Sean Calvert is not happy about events at the Sony Open yesterday and is hoping to restore order today by backing David Nalbandian in a battle of the veterans against Jarkko Nieminen...
It was a strange and frankly extremely frustrating beginning to the 2013 Sony Open on Wednesday, with both of my fancies losing in bizarre circumstances.
My recommended bet of the day on Benoit Paire went down when the certifiable Frenchman blew a handful of set points and then lost the plot in a bad tempered affair against Michael Llodra.
The utterly unfathomable decision by the tournament not to show any of the early matches on TV or stream denied us the chance to see Paire and Llodra in what was reportedly a comical match that apparently ended with nothing approaching a handshake at the net.
Clearly there's no love between those two but even odder was Roberto Bautista Agut retiring after winning the first set 6-3 over Grega Zemlja. It must have been pretty serious for the Spaniard to pull out whilst leading, but it didn't do much for my mood last night.
Today's play in Key Biscayne features a host of matches that really could go either way, with 11 of today's 16 ATP matches being priced up with a favourite at 1.51/2 or higher and at least five matches looking more or less dead even.
Of the outsiders, probably Lukas Lacko at 2.89/5 against Ivan Dodig and Pablo Andujar at 2.9215/8 against Viktor Troicki look the best value, but I prefer to stick with David Nalbandian after he let us down last week at Indian Wells.
The Argentine takes on old foe Jarkko Nieminen in the match of the day this evening and 'El Rey' takes an 8-4 head-to-head lead over the Finn into today's clash.
Jerzy Janowicz played his one and only decent match of the season to defeat Nalbandian last week, while we profited from Nieminen's straight sets thumping at the hands of Kevin Anderson.
Nieminen has a shocking record on these slow Miami courts and has won just one match here since 2007 when he recorded one of his four wins over Nalbandian.
The big Latin contingent in Miami will be fully behind Nalbandian, who has won five of the last six against the Finn and looks good to do so again at around 1.584/7.
Jarkko's serve is very breakable in these slow conditions and a good returner like Nalbandian should carve out more than enough chances to win this one.
He does tend to suffer a bit closing matches out these days and the 2-1 Nalbandian win appeals at 4.3100/30, but I think he'll come through this with enough to spare to cover a minus 2.5 game handicap at 1.834/5.
Back Nalbandian -2.5 games to beat Nieminen at 1.834/5