The ATP World Tour heads to Basel and Valencia in week 43 for two indoor tournaments as the regular season heads toward its final weeks.
The Swiss Indoors in Basel is an ATP 500 event played on a slowish Greenset indoor hard surface, while the Valencia Open has been downgraded to an ATP 250 this year and they also use a Greenset hard court.
We signed off from week 42 with two winners on Sunday, with Tomas Berdych and Jack Sock playing the tie break we required in the Stockholm final, while David Ferrer just about landed the ‘sure thing’ by winning Vienna.
Marin Cilic won a set too soon in retaining the Kremlin Cup and he did it by the exact same scoreline and same opponent as in Moscow 12 months ago.
It’s quite a low-key start to the week on Monday, with only six main draw matches across our two tournaments today, with four in Basel and a couple in Valencia.
Round one upsets were quite plentiful in Valencia last year, with six underdogs winning from 16 matches, including Pablo Andujar’s 6.24 win over Berdych, and Alexandr Dolgopolov’s 6-0, 6-3 thrashing of Gilles Simon at 3.47.
In Basel there were also six underdog winners in round one, with the pick of them being a win at 3.74 for Borna Coric over Ernests Gulbis.
Dominic Thiem vs Robin Haase
This 17:45 UK time clash in Basel looks like it could be a tricky one for the Austrian, who bombed out of his home event in Vienna last week in round one to a Jerzy Janowicz who’d just had stem cell treatment on his knee.
Thiem slumped to defeat against the Pole from a set up and now he faces the player who beat him in Vienna in 2014 in Haase.
Indeed, Haase beat Thiem on clay this summer too in Davis Cup in straight sets a few days before Thiem travelled to Umag and won there, and then went to Gstaad the next week and won there as well.
So, it’s 2-0 to Haase in the career series and clearly this particular match-up won’t be one that Thiem will be relishing in round one here in Basel.
Haase is nothing if not inconsistent and he played pretty well in Moscow last week, beating Pablo Cuevas, but came up well short against Philipp Kohslchreiber, and he’s qualified here in Basel by beating Benjamin Becker.
There were a lot of breaks of serve in the Becker match – eight in all – which perhaps shows that we’re on a slow surface again this week and that will suit Haase, who likes to set himself for his shots and isn’t the most athletic.
My concern with Thiem is that he may well tail off from here, as he did last year when he won only two matches in five tournaments after the US Open, and this could be a good time for Haase to play him.
The 1.55 about Haase winning a set looks decent value in the circumstances and I’ll start off the week in Basel with this one, rather than get involved with Viktor Troicki/Adrian Mannarino, which is clouded by ongoing injury problems with the Frenchman.
Vasek Pospisil vs Santiago Giraldo
This 15:00 UK time clash in Valencia looks the one to focus on for ‘sure thing’ backers, with Pospisil taking a 3-0 career series lead into this match with the out of form Giraldo.
There was very little to get excited about in Giraldo’s straight sets loss to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Vienna and GGL was thrashed in his next match by David Ferrer, so the form lines aren’t great for the Colombian.
Giraldo has won only one completed match at main level since July and he’s only won two matches in a row on the tour since May, so he’s in a slump that shows little sign of abating.
The one match he did win was against world number 299 Rogerio Dutra Silva on clay and he split with his coach a few weeks ago too, so he could be forgiven for downing tools and starting again in 2016.
It may not be an easy win for Pospisil and three sets is possible, but the Canadian should have rather too much firepower for Giraldo, and injuries are more of a concern for me with Pospisil than anything else here.
Assuming he’s fit for action it looks a nice opener for the Canadian and he is preferred at the prices to Donald Young, who should beat the very mediocre Swiss wild card Henri Laaksonen.
Rafael Nadal vs Lukas Rosol
Nadal will probably be a short-priced winner as well today, but Rosol can, of course, be dangerous as Rafa knows all too well and the 3.60 about the hit and miss Czech taking set one seems the best ‘long shot’ for Monday.
Rosol played pretty well last week and was beating an ultra-relaxed Gael Monfils in Vienna before the peculiar antics of Lamonf distracted him and the Frenchman came through in three sets.
Nadal hasn’t played indoors (other than a meaningless Davis Cup rubber against a no-hoper) since losing to Borna Coric here a year ago and although he’s shown signs of improvement of late he’s still vulnerable to player that can hit the ball hard.
Far too often these days Nadal leaves the ball halfway up the court and it’s begging to be walloped; Rosol won’t stand on ceremony and he knows his game can breach the defences of the Spaniard.
Not only did Rosol beat Nadal famously at Wimbledon 2012, but he should have taken a two set lead over him at the same venue in 2014 and made Nadal go to a decider in their Doha clash in-between, so this is dangerous for the former world number one.
Rafa has dropped the opening set 15 times this season and he’s often looked so creaky and slow to begin matches that it’s worth chancing that Rosol is on his game.
Sure thing: Back Pospisil to beat Giraldo at 1.24
Value bet: Back Haase +1.5 sets at 1.55
Long shot: Back Rosol to win set one at 3.60