Court speed in line with historical data
Friday's schedule focuses on the bottom half of the draw in the first round, with again most matches featuring some of the lesser lights of the ATP Tour - seeded players with first round byes get their tournament underway tomorrow.
On Thursday, it was interesting to see that again, conditions at Indian Wells were pretty slow. Completely in line with historical data, just 76% of service games were held (around 4% below the ATP hard court mean), with around 0.2 fewer aces per game served compared to the average hard court. This contributed to the tiebreaks per match figure also being low, and as I mentioned previously, be wary of betting tiebreaks in matches featuring big-servers in this tournament.
However, that's not necessarily a consideration for today's round one action, and while there's the usual caveat that round one matches are usually pretty tricky to price, there's a couple of spots which look of interest or worthy of discussion.
Humbert could be threatened by Rune
Falling into the latter bracket is Ugo Humbert versus Holger Rune, and the Frenchman, Humbert, has somehow managed to unlock a rare achievement - losing every match this year except beating Daniil Medvedev.
In fact, that win over Medvedev is Humbert's solitary win since the second week of August in Toronto, and that run of form is likely to contribute to his [1.9 ] line against the young Norwegian, Holger Rune. Rune has qualified to be here and tends to do his best work on clay - and these slower conditions might just be to his liking.
Veteran Gasquet needing improvement
Humbert's countryman, Richard Gasquet, hasn't hugely impressed over the last year or so and the veteran Frenchman is now running at around 97% combined service/return points won percentage in the last year on hard courts (indoor/outdoor). This level is below average, and markedly down on his best level from years gone by.
Furthermore, this level should give Oscar Otte a solid chance as a slight 2.186/5 underdog, particularly given Gasquet has also had some knee problems. Otte has done well at the Challenger level last year, although hasn't impressed as much in his attempts to step up on the main tour this season so far, but I don't see him as as an underdog against the current version of Gasquet.
Mannarino won't enjoy slower conditions
Continuing the French theme, Adrian Mannarino faces an intriguing clash against the talented American, Brandon Nakashima. I think it's fair to say that Nakashima has disappointed a little this year so far, given how well he played in 2021 when he burst onto the scene, but I'm hoping he gets back to winning ways tonight.
He's a slight favourite at [1.78 ] against Mannarino, and this line looks generous to me. Mannarino has done pretty well this year but there's a lack of context to that argument - his best performances have come in quicker conditions, in which he thrives. However, Mannarino really struggles when court speed is slower - his record on clay is disastrous - and this should play into Nakashima's favour.