The ATP World Tour features tournaments in Brazil, France and the United States in week seven, with action on clay, hard and indoor hard this week.
We signed off from week six with a couple of winners yesterday when Stan Wawrinka took down Tomas Berdych in three sets in Rotterdam and the overs comfortably landed in the Sao Paulo final.
Kei Nishikori landed his third straight Memphis title too comfortably for the 2-1 bet on the Japanese to land in what was comfortably his best effort at returning serve against a big hitter all week.
They play on the clay in Rio at the ATP 500 Rio Open, which is a joint ATP/WTA event into just its second year on the tour and conditions there are currently sweltering, so fitness will be tested to the limit.
In the United States the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open is played in windy conditions on slowish outdoor hard, while in France quick indoor hard court tennis is played at the Open 13 in Marseille.
It’s the usual slow start to the week, with only two first round matches in play in Marseille, four in Rio, and three at Delray Beach.
But there are several possible opportunities today that appeal, with today’s ‘sure thing’ taking place in France.
Lukas Rosol vs Sergiy Stakhovsky
Based on their most recent matches the gap between this pair at the moment is a yawning chasm, with Rosol absolutely atrocious last time out in Rotterdam, while Stakho made the quarter finals and almost the semis.
Rosol became a father last month, so perhaps he hasn’t done as much practicing as one would normally expect, and it showed at the Ahoy Arena, with even his serve looking well off the pace.
Stakho on the other hand looked great in the Netherlands, with a good win over Dominic Thiem backed up by a tight loss to Milos Raonic and the expected speed of these Marseille courts should help the Ukrainian’s game.
He should be able to attack the net as often as he likes and unless Rosol shows a massive improvement from last week it’s hard to see anything other than a Stakhovsky win in this 17:30 UK time start.
Aside from the awful showing against Simone Bolelli in Rotterdam, Rosol has also won just two of his last 14 matches going back all the way to after he made the final in Winston Salem last summer.
There are several options for a ‘value bet’ today, with Lukas Lacko looking a big price at 2.33 against Denis Kudla in Delray Beach, but I’m going to side with Albert Ramos in Rio instead.
Albert Ramos vs Andreas Haider-Maurer
The Austrian doesn’t have a good record at Tour level in South America, with just the one win so far in his career in this part of the world.
On the Golden Swing this season he’s been beaten by Gerald Melzer and Guido Pella and Ramos should be too solid for the temperamental Haider-Maurer.
Ramos looked in decent touch in Sao Paulo last week, with a good showing in the opening two sets against Leo Mayer before being overpowered, but AHM doesn’t have the kind of weapons that Mayer possesses.
The pair have met only once in their careers and it was last autumn on the clay of Bosnia at Challenger level and Ramos was a straight sets winner that day.
The Austrian has lost his last three against lefies, with Pella, Melzer and Facundo Bagnis all beating him in recent weeks and Ramos minus 2.5 games looks decent here in what will likely be a lengthy affair.
Dustin Brown vs Ivo Karlovic
There are a few outsiders that I quite like the look of today and they include Elias Ymer against Tommy Robredo and I wouldn’t be too keen on backing Jarkko Nieminen either in these circumstances.
The veteran Finn has never played a single match at any level in South America, which makes him a shaky favourite by itself against Marco Cecchinato today, with the latter having played twice in qualies so far.
But Brown has beaten Karlovic twice in the past and I’m not at all sure that these slowish conditions at Delray Beach will suit the Croatian and his results here seem to back up that theory.
Since losing in the final to Ernests Gulbis here in 2010 Karlovic has a 2-4 record, with one of the wins coming by retirement, and it doesn’t seem to be a favourite venue for Ivo, with the wind perhaps also playing a part.
Brown can’t really be trusted as anything other than a long shot, so the 2-1 win to him at 5.30 looks tempting, with Karlovic yet to beat Brown in his career.
I also have a bit of a sneaking feeling for the chances of Guilherme Clezar against Thiemo De Bakker, who won't find conditions in Rio as quick as Sao Paulo and the Dutchman could be vulnerable against a motivated Brazilian, with De Bakker having played seven matches in eight days in two cities.
Sure thing: Back Stakhovsky to beat Rosol at 1.45
Value bet: Back Ramos -2.5 games to beat Haider-Maurer at 1.78
Long shot: Back Brown to beat Karlovic 2-1 at 5.30