Murray to ease past Argentine clay-courter
Wawrinka favourite for rare win
Thiem the best bet of the day
Improving Reidi could test injury-hit Draper
As with yesterday, action in California gets underway at 1900 UK time, running through well into the early hours, and despite seeds not joining the event until tomorrow, there's plenty to run through as round one continues.
There's several matches involving British players with Jack Draper facing the Swiss qualifier, Leandro Riedi, who has had a decent start to the season having won two matches (albeit against lower-ranked opposition) in qualifying to be here but also picking up his first ATP Tour win in Marseille several weeks ago, plus reaching the final in the Canberra Challenger in January.
This continues an excellent run of form for Riedi, who also picked up two Challenger titles indoors in November, propelling him from just inside the top 300 to just outside the top 100. Such a level of improvement definitely gives him a fighting chance against the talented Brit, Draper, who is yet to return to main tour action following his gallant loss to Rafa Nadal in the Australian Open - a hip injury forcing him out of events. Riedi is the 2.6613/8 underdog for this.
Murray should ease past Etcheverry
Draper's fellow Brit, Andy Murray, knows all about hip problems with the Scotsman continuing to defy both his metal hip and his age, on the verge of rejoining the top 50 in the world. A run to the final of Doha - despite facing tricky situations in all matches - shows that Murray still has plenty of fight left in him, and he's 1.321/3 favourite against the Argentine clay-courter, Tomas Etcheverry.
Etcheverry reached the final of the Santiago ATP event last week on clay, and should enjoy the slower conditions more than Murray. However, Murray will still be a big test for a player yet to crack the top 50 himself at the age of 23, and Etcheverry's record on hard court in his career so far has been absolutely woeful.
Wawrinka favourite to pick up rare hard court victory
Murray's fellow former top 10 rival Stan Wawrinka is also at a similar stage of his career, with the Swiss man a 1.4840/85 solid favourite against the Australian qualifier, Aleksandar Vukic. Wawrinka has picked up a few wins indoors of late but all came as a strong or solid market favourite, and he had a disappointing five-set loss at the Australian Open in round one against Alex Molcan.
Having said that, it would still be a surprise if Wawrinka was seriously challenged by Vukic, who turns 27 shortly and has never broken the top 100. Interestingly, a win here would be Wawrinka's first hard court win on the main tour since February 2021, when he beat Pedro Sousa at the Australian Open - he's 0-6 since then on the surface.
Conditions right for Thiem to advance past Mannarino
With this somewhat being a theme today, another former top 10 regular who is struggling to recapture his best is Dominic Thiem. The Austrian has been in very poor form this year, going 1-7 for the season including Davis Cup matches, a run which has been a little surprising as it looked like Thiem was getting back to picking up some regular wins on tour with two semi-finals indoors towards the end of last season.
However, Mannarino isn't exactly flying this year (or towards the end of last year either) and has a long-term poor record in slow conditions, being somewhat of a fast conditions specialist.
The Frenchman is also 1-8 in his career against Thiem, with his only win being via retirement on grass, a surface where the two players ability levels would be more even.
If Thiem can't get the job done against Mannarino on a slow hard court, then he has even more problems than I thought. The 1.9520/21 price about Thiem today shows the market is finding it tough to split the duo, but I'm keener to side with Thiem here as opposed to a player who has consistently found only a mediocre level in slower conditions.