There’s round one and two action from Austria and Washington DC to look forward to on Tuesday on day two of week 31 on the 2015 ATP World Tour.
The week didn’t get off to the brightest of starts when Pablo Carreno-Busta led by a break in both sets against Federico Delbonis, but ended up losing in straight sets – rather like Fabio Fognini did on Sunday.
I wouldn’t really argue with the result in fairness, as Delbonis handled the very tight turnaround from Bundesliga very well and deserved his win on the balance of play in that one.
But it was a perfect start in Washington DC at the Citi Open with ‘sure thing’ Victor Estrella Burgos winning, as did the ‘long shot’ double of Donald Young and Ricardas Berankis at a tasty 5.46.
It’s set to be hot again in DC today, where six underdogs won a year ago in the second round, with Malek Jaziri’s 4.65 win over Radek Stepanek being the pick.
Lukas Lacko vs Steve Johnson
The short-priced options in Kitzbuhel look less than certainties to me on Tuesday, so it’s over to the Citi Open in Washington DC for today’s ‘sure thing’ wager.
Andreas Haider-Maurer was last seen being bagelled by Jiri Vesely, while Philipp Kohlschreiber has a patchy record in Kitzbuhel and probably Dusan Lajovic might be the best of the short ones in Austria.
It looks a little too obvious though, with Mikhail Youzhny in such wretched form, and the last time Lajovic was a 1.3 shot he lost to Luca Vanni, so I’ll take my chances in America’s capital instead.
Lacko has lost 16 of his last 18 matches against top-50 opposition and although he’s played Johnson tough twice in 2015 he’s lost both times and the American on home soil is usually a tough nut to crack on hard courts.
Indeed, Johnson defeated Lacko a week ago in Atlanta and he made the quarter finals in DC 12 months ago, beating John Isner and Ivo Karlovic in consecutive matches.
Johnson has won three of his four as a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite on outdoor hard, with the only loss coming, surprisingly, to Pablo Andujar, but it was in slow conditions at Indian Wells.
Lacko has a dire record as a 3.40 underdog and bigger, having lost 36 of his 40 at that price on all surfaces and 16 of his 17 on outdoor hard courts, with his only win in today’s conditions coming against Lleyton Hewitt in Atlanta back in 2010.
Alexandr Dolgopolov is another option at around the same price, while Sam Querrey should get past Go Soeda, but the latter has been in reasonable form in the last week or two and Querrey is rather short in price.
Marcos Baghdatis is a slightly riskier option, but if he’s fit he should face few problems with Guido Pella.
Sam Groth vs Thomaz Bellucci
This is a tough test for Bellucci coming straight from clay at altitude in Europe to a quick hard court in stifling heat in Washington DC against a big server like Groth.
Bellucci’s record on the quicker surfaces in North America isn’t great, with five losses from his last six in New York, a 1-4 record in both Cincy and at the Rogers Cup, 0-2 in completed matches in Winston-Salem, and 1-1 here in Washington.
It suggests that opponents can get on top of the Brazilian when he isn’t allowed the time on the ball he likes to have to dictate the play and his record against big servers isn’t good either.
Bellucci is 3-12 on outdoor hard against the big servers in my database and he’s lost eight of his last 12 as an underdog on outdoor hard in the USA.
I’m surprised that he didn’t play Kitzbuhel this week given that he’s in the mix with Pablo Cuevas, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Fabio Fognini, Martin Klizan and more for a seeded spot in New York, which is his stated aim and points are surely easier for him to earn there than here.
Groth has improved his backhand this year and that will come in useful against lefty Bellucci, and he’s won his last five in a row against left-handers, including one over Feli Lopez on grass.
Given all of the above it looks a reasonable bet that Groth, who played in similar conditions last week in Atlanta, will win this one.
Nothing in Kitzbuhel really appeals to me in terms of value bets, with perhaps Jurgen Melzer about the best choice as underdog against Daniel Gimeno-Traver
Hyeon Chung vs Marin Cilic
If you fancy staying up until 02:00 UK time to watch some tennis from Washington DC it might prove worth it to back Chung to take the first set from our US Open champion at 3.30.
Cilic hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon and it might take him a while to get used to conditions here in Washington, where he hasn’t played since 2010.
I said yesterday that Chung could be a good underdog against Dudi Sela and so it proved, with the 19-year-old handing the Israeli a 6-2, 6-1 defeat and creating 13 break points in the process.
Today’s opponent couldn’t be more different to Sela in the imposing Cilic, but with Chung in confident mood he has the ability to take advantage of any rustiness from the Croatian.
Chung has shown no real nerves when facing the likes of Tomas Berdych already in his career and if Cilic has one of those days where his forehand goes to pot Chung could at least make this reasonably close.
Sure thing: Back Johnson to beat Lacko at 1.30
Value bet: Back Groth to beat Bellucci at 1.68
Long shot: Back Chung to win set one vs Cilic at 3.30