The ATP World Tour moves on in this indoor segment of the season to Spain and Switzerland in week 43, with ATP 500 events the Valencia Open and Swiss Indoors.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal head the field in Basel, while in Valencia David Ferrer, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych are all chasing ranking points in the race to London.
And it was the activities of the aforementioned Murray – or more specifically Ferrer – that saw my 6.75 shot of a Ferrer 2-1 win over the Scot in Vienna fall agonisingly short on Sunday.
Ferrer served for the match and the 2-1 win at 5-3 in the third set in the Erste Bank Open final, but proceeded to lose the next four games and the match for a painful loss. Those on the set one to Ferrer would have profited nicely and it made for a great in-play bet, with Ferrer a 1.20 shot to serve it out at 5-3.
It’s a relaxed start to the week in Valencia, where there are only three matches on the schedule on Monday and one stands out as possible value to me.
Stefan Kozlov vs Martin Klizan
This opening round draw could well be tricky for Klizan, who withdrew from Vienna last week with a recurrence of the wrist issue that has been troubling him on and off for a while.
Under the circumstances the Slovak’s motivation could be brought into question at this late stage of the season and 16-year-old Kozlov, who made the finals of the junior Wimbledon and Australian Opens this year may not be an easy starter.
The American youngster is making his ATP World Tour 500 level debut as a wild card here, but he’s already made an impact on the Challenger circuit, where he made the final in Sacramento a fortnight ago.
Kozlov defeated the likes of Tim Smyczek and Ryan Harrison before losing to Sam Querrey in the final there, which is surely good enough form to test Klizan if he’s below par.
He has played a tour match before, which was at 250 level on grass as a 15-year-old when he went the distance with the then 113 ranked Michal Przysiezny and the +1.5 sets at 2.35 seems a decent odds-against punt here.
Over at the Swiss Indoors Rafa Nadal plays his opening round match today on a schedule that contains four round one clashes starting from 13:30 UK time.
Rafael Nadal vs Simone Bolelli
Under the circumstances I think we have to take a bit of a chance on Bolelli in this one, with all sorts of concerns over the Spaniard.
I’m not entirely sure why Nadal would play here while suffering from appendicitis, but the latest seems to be that he’s put off the operation for now and is dosing himself up with antibiotics.
I’m no doctor, but that doesn’t seem wise to me, and given that he’s had adverse reactions to antibiotics before it’s anyone’s guess as to how his body will react come 17:30 UK time tonight when he takes on Bolelli.
Rafa himself says: “I am not 100 per cent sure what is going to happen. I haven't practised well enough or enough times,” which, of course, is the other factor.
He was already severely lacking in match practice from the wrist injury, so he’s only played four matches since June 23.
These indoor conditions have never been to his liking anyway, with his vicious top spin not reacting as well indoors and Bolelli did take a set from Rafa in their only indoor clash in Rotterdam back in 2009.
Bolelli also has the advantage of having played a couple of qualifying matches here and he’ll never have a better chance to beat Nadal than this, so he should be motivated.
The 3.20 on Bolelli to win or 2.80 about him to win the first set look like reasonable choices in this one.
In today’s other matches I would expect Marcel Granollers, who has a great record here, to beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in Valencia, but David Goffin is plenty short enough against Dominic Thiem in Basel.
Goffin has beaten Thiem three times, but because of that he’s too short at this late stage of the campaign and maybe the set handicap on the Austrian might be a better choice than 1.38 on the Belgian.
Carlos Berlocq and Donald Young looks a real toss-up, with their two career meetings having ended 6-0, 6-0, to Berlocq and 6-2, 6-2 to Young.
I gave Young a chance against an Argentine last week and he failed miserably to Leo Mayer and I’m not prepared to go down that road again this week.
I would expect Edouard Roger-Vasselin to get the better of Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the other match in Basel, but not with any great confidence.
Back Kozlov +1.5 sets to beat Klizan at 2.35
Back Bolelli to beat Nadal at 3.20