The Australian Open is done and dusted and the ATP World Tour is back in week of the season, with three ATP 250 tournaments in play this week around the world.
In Europe there’s the Open Sud de France indoors in Montpellier and the PBZ Zagreb Indoors in Croatia, while over in South America they play at altitude in the Ecuador Open Quito.
Conditions are usually on the quick side in Montpellier and Zagreb, while it should also be very lively on the clay in Quito, with that city being the highest altitude capital city in the world at 2,800 metres.
Joao Sousa vs Laurent Lokoli
This looks a pretty good match up for the Portuguese scrapper, who will surely be far too consistent for the erratic French wild card in this 18:00 UK time clash in Montpellier.
Sousa has a very good record indoors, with a runner-up spot in Metz last season and a title in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 and Lokoli would need a very good day to come away with the win in this one.
The world number 49 did pretty well in Melbourne in grinding a retirement out of Martin Klizan before being beaten by eventual finalist Andy Murray and that run to the last-32 has seen him climb back inside the world’s top-50.
Lokoli’s game is a bit on the raw side and the 20-year-old world number 259 was beaten by Andreas Haider-Maurer in Melbourne in four sets in a match where the Austrian’s consistency proved to be enough.
It should be a similar story on Monday and the 1.38 on Sousa is today’s ‘sure thing’.
Borna Coric vs Sergiy Stakhovsky
Young Croatian starlet Coric should be very much up for this clash in his home town of Zagreb at around 16:00 UK time and he looks a decent value bet at around the 1.78 mark to take down Stakhovsky.
After attracting the attention of the public at large when showing up well in Basel at the end of last season, where he defeated Rafa Nadal and Ernests Gulbis Coric has struggled for form a little bit at the start of this season.
He began well by defeating Robin Haase in Chennai, but hasn’t won since, and this looks a decent opportunity to return to form at his home tournament.
Stakhovsky is always tough to predict, with a tendency to switch between Challenger and Tour level, but he hasn’t been past the second round of an ATP World Tour event on indoor hard for two years now.
He’s only twice made it to quarter finals on indoor hard at Tour level since winning St Petersburg back in 2009 and Coric on his best form looks a class above the Ukrainian.
Despite there being three tournaments in play this week there are only seven round one matches scheduled for Monday in total and it looks a good day to watch and see how conditions unfold as far as Quito is concerned.
The altitude will no doubt have a big bearing on that tournament and the two matches scheduled in Quito today don’t appeal from a betting perspective to me.
Jerzy Janowicz vs Dustin Brown
This 20:00 UK time clash in Montpellier could be absolutely anything with Janowicz and Brown involved and it will certainly be worth watching if nothing else.
It’s fair to assume that there will be a few huge serves and lots of successful and unsuccessful drop shots in this one, along with some shots that aren’t in any coaching manuals.
If Brown finds his groove on serve he could easily come away with the win here and it’s worth a small investment on the German at 2.95 in the hope that he’s in the mood – because if he is this one is far from beyond him.
Brown should be pretty confident, having beaten Janowicz twice at Challenger level indoors back in 2012 and 2013, and although those two matches are too long ago to have much relevance the two players won’t have forgotten them.
As ever with Brown – and Janowicz to a great extent – much depends on what frame of mind they’re in when they arrive on court and for me JJ is a little short in price here in what is for him a very dangerous and tricky first round match.
Sure thing: Back Sousa to beat Lokoli at 1.38
Value bet: Back Coric to beat Stakhovksy at 1.78
Long shot: Back Brown to beat Janowicz at 2.95