TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) takes a look at Thursday's action at the US Open from Flushing Meadows.
Day 3 delivered mixed, albeit profitable, results for this US Open column. The day started terribly as Lara Arruabarrena who I selected to win a set in her match against Barbora Strycova didn’t come anywhere close to achieving that target scoring just the one game over the course of two sets in an embarrassing defeat for her, and for me.
However, John Isner and Nicolas Jarry secured profit for the day when they conspired to a first set tiebreak at odds of 7/5. The pair would go on to have a dramatic tussle over five sets which Isner won with an inspired lob to break Jarry at the death.
Today’s matches look tough to call from the off with plenty of sharp markets and I will be doing most of my work in-play today.
However, there are one or two positions I am keen to take from the off.
Mikhail Kukushkin v Hyeon Chung | Thursday 30th August 2018, 16:00 | Amazon Prime.
The second match I will have a pre-match stake on is for Kazakh player Mikhail Kukuhskin to defeat Hyeon Chung.
Mikhail Kukushkin has had several decent runs at the US Open in recent seasons, reaching the third round in three of his past five attempts. In the first round he easily dealt with in-form American wildcard Noah Rubin, who currently sits at a career high ranking.
Kukushkin defeated David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov at the US Open in the past couple of years and he shouldn’t fear Hyeon Chung who has lost much of his early season lustre.
Chung made the semi final of the Australian Open and had some decent results on the US hardcourts in the Spring. His momentum was halted by a couple of injuries and he is still struggling to find the form that so impressed at the start of the year.
In his first round match Chung was fortunate not to go 2 sets down to Ricardas Berankis, who failed to serve out a two set lead and to convert leads in the second set tiebreak. Although Berankis is very direct in his style of play he rarely troubles players at the higher ranked positions. It was therefore a surprise to see Chung struggle so badly. Chung is playing as a seeded player in his first Grand Slam and will only meet his seeding expectation if he wins this match. I am yet to be convinced that Chung deals with that kind of pressure very well, as he is yet to score a title at ATP tour level.
Kukushkin is a scrappy baseline player and with his track record you could see him asking Chung some questions in this match. I will personally be backing Kukushkin on the betting exchanges where I can trade out depending on what I see during the matchup. For those seeking a pre-match bet, Kukushkin can be backed at a best price 12/5 with Sportingbet.
Benoit Paire v Roger Federer | Thursday 30th August 2018, 19:00 | Amazon Prime
Whilst Roger Federer leads the head-to-head meetings 6/0 and starts the match as a 1/20 favourite I believe that Benoit Paire can give a better account of himself than the odds suggest.
Benoit Paire is a mercurial talent capable of doing wonderful things on his day. In his first round match he lived close to the wind by taking plenty of risks, which ultimately can unsettle an opponent.
I certainly don’t expect Federer to be daunted by Paire, but the great Swiss will likely be wary of their last meeting at Halle prior to Wimbledon. The match was settled by a final set tie break in which Paire had chances to win.
Paire kept Federer honest by playing with reckless abandon and by using his technical tools to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Since the start of the grass season Federer hasn’t been quite the same player that was winning everything during 2017 and much of 2018. His return of serve in particular can be unreliable, and whilst it takes a decent level of opponent to exploit this it is not beyond Paire’s potential to do so.
Paire has suggested in his media comments that he wants to give a good account of himself during the US Open as he has had the best record of any French player in Grand Slam events this season and he hopes another fine showing will see him called up to represent his nation to in Davis Cup matches before the end of the season.
Despite how well Paire plays in this match – and it can be anywhere between great or ridiculous – I still imagine Federer comes out on top.
However, I do think a motivated Paire can keep this competitive for spells of this match, and my betting angle in this match is similar to yesterday’s successful approach to Isner and Jarry.
I first eyed up the price of a first set tie break between Federer and Paire, but instead I will opt for the more conservative market of over 9.5 games played in the first set, which is available at 11/10 with Ladbrokes. The bet will land provided Paire is competitive for most of the set, allowing him to lose the set with a single service break at either 6/4 or 7/5. This is favourable given Federer’s reputation as being effective at striking late in sets.
Mikhail Kukushkin v Hyeon Chung – Kukushkin to win (12/5 Sporting Bet)
Benoit Paire v Roger Federer – Over 9.5 games in Set 1 (11/10 Ladbrokes)