- Chris Sobey
The 2017 ATP Tennis season is now well underway and six of my seven outright selections this week Murray (6/4), Karlovic (40/1), Raonic (11/2) Cilic (2/1), Klizan (18/1) and Bedene (66/1) are all still in action. All of the first round matches are now complete at Brisbane, Doha and Chennai and at Brisbane there were no major upsets in the first round. There was a good mix of experienced pros and NextGen stars that progressed to the second round and Nadal, Ferrer, Dimitrov and Troicki all impressed seeing off talented opposition in straight sets.
NextGen stars Schwartzman, qualifier Donaldson and Pouille also impressed winning their respective first round matches against more experienced opposition like Querrey, Muller and Simon. At the time of writing the top-four seeds this week Raonic, Wawrinka, Nishikori and Thiem were due to get their campaigns underway. Wawrinka and Nishikori played their respective matches against Troicki and Donaldson in the early hours of this morning, while Raonic and Thiem play in the early hours of tomorrow morning against Schwartzman and Groth respectively.
At Doha, world number one and two Murray and Djokovic got their campaigns off to a winning start. Murray had little trouble seeing off Chardy in straight sets, but Djokovic had to recover from a double break down in the first set against Struff, eventually winning in straight sets also. All the other seeds Berdych, Goffin, Tsonga, Karlovic and Kohlschreiber progressed to the second round and eighth seed Baghdatis was the only seed not to progress as he retired injured when a set and a break down against veteran qualifier Stepanek.
Murray and Djokovic have straightforward second round matches today against lowly opposition, third seed Berdych faces a tough test against the dangerous Vesely today, and the Czech leads the head-to-head 3-0. Fourth seed Goffin faces a tough test against veteran Verdasco today, and the head-to-head stands at 2-2. Goffin won the last two encounters in 2015 and 2016 on hard courts and clay, and both matches were extremely close encounters.
Fifth seed Tsonga plays Brown today, which should be a highly entertaining match full of big serves, aces and plenty of attacking flair. Sixth seed Karlovic faces a stern test today against NextGen star Karen Khachanov and the veteran Croatian leads the head-to-head 2-0, which both came on hard courts back in 2013, and last year indoors at Vienna. Finally, seventh seed and veteran Kohlschreiber faces a stern test today against veteran Almagro and the head-to-head stand at 6-4 to Almagro, who won the last three encounters between 2012 and 2016 all on clay.
At Chennai, top-two seeds Cilic and Bautista Agut get their campaigns underway today and tomorrow against Kovalik and Dutra Silva respectively, and both should progress in comfortable fashion. All the other seeds progressed to the second round yesterday, accept sixth seed and 2015 finalist Coric, who lost against fellow NextGen star and qualifier Chung from Korea.
From a match betting perspective there’s a second round double at Chennai that should return a profit. Paire and Chung both to win pays over 2/1; Paire plays Indian qualifier Bhambri who is ranked over 400 and Chung plays veteran Sela who he beat at Washington 6-2 6-1 back in 2015.