Lucas Pouille v Feliciano Lopez
I backed Lucas Pouille to beat Feliciano Lopez when these players met last week in Vienna and it was a very close match that the Frenchman might feel he should have won. With the home crowd behind him this week, I am backing Pouille to have a little more success at the big moments and get the better of Lopez who has already beaten one Frenchman this week.
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They had very similar numbers when they played last week with Lopez having a bit more joy on the ace front, and Pouille having a couple more double faults which seemed to make all the difference. It did look like Pouille had built up the momentum to win that match and had the break points in the final set to do so before coming up just short.
It would be wrong of me to suddenly think Pouille shouldn’t be the favourite in this match because of that close loss that could easily have gone his way. He has played with some real quality this season, but it will be important for him to try and take away the big Lopez first serve from what he has learned last week and having the crowd really behind him can give Pouille the motivation to dig in a little deeper.
I won’t be surprised if we need three sets to separate the players again, but this time I think Pouille comes away with a 46, 63, 64 win.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Lucas Pouille -1.5 Games @ 1.80 with Bet365
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Losing the Final in Vienna means Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will miss out on a place at the World Tour Finals unless a number of withdrawals are made by players above him in the Race for London. Injuries have affected his 2016 season, but Tsonga can get the better of Albert Ramos-Vinolas again having beaten the Spaniard in the Quarter Final in Vienna last week.
Tsonga dominated the first set, but then began to struggle on serve with too many double faults giving Ramos-Vinolas confidence to try and get back into the match. At home Tsonga can play with a loud crowd behind him which is when he really thrives as a player and I think that can help him record a similar margin of victory as he had against him last week.
The problem for Ramos-Vinolas is that Tsonga should be able to get a very solid swing on the return against his first and second serve. There will be times the lefty serve is an issue for Tsonga whose weakest wing is the backhand, but I think the Frenchman can dominate the rallies with his first strike style and put Tsonga in a strong position in the match.
It would be easier for Tsonga if he is serving better than he was in Vienna, but even a similar level should help him come through with a 63, 64 win and a place in the Third Round.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -4.5 Games @ 1.93 with Pinnacle
Gilles Muller v Novak Djokovic
For the first time since his surprising Semi Final loss in Shanghai, Novak Djokovic is back on the court as he looks to hold onto the World Number 1 Ranking he has had for a couple of years. Djokovic has to reach the Final at least this week if Andy Murray continues his fine form and does the same, but he could have hoped for an easier road into this tournament than the dangerous Gilles Muller.
It has been a solid few weeks for Muller who has reached the Semi Final in Basel and a Quarter Final in Tokyo, but he will need to be at his very best to challenge Djokovic. Two of their three previous matches have been very competitive and I do have to say that this is a Djokovic who might not be at his very best.
He has been speaking about the improvement he is feeling and it looks like Djokovic has been motivated by the fact that Murray has gotten so close to taking the World Number 1 spot. However there are some concerns about the Djokovic serve and whether it is going to be a shot that he can rely upon at big moments and Muller can hit out at times and make a few winners off the return which can help him force a break or two.
Muller has been serving well enough to challenge Djokovic with that shot too and this looks a lot of games to be given to the big serving lefty in this one. At odds against I have to back the games and look for Muller to keep this one competitive even if I am not sure he can actually complete the upset against what sounds like a newly motivated Djokovic.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Gilles Muller +4.5 Games @ 1.92 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Prices correct at time of writing.