The ATP World Tour returns this week after a break for Davis Cup following the US Open and there are two ATP 250 events to focus on in Week 38.
The St Petersburg Open is played indoors and last year the conditions were very slow and more akin to playing on clay than hard, but without the ability to slide. I seem to recall it being one of the slowest, if not the slowest, indoor surface I’ve seen and the identity of the players in the latter stages highlighted that.
Last year’s first round matches in St Petersburg saw six underdogs win from 16 matches.
Jan-Lennard Struff vs Andrey Golubev
There are only three matches in round one of St Petersburg today and with Mikhail Youzhny being unbackable at around 1.02 and Victor Hanescu similarly short at 1.12, there is an opportunity to back Golubev in this 6pm UK time match.
The Russian-born Kazakh professes to love St Petersburg and he’ll enjoy the slow conditions here at an event where he reached the final as a qualifier in 2008, playing eight matches before losing to Andy Murray.
Times have been a lot harder for Golubev since then though and he generally plies his trade in Challengers these days. He was fortunate to make the main draw here when the alternates above him withdrew and I feel he’ll make the most of that opportunity today against the inexperienced Struff.
The German was singled out along with Tobias Kamke for criticism from the Davis Cup captain recently for lacking hunger and a trip to St Petersburg is not everyone’s cup of tea, so it will be interesting to see how he fares. The pair have met once in the past, which was on clay in Germany and Golubev won easily.
Struff is highly rated but was beaten by Niels Desein in a Challenger last week and this is his first ever match in the main draw of a tour level indoor hard court event. He’s also never played a match in Russia, so I’m siding with Golubev’s experience and desire here.
Back Golubev to beat Struff at 1.88
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