THE forecast rain wiped out the majority of day two at the US Open and so day three is a busy one with matches from round one and two scheduled for Wednesday.
Neither of our bets were completed on Tuesday, with Maximilian Marterer showing what he can do by dishing out a breadstick to Donald Young in set two of their clash, but the young German allowed Young an early break in set three before it was suspended.
I said yesterday that the “3.55 on Tiafoe +2.5 sets is interesting” and in hindsight I should have taken it as Frances Tiafoe took Roger Federer to a fifth set in one of the very few matches to be completed on Tuesday.
We’re set fair for a full day’s play on Wednesday, according to the forecast, and indeed conditions seem pleasant, with highs of around 25C expected.
And that could be a big factor in the match between Marin Cilic and Florian Mayer, with the German saying after his win in round one. Cilic was unsurprisingly rusty in round one and he’s rarely found Mayer an easy opponent to deal with.
We had a nice winner last week with Kyle Edmund over Steve Johnson and I see no reason why the Brit can’t confirm the form against the American who’s having a tough time of it at the moment.
Edmund is comfortably better off the ground and only a superb serving performance from Johnson or a physical letdown from Edmund seem likely to stop him here.
But today’s shortlist includes a few lively underdogs and as well as Edmund there are several others that are fancied but it should be noted today’s round two matches won’t start until around 9pm UK time and later due to the scheduling congestion.
Evgeny Donskoy v Mikhail Kukushkin
This pair have met eight times, with Kukushkin winning six of them, but the prices look to be favouring the Kazakh too much here, with Donskoy having a better hold/break total at main level over his last 10 matches than Kukushkin.
The head-to-head is also a tad misleading as Donskoy won their last clash at the China Open in Beijing in 2016 6-4, 6-1 and prior to that Kuku’s two most recent wins were a five setter in Davis Cup and a retirement by Donskoy on clay.
So on their three clashes last season there’s no way that Kuku should be a 1.4 chance today and his win over a poor David Ferrer in round one may have made his price too short here.
Ferrer said of his defeat: “I went from more to less, I lacked some spark. I'm going to take two or three weeks of vacation. I have felt that my body is saturated.”
Donskoy has a service hold/break total of 98.6 on outdoor hard at main level over his last 10 matches, while Kukushkin’s mark is 96.6 over his last 10, so there’s a slight advantage to Donskoy there too.
If we’re just looking at matches played at the US Open in the main draw we also find that Donskoy’s hold/break total is better than Kukushkin’s by 102.7 to 97.8, so there are a few reasons to side with the underdog here.
Donskoy’s level can vary so wildly – from beating Roger Federer to losing to Blaz Kavcic in the space of just over a fortnight – that he’s a risky play, but at these prices he’s worth backing, either outright or on the handicap of +4.5 games.
This pair have very high tie breaks per set ratios over their last 10 matches on this surface too and I’d expect a competitive affair here, with Donskoy good value.
Radu Albot v Yen Hsun Lu
This is another one where a case can be made for opposing the favourite, with Lu holding a very poor record at the US Open and probably also being somewhat fatigued after a long run of matches in Asia.
There was a big gamble on Dmitry Tursunov to beat Lu last week in Winston-Salem before the Russian pulled out realising he’d made an error with his protected ranking numbers and it would make sense that he’s tired after 28 sets of tennis this month.
Albot has played 13 sets in the same period of time and with Albot’s game being all about solidity and making few errors it’s not a given that the 34-year-old Lu will have enough in the tank to break the Moldovan down over five sets here.
Karen Khachanov had the unforced error machine switched on to overdrive in his round one defeat to Lu and that success for the man from Taiwan was only his third win at the US Open in his 13-match main draw career in New York.
He’s never won back-to-back matches in the main draw at New York and if we also consider the 2017 service hold/break stats of the two players Lu looks more and more like a beatable favourite.
This season on all surfaces at main level there’s very little in it, with Albot on 95.1 and Lu on 96.8 and although Albot’s record (as I mentioned the other day) is poor on hard courts in his career as a whole those 2017 numbers are much better.
Lu has only five wins from 16 matches at main level this season (Albot eight from 23) and the market is probably influenced by Lu’s good win over Albot at the start of the year in Chennai.
Results from week one of the year don’t mean a great deal though and unless Lu is on peak form this may well be tougher than odds of 1.37 suggest.
The other one I like is for no tie breaks at odds-against in the clash between Sam Querrey and Dudi Sela, which will take place on Court 5 at around 10pm UK time.
Querrey’s 28 matches at main level on outdoor hard over the past year have featured few tie breaks, with his tie breaks per set ratio low at 0.12, while Sela’s is always low and is currently 0.06 over his 18 matches on outdoor hard over the past 12 months at main level.
The pair have played only one tie break in 10 completed sets against each other (and that was when Querrey choked from some way ahead in Newport in 2012) and Querrey’s improved return of serve numbers over the last year make this bet good value.
There could also be a case made for taking on Jordan Thompson after his five-setter against Jack Sock in round one but I’m yet to be impressed by Thomas Fabbiano.
Diego Schwartzman should take care of a likely exhausted Janko Tipsarevic and hopefully Lucas Pouillewill gain a spot of revenge for his loss to Jared Donaldson recently when the pair meet again on Court 17 today.
Murray’s withdrawal and Ferrer’s defeat have made that section of the draw appealing for Pouille but he’ll need to play well to beat Donaldson who’s had a good time of it lately on the hard courts.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexander Zverev may need to be on their respective games to overcome tricky challenges in Denis Shapovalov and Borna Coric, with both underdogs having chances.
Hopefully Tsonga will be too powerful for the young Canadian, but Coric will fancy his chances against a former junior rival that he’s yet to lose against in Zverev, but the Croat hasn’t been in good form lately.