Week 31 of the ATP World Tour sees the players at altitude on the clay in Kitzbuhel and in physically demanding conditions on hard courts in Washington DC.
We signed off from what was at times an excellent week 20 with a loss for ‘long shot’ Fabio Fognini, who really should have done a lot better against Rafael Nadal, but just couldn’t get the killer blow in against the former world number one.
Again, it was a bitty performance from Nadal and Fognini led by a break in both sets and had two set points in the second, but somehow contrived to lose the match in two.
But there was better news for ‘sure thing’ backers later on in Atlanta when John Isner eased past a hobbled Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets to provide a winner in that match.
This week’s ATP action takes place at 762m of altitude at the Generali Open Kitzbuhel, with seven top-50 ranked players in attendance at this clay tournament, which is a few hundred metres lower than Gstaad last week.
In Washington DC the Citi Open is a combined ATP/WTA event that has ATP 500 status and has attracted the likes of Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori this year.
Usually it plays fast on a Deco-Turf outdoor hard court and it’s normally brutally hot in DC for this tournament.
Round one of the 2014 Citi Open provided only three underdog winners from 16 matches, with Malek Jaziri’s 3.18 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky the pick of the prices.
Kitzbuhel’s opening round last year saw five odds-against winners from 12 matches, with Paolo Lorenzi’s 3.0 success over Robin Haase the best of them.
Pablo Carreno-Busta vs Federico Delbonis
Usually I find that the layers have PCB priced up too short, but today it could be a different story, as the Spaniard should have a distinct edge over the Argentine in terms of familiarity of the conditions.
Delbonis often has an odd schedule and on Sunday he played singles and doubles in Germany in Bundesliga, leaving him no time to adjust to the substantial switch in conditions before this Monday morning start in Kitzbuhel.
In singles yesterday Delbonis beat Dustin Brown, despite the German serving for both sets, and then the Argentine lost to Brown in the doubles, but it’s the lack of any knowledge of the conditions that could be his undoing here.
PCB played some decent tennis at altitude last week in Gstaad, where he made the quarters before losing to the red-hot Dominic Thiem in three sets, and PCB looks a decent value bet here in the circumstances.
Victor Estrella Burgos vs Nicolas Jarry
It’s fairly slim pickings for short-priced punters on Monday, with Estrella looking the best option at around 1.26 against Jarry in Washington DC at around 21:00 UK time.
The pair have played twice on clay, with the veteran winning both times, while 19-year-old wild card Jarry has lost his last five matches and he’s yet to win a single match on hard courts on the ATP Tour.
Indeed, Jarry has only won one match in total on the tour and that was against 309-ranked Gonzalo Escobar at altitude in Quito on clay back in February this year.
Since then he’s played Futures and Challengers without making a final and Jarry’s only win on a hard court as a professional in a completed match was in a Futures in Guatemala back in 2014 when he beat number 558 Henrique Cunha.
He has been played in hard in the last few weeks, but with no success, and losses to the powder puff Yoshihito Nishioka and Nicolas Meister were the results of those endeavours.
Estrella played okay on hard in Bogota and he’s had plenty of time to prepare for this event, so it would be a really poor loss for him if he didn’t win today, especially after making the last-16 here a year ago beating Feli Lopez on the way.
Donald Young vs Tommy Haas
I like the chances of Young in this one as underdog against the hobbled veteran Haas and the American can be combined with Ricardas Berankis in a double that would pay a tasty 5.46.
Young has tournaments where he does well and tournaments where he doesn’t and we scored easily with Gilles Muller to beat Young last week in Atlanta where he plays poorly, but Washington DC is different.
Perhaps the pressure of playing at home works against him in Atlanta, but here in DC he made the semi finals last year and he has a 9-4 record in the main draw at the Citi Open.
Haas’ fitness is always under question and even more so these days in his 38th year and the brutally hot conditions here in DC aren’t likely to be ideal for the German, who lost his only prior career meeting with Young.
Lu looks a little short to me at 1.52 against Berankis at a tournament where he’s only managed to win one of his five matches and lost his last four.
He lost 6-1, 6-4 to Lukas Lacko here a year ago and it doesn’t appear that conditions have suited him so far in his career.
Berankis has been playing well lately, with a Challenger final backed up by wins over Steve Johnson and Tim Smyczek in Atlanta before running into John Isner and he also played very well in defeat to Marin Cilic at Wimbledon.
Other underdogs in with good chances today include Nishioka against Alexander Zverev and Hyeon Chung against Dudi Sela, while Robin Haase can beat Juan Monaco in Kitzbuhel.
Sure thing: Back Estrella Burgos to beat Jarry at 1.26
Value bet: Back Carreno-Busta to beat Delbonis at 1.96
Long shot: Back Young and Berankis in a double at 5.46