy with his flat hitting against the often-too deep court position of Gasquet and the Frenchman will have to play well to justify a price that looks a touch skinny at 1.40.
Medvedev should be in a confident frame of mind after a great start to his season in Australia and he’ll be well rested too, so he could have the legs on Gasquet if this goes long.
The Russian’s style should cause problems for Gasquet and I like the +1.5 sets on Medvedev at 1.82 here.
There are no prices at the time of writing for David Goffin’s clash with Simon, but if there is any fatigue in the legs of Goffin he may be in for a very similar time of it to when he last met Simon, which was in Shanghai at the end of last season.
Goffin had just won Shenzhen and Tokyo back-to-back before playing Simon and the Belgian had nothing left in the tank. Maybe Simon could get lucky again.
At the Sofia Open on Wednesday we have a long list of the potentially crocked and/or fatigued to try and evaluate, with fitness doubts surrounding many of those in action today.
They’ve been given Wednesday starts, but will it be enough for the likes of Robin Haase, Marius Copil, Andreas Seppi, Mikhail Kukushkin, Laslo Djere, Blaz Kavcic, and Malek Jaziri.
All of those were either playing Davis Cup or withdrew injured from the weekend’s ties, so again it’s hardly the most appealing card in Sofia with all those unknowns to guess at.
Haase has drifted in the market against Copil after playing 13 sets in Davis Cup and saying: “I may look fresh, but I feel it in my knees,” but Copil also played two singles rubbers for Romania, although they were only a couple of sets each.
Philipp Kohlschreiber didn’t play Davis Cup after a poor start to the season that led to him flying home from Australia and not staying on for DC duty, with captain Michael Kohlmann saying: “He is not fit and has not been able to train properly.”
That would explain Kohli’s results so far this year and again we’ve no idea how fit he is for Wednesday’s clash with Mirza Basic, and the only match that I can see that doesn’t involve some sort of injury issue is the all-Slovak affair between Lukas Lacko and Josef Kovalik.
Slovakia had a bye in round one of the Davis Cup, so fitness shouldn’t be an issue, but neither Lacko or Kovalik have great form indoors (Lacko 2-9 in his last 11 and Kovalik with just three main draw matches under his belt).
Lacko beat Kovalik at the Bratislava Challenger a few months ago indoors as a 1.57 chance and he’s roughly the same price today. I’m slightly tempted to side with Kovalik here, given Lacko’s indoor record and general lack of consistency, but I’ll pass.
If the rain clears up – and it’s not expected to – in Quito I’ll add information for Wednesday’s play at the Ecuador Open in the morning.