Malisse v Kunitsyn:
Malisse leads the head to heads 2-0. They have never played on clay.
Malisse hasn’t played an event on clay since the French open last year. he actually has a decent game for the US clay courts which look to be playing quite quickly.
Kunitsyn also hasn’t played on clay since the French. His game isn’t as well suited to the dirt and he has won just 1 match in his last 10.
As ever the starting price of 1.40 is tight to say the least. I will wait before backing Malisse. I am doing this partly to take a look at how he starts the match. If he looks interested then I will look to get on him at anything above 1.60 to 1.70 .
Update: Malisse wasn’t over impressive in the early games but was serving ok. I placed a small back on him but didn’t add to it as they neared the end of the set. The plan was to add more if Kunitsyn won the set. Malisse was serving for the set and went break point down. He hit what he thought was a winner to get back to deuce but Kunitsyn queried the call and the umpire checked the mark and over ruled the call giving Kunitsyn the set. Malisse reacted angrily hitting a ball into the net. Malisse can be sulky at times and I felt this might affect his concentration in the early part of the second set. I moved my green onto Kunitsyn. This proved to be a good move as he took a 3-0 lead and I was able to greeen out for a profit.
Kunitsyn won 6-4, 6-2.
Ito v Soeda:
Battle of the Japanese. Go Soeda leads the head to heads 5-1 although they have never played on clay.
Both have shown decent form on the faster courts. Both have concentrated on the Challenger events lately and have done well. Soeda has won his last 2 tournaments and Ito won 1 title and reached 2 more semi finals.
Soeda has some respectable results on the clay although this is a rare outing on the slow courts.
Soeda has show the greatest improvement in the last 12 months and I see no reason to expect him not to win this one on the “fastish” clay in Houston.
I will be backing him from the start but will hold some stake back to add at a higher price if we get an early break against him.
Update: Both looked uneasy in the early games. Ito was first to break but was immediately broken back. Both men were striking the ball well but then lost the points with simple errors. I had to leave the match towards the end of the first set which went to Ito. He also took a tight second set to win 6-4, 7-5. Moderate red for me on this one. The early break back from Soeda brought some profit but watching the game I felt Ito was slightly better but their previous matches made me wary. In the end it was this indecision that cost me.