Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Kei Nishikori
Both Kei Nishikori and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended up as Runners Up in Basel and Vienna respectively last week, but both seem to have rounded into some nice form to close out 2016. The wins they have earned on Wednesday looked in impressive fashion and that makes this a very good Third Round match for those who will be watching.
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It is Nishikori who has gotten the better of Tsonga in previous matches including a really dominating win over the Frenchman at the Australian Open. However these courts might suit the Tsonga game a little more with the heavier serve and big forehand likely to find some penetration on a court which is still on the faster side of the Tour.
Tsonga has plenty of motivation this week as he tries for one last ditch attempt to make it to the World Tour Finals, especially in light of Dominic Thiem potentially being another player who has to withdraw from the event in London. That can be coupled with the court they are playing on as to give Tsonga a chance for the upset win here, although Nishikori’s movement and ability to rally into the backhand is part of the reason he has been able to get the better of this opponent in the past.
Nishikori also holds two wins over Tsonga at the Paris Masters, but both have been incredibly close matches that have needed final set deciders. Those matches were played in 2013 and 2014 and while Nishikori is improved, I think Tsonga might show a little more fight to turn things in his favour and I will back the underdog with the games.
Tennis Hanidcap Betting Pick: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga + 1.5 Games at 1.98 with Unibet
Tomas Berdych v Gilles Simon
There are some head to head match ups that surprise you when you see which player is winning- one of the ones that always comes to mind is the way Fabrice Santoro used to baffle Marat Safin and ended with a 7-2 head to head against him. While not to the same level of dominance, Gilles Simon having a 7-5 record over Tomas Berdych has to be considered a surprise.
You would think Berdych would be able to overpower Simon, but the Frenchman has to be one of the most irritating defenders on the Tour with an insane ability to make hundreds of balls without seemingly tiring. Someone like Berdych wants to hit out and having to make that many shots sees him break down and eventually make too many mistakes.
Berdych will have to serve a lot better than he did on Tuesday, but that day off could be crucial as Simon was battling in the evening on Wednesday. We know Berdych will have chances to break serve with even an average returning day, but he didn’t play well in the win over Joao Sousa for long periods and that has to be a concern for him.
I think Berdych is better than he showed on Tuesday and having more time to recover than Simon could be critical as the Czech player tries to extend his run of reaching the World Tour Finals. This will be a battle as it always in when Simon is playing but I can see Berdych getting the better of him over three sets and coming through with a 63, 46, 76 win.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Tomas Berdych – 1.5 Games at 2.07 with Pinnacle
Andy Murray v Lucas Pouille
There is plenty of motivation for Andy Murray heading into this tournament, but you cannot ignore the huge amount of tennis he has played in recent weeks to get into a position to earn the World Number 1 Ranking. Murray was pushed to the limit by Fernando Verdasco in the Second Round on Wednesday, but you can see how strong he is still feeling by coming through against an opponent who was playing close to his best tennis.
Murray will be battling the fans and Lucas Pouille on Thursday in the Third Round but this has been a good match up for him and I expect the same in Paris when they meet. For all of the improvement made by Pouille over the course of 2016 to finish in the top 20 of the World Rankings, I still think the Frenchman is trying to find the consistency in his game to take the next step forward.
He has particular trouble against Andy Murray in their two previous matches this season and the most games Pouille has won in a set is three games, although that only happened once in four sets competed. The problem for Pouille is that he is not going to get a lot of cheap points from Murray and has some difficulty penetrating the Brit’s defences.
That forces Pouille to go closer and closer to the lines and ends up with some errors in his games that only helps Murray keep control of the match. With Murray’s serve working effectively enough, it is no surprise he has been able to dominate the rallies and Murray has broken the Pouille serve four times in both matches. Doing that here should give him every chance to win this one 64, 62 and I will back Murray to cover the games.
Tennis Handicap Betting Pick: Andy Murray – 5.5 Games at 2.10 with Bet365
Prices correct at time of writing.