Oh it stings. Still stinging almost 24 hours later. Kyle Edmund didn’t face a break point in the first set, in fact Tsonga only got to 30 one time in the set. There was a tiebreak. And Edmund served first in the second set. This should have been a slam dunk over. Yet, Edmund somehow collapsed and was broken twice costing me the under by the dreaded hook. Man, that hurt.
All three outrights lost in the their first match. I can’t do any worse than that. Not the start I was looking for to the clay season - especially with the chalk filled Monte Carlo on deck. Gross.
Last year Zverev went 12-5 covering the -3.5 handicap as a favorite. The non-covers were to the likes of Cilic, Nishikori, Goffin, Edmund and Struff (and he avenged that non-cover to Struff the very next week with a 63,62 beatdown). Zverev only lost once as a favorite, to Nishikori, and he only lost three times in total on clay in 2018 and the losses were to a who’s who of the best clay players on tour (Nishikori, Thiem, Rafa). It’s Zverev’s best surface, he should be motivated after a less than stellar Sunshine Double, and I expect him to truck Munar today. I’ll take the handicap.
I don’t see huge edge between Paire and Herbert. If Paire decides to show up he could easily roll past his fellow Frenchman. Tthe hold/break stats however, show how much PHH is improving and that coupled with his recent decision to focus on singles should tell you how serious PHH is about making some headway at these smaller tournaments. They both had to fight through three sets on Tuesday but, both got the day off yesterday to rest up. Paire could be a bit tired considering this is his fourth week in a row playing tennis; fourth week including going to the finals in Marbella. I expect the off day on Wednesday will fuel him for now and I’ll look to fade Paire on Friday should he get past PHH today. I’ll pass on this match, could easily see three sets though.
Andujar is in a very similar, and maybe more extreme, position to Paire. He is now playing tennis in his fourth straight week on his fourth different continent. This kind of travel does not bode well for a 33 year old. Andujar is obviously in the best of form though, as he is coming off back-to-back titles on the Challenger tour. Even his loss in Miami is nothing to scoff at, as it was to David Goffin. The stats on clay between Andujar and Kohl are fairly similar and with the day off on Wednesday Andujar should have a little boost of energy. The Spaniard is also defending a title here this week, so the extra motivation should continue to push him; it was his first title on Tour in four years. What I could see happening is Andujar tiring out if this a long match. He was up 76,50 over Delbonis on Tuesday before faltering and almost giving it away. I could see him struggling if this match goes three and I’ll look to love bet Kohl if Andujar doesn’t put him away in two - clay is Kohl’s best surface and he usually thrives at these little 250 events if he cares enough to get past the first round.
I don’t see an edge with Londero and Vesely. Their hold/break stats in 2018 were almost identical and the amazing stats Londero brings into Marrakech are built on a single tournament - his title in Cordoba. Additionally, Londero has never played in an ATP event outside of South America and this is his first trip to Africa. Vesely is comfortable here, having been three straight years and gone deep twice. Vesely’s form has been less than stellar for over a year now though, and I don’t feel confident backing him either. Straight pass.
Steve Johnson owns Houston. On clay. Who’d have thought that three years ago? Some people might think Johnson is bound to regress and that he may be under serious pressure to perform this week but I think he may actually be nice and relaxed. Johnson actually had a nice 2018 from Houston onward. Outside of the Slams he actually won a title in Newport in addition to Houston and he also made the finals in Winston-Salem. So, he has plenty of points to fall back on if he doesn’t repeat this week. Additionally, the one Slam where he did make some headway was actually Roland Garros, where he won a few matches. Again, Steve Johnson, clay, who’d have thought. Johnson is rocking the best hold/break numbers in Houston if you look at both 2018 and 2017. So, I’m feeling pretty confident in him.
I would love to fade Thompson here but, man, I’m running pretty cold and I think I should avoid playing guys just as a fade of someone else. Giraldo is a “clay” guy. Thompson is not. Houston is not necessarily traditional red dirt so, I think I’ll just stay away.
Sam Querrey is 7-0 vs GGL on hards and 0-1 vs GGL on clay. So, the question returns to what kind of clay is Houston? Well, Querrey has made two finals and a semi here in Houtson. He bombed out early last year but he was playing an in-his-prime-clay-courter in Guido Pella. I think GGL is a little past that at 35. Querrey still puts up a combined hold/break number on clay of over 100% each year and I feel like he can hammer his way past GGL. It’s probably going to be tighter than the line indicates so, I’ll parlay him with Johnson.
Janko is back? Really? Much like Jerzy Janowicz or Ernie Gulbis or even, to a lesser extent, Delpo, Tipsarevic is a guy who has seemingly battled injuries yearly and never been able to realize on some serious talent and potential. It’s hard to remember that Tipsy was a staple in the top 10 for a bout 2-3 years from 2010 to 2013 (ish). If he really is finally healthy, I suspect he could continue to surprise some people and despite Norrie favoring clay, I’ll just watch the re-surgence.
Zverev -3.5, -138
Querrey/Johnson ml, -108