Wolf gives us a day one winner
Sonego favourite to continue Thiem's misery
Giron a false underdog against Garin
Wolf roars but Murray and Isner exit
We picked up a relatively stress-free winner in Florida last night with JJ Wolf easing past Alexander Bublik in straight sets, although there were some big names exiting already on the opening day, including Andy Murray and John Isner.
The 32 seeded players with first-round byes are yet to start their tournaments, with the second round starting on Friday, so again we are faced with a schedule featuring generally quite low-profile players, and again, a number of clay-courters.
Thiem's struggles could continue
Arguably the clash of the round features Lorenzo Sonego versus wild-card Dominic Thiem, with the Austrian, Thiem, still ranked outside the top 100 as his comeback to tour continues to underwhelm.
Previously a staple of the top five, Thiem's numbers in 2023 are seriously poor (just over 92% combined service/return points won), and this inspires little confidence in him turning this run around any time soon.
The market agrees, making Sonego the 1.758/11 favourite to progress, and this line is difficult to dispute, even considering the uninspiring record of the Italian on hard court in recent times.
Garin overvalued after Indian Wells run
Moving on, I don't think Denis Kudla should be underdog against the serve-oriented Chris Eubanks, in their all-American clash. Kudla is currently trading at 2.245/4, and while his season hasn't been impressive so far, neither has Eubanks, and it feels like Eubanks will need to serve pretty well if he is to inflict a knockout blow on his countryman.
I'm also surprised that Marcos Giron is a slight 2.186/5 underdog against the clay-courter, Christian Garin. I can't help thinking the markets have overvalued Garin after reaching round four at Indian Wells and beating Casper Ruud in the process, but the ultra-slow conditions in California would really have suited the Chilean.
Giron has lost to pretty solid opposition this season - Norrie, Medvedev, Fritz, Tiafoe - and his 2023 numbers across surfaces are marginally better than Garin's.
Particularly on serve, that's also the case on hard court and I think Giron has been priced up as a false underdog here - I'd have the prices the other way around.
Gasquet should have too much for O'Connell
Finally, Richard Gasquet hasn't won consecutive matches for several months, since his shock triumph at ATP Auckland, but should have a little too much for the lucky loser, Christian O'Connell.
2023 data suggests that the veteran Frenchman has the edge, with better return numbers by a reasonable margin, and while Gasquet's level is pretty variable these days, I'd expect him to take the win here - he looks a very justified favourite at the current 1.845/6.