The ATP World Tour heads back to Europe this week after the Asian swing and we have three indoor tournaments in Moscow, Stockholm and Vienna to focus on in week 42.
We didn’t get any luck with the tie break in the Shanghai final on Sunday, but I did say that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to serve at his best to stand a chance and he was unable to do that.
In his own words: “Today I didn't serve well enough, especially in the first set.”
On to a new week, then, and the biggest event of week 42 is the Erste Bank Open, which has been upgraded to an ATP 500 tournament this year, and it’s being played in new conditions.
This year the surface is a Rebound Ace and they’re using Tretorn Serie +balls and the tournament director has said that he hopes the conditions are not too fast, which presumably means it’ll be on the slow side.
In Stockholm they use a slowish Plat It hard court and they’re using the new balls designed by Robin Soderling, who is now tournament director at the If Stockholm Open.
The Kremlin Cup in Moscow is a joint ATP/WTA tournament and they play on a slow Ru Kort surface, which is usually one of the slowest on tour.
Ernests Gulbis vs Lucas Miedler
There are a few options for ‘long shot’ punters on Monday, with this classic clash of the out of form and potentially still injured former top-10 star and the young local qualifier being one.
Gulbis has had a shocker of a year, with his ranking falling from number 13 at the start of the season to its current mark of 117, and he was last seen on a tennis court retiring in Shenzhen to John Millman.
Indeed, fears linger about the wrist of the Latvian, who has retired in two of his last three matches with that particular issue, and I certainly wouldn’t be even considering him as a bet at 1.10 today (or most days).
Miedler got a wild card into qualifying and did well with it, beating Michael Berrer, who has had such a good season that he’s delayed his retirement plans, without facing a break point.
This is a big step up for the 19-year-old in terms of his level, which is usually Futures, but Berrer gives you nothing, and to beat him in that manner suggests he’s up to a crack at Gulbis.
The crazy Latvian has lost his last six matches and won only eight in the main draw all season – with just four in straight sets.
The +1.5 sets on Miedler is a more than viable ‘long shot’ today at 2.85.
Joao Sousa vs Daniel Gimeno-Traver
The ‘sure thing’ for Monday has to be the very capable Sousa, who tends to perform well in these ATP 250 tournaments on slow indoor hard, such as this week’s event in Moscow.
And he looks to have a cosy starter against the out of form clay specialist Daniel Gimeno-Traver, who began the season really well, but tailed off very badly to the point where he’s lost 15 of his last 17 matches.
A finalist in Casablanca; semi finalist next time out in Bucharest and quarter finalist (lost to Federer) in Istanbul after that things looked good for DGT, but since then, nothing.
His last two matches have been losses to Thiemo de Bakker at Challenger level on clay and though he did make the semis on slow indoor hard in St Petersburg three years ago his overall record indoors reads 5-13 and he’s won only one of his last 10 since that run in Russia.
Sousa has made two finals and a semi final indoors in the last two seasons and in these conditions it’s hard to see an out of touch DGT beating him.
Radu Albot vs Andrey Kuznetsov
This price of 1.29 on Kuznetsov seems very short to me, considering his record of losing 12 of his 16 matches in the main draw of ATP World Tour events on indoor hard.
Only once has the Russian been past the second round of indoor hard tournaments on the tour and he’s lost in round one nine times, which hardly inspires me to back him at 1.29 against the capable Moldovan Albot.
Albot defeated Viktor Troicki in straight sets in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago on indoor hard, so he’s hardly a mug at this level, and he pushed Sousa to a final set indoors in St. Petersburg too.
Kuznetsov’s game is all about power, but it lacks a fair bit in terms of patience and shot selection, and in these slow indoor conditions in Moscow it’s asking a lot for him to win this match in two sets.
For me the Russian’s recent results, which have been pretty good, has made him too short today, considering he hasn’t played on indoor hard since March.
Sure thing: Back Sousa to beat Gimeno-Traver at 1.23
Value bet: Back Albot +1.5 sets at 1.88
Long shot: Back Miedler +1.5 sets at 2.85