The ATP World Tour moves on in week six to the United States, Netherlands and Brazil, with action on indoor hard and clay to focus on this week.
We signed off from week five with two winners from two bets and one void when my long shot Victor Estrella Burgos defeated Feli Lopez in Quito and the overs was successful in Zagreb.
Estrella’s victory was a sweet one after numerous losses from match points up last week and the 34-year-old from the Dominican Republic earned us a 2.95 winner.
I said yesterday that the Montpellier final might be affected by illness and so it proved when Jerzy Janowicz retired after just three games against Richard Gasquet.
Week six sees the first ATP 500 event of the year take place and that’s the €1.7m prize fund ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam on indoor hard.
This 30-year-old tournament, held at the Ahoy Stadium, is now played on a slowish Proflex surface, which I recall being on the slow side on the Centre Court last year.
They have five matches on their schedule for day one, while there are three first round matches in play at the Brazil Open on the clay in Sao Paulo today.
This ATP 250 event on the Golden Swing is another at altitude, so it’s usually on the quick side here, although there have been comments already that it’s not as fast as last year at the moment.
In the USA they play the Memphis Open, an indoor hard court ATP 250 event on a Latex-ite surface, which is medium paced at best.
We start early in Rotterdam at 10:00 UK time where an opportunity exists in the opening match.
Simone Bolelli vs Lukas Rosol
These two big servers also have really poor stats when it comes to returning, with Rosol breaking serve only 17 percent of the time and Bolelli only 13 percent in the full 2014 season.
That would make the 1.61 about the first set going over 9.5 games a decent pick in this first meeting between the Italian and the Czech.
Both rely very heavily on a big delivery and forehand, although Bolelli has power in his one-handed backhand too, and he has a slight edge overall, but it should be tight to start off, with opportunities to break serve at a premium.
Interestingly and quite strangely, all seven of Bolelli’s first sets this season have ended 6-3, so he’s due a longer one, while Rosol has gone over 9.5 in his last five in a row.
Blaz Rola vs Nicolas Almagro
The Spaniard is stepping up his comeback from a foot injury and he looked to be in fine ball striking touch in Melbourne, where he gave Kei Nishikori a very good test before fading a little.
This Sao Paulo clash at 23:00 UK time tonight with Rola looks a much gentler introduction back to the tour and he will be my ‘sure thing’ today at around the 1.25 mark.
Journeyman clay courter Rola is 0-6 against the top-50 in the world and he’s lost his last eight against the top-100.
His two top-100 wins came on grass against Pablo Andujar and on hard against Federico Delbonis and he’s done nothing to suggest that his level is near to good enough to win this, even against a slightly rusty Almagro.
David Goffin vs Gilles Muller
Back to Rotterdam for my ‘long shot’ today and I’m going to take Goffin to edge this tricky-looking clash with Muller 2-1 at a price of around 4.0.
Goffin has a perfect 5-0 record on indoor hard against the big servers on my list, with wins over Milos Raonic, Rosol, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner and Albano Olivetti.
The four of those played at tour level all ended in 2-1 successes for Goffin, who will probably have to go the distance again, having struggled badly for form so far in 2015.
A quicker surface would probably have tempted me into siding with underdog Muller, but I recall this Centre Court being a bit of a pudding and the Luxembourg lefty might find it too slow for him in Rotterdam.
Muller has been in rare form of late, rising up the rankings to a career high 36 at the age of 31, but his record against the top-20 or so isn’t great and the Belgian will be determined to tough this one out after a slow start to the season.
Sure thing: Back Almagro to beat Rola at 1.25
Value bet: Back over 9.5 games in set one of Bolelli/Rosol at 1.61
Long shot: Back Goffin to beat Muller 2-1 at 4.0