Gael Monfils v Joao Sousa
Backing up title wins is tough for any player on the Tour but it might be even more difficult for Gael Monfils who returned in Washington to some kind of form after injury. The Frenchman played very well last week and deserved his title win over the course of the week, although Monfils had to pull out the win over Ivo Karlovic from a really tough position.
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Now Monfils moves on to Canada and I do have to say I like his chances of winning the First Round match against Joao Sousa. The latter has not had a lot of positive results on the hard courts and he has been spending his time in Europe on the clay courts ahead of this match which can’t be the best preparation to take on an in-form opponent.
This is simply not Sousa’s favourite time of the year and it might be even more difficult than normal considering his recent form. Defeats in Bastad and Umag came in disappointing fashion and that is going to have dented confidence before he heads onto the hard courts on which Sousa has struggled.
The matches under Monfils’ belt last week have to be a concern in terms of tiredness, particularly when you consider the energy he put into the Final on Sunday. However, I am going to back the Frenchman to continue his strong form from Washington and have enough for a 63, 64 win.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Gael Monfils -4.5 Games @ 1.94 with Matchbook
Tomas Berdych v Borna Coric
A First Round come from behind win over Ivan Dodig has set Borna Coric up with a big Second Round match against Tomas Berdych. He has been beaten twice by Berdych over the last thirteen months, and Coric will have to be an improved player in this one compared to what he has produced in recent weeks if he is going to challenge the Wimbledon Semi Finalist.
I do think Berdych is on the slide in his own career too and has missed the boat when it comes to winning a Grand Slam title. Berdych still has a pretty big game, but the serve can be vulnerable as he doesn’t back it up as well as he has in the past and that will encourage Coric.
However Berdych is also a decent enough returner to get joy out of the Coric serve which had been put under pressure by Dodig in the First Round. It has been an inconsistent season for the young Croatian and the hard courts can see him put under pressure when not serving as well as he can, while Coric has also had the tendency to be broken a couple of times in a set on this surface.
Take away the run to the Final in Chennai to open the season and Coric is just 5-6 on the hard courts while he would have gone 1-5 in those losses when it comes to covering this number of games. It has only been two occasions on the hard courts that Coric has been an underdog of at least 4.00 this season and both times he has been beaten by at least a five game margin and I am backing Berdych to cover this number too.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Tomas Berdych -4.5 Games @ 1.92 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Ivo Karlovic v Taylor Fritz:
Like Gael Monfils, Ivo Karlovic was involved in a long, draining Final on Sunday and one of the oldest players on the Tour is beginning a third full week on the Tour. After winning the title in Newport and reaching the Final in Washington, Karlovic has played a lot of tennis of late and I do wonder if that will take its toll on him.
The Karlovic game isn’t one that is too taxing on him, but he has to be mentally drained from the long matches he has played and the way he lost the Final to Monfils. However I think his serve remains a big weapon and Karlovic will be looking to use that to keep the pressure on youngster Taylor Fritz.
The American has a pretty big serve himself, but Fritz might just have hit a wall on what is a long Tour for a young player to become accustomed to. The hard courts might be his favourite time of the season, but a lot of losses in recent weeks means he might not be playing the big points as effectively as he would like and that is an issue against an opponent who won’t offer up a lot of chances.
Another strong serving display from Karlovic will put a lot of pressure on Fritz not to make any mistakes on his own serve and that can be tough to deal with. If the veteran is over the disappointment of losing in the Final on Sunday, I think Karlovic might have enough still in the tank to come through and win this match 76, 64.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Ivo Karlovic -1.5 Games @ 1.93 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.