The first round action in Nice and Dusseldorf continues on Tuesday on the clay in week 21 of the ATP World Tour.
Jurgen Melzer gave us a very comfortable winner to begin the week with on Monday when he eased past the overhyped Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-1 in the Dusseldorf Open.
The five matches on the card in Dusseldorf don’t look exactly appealing today from a betting perspective and I’m going to focus my attention on Nice instead, where the options looks far more plentiful.
Kenny de Schepper vs Jack Sock
This one is hardly a battle of the clay courters, with both of these big serving types much more at home on hard courts, but Sock has the edge here for me.
It’s good to see the American actually play through qualifying to reach the main draw of a tournament for once rather than getting yet another wild card and he’s qualified in decent style in Nice this week.
Sock didn’t drop a set in his three qualifying matches here and a couple of bagels that he delivered on the way won’t have harmed his confidence either.
De Schepper did pretty well in the Bordeaux Challenger last week in reaching the semi finals, but Sock’s three matches at this venue this week should give him enough of an advantage.
While I think that the American will shade this, his price of 1.50 is rather short and I prefer the overs in this clash, with two very decent servers in action.
De Schepper won’t give up easily on home soil and the over 23.5 games looks decent here at 2.0, with Sock looking the likely winner, but a little too short in the betting. The 2-1 to Sock appeals more at 3.80.
Filippo Volandri vs Robin Haase
I think we saw the final nail in the coffin of Volandri’s tour career in Rome last week in a limp effort against Gilles Simon.
And it wasn’t the Simon that somehow appeared from nowhere to take it to Rafa Nadal either, it was the usual negative, pushing Gillou that we’ve all come to know and love (for backing the overs).
Pippo was a last minute entry into Nice and got into the main draw only because Benoit Paire pulled out and the Italian’s preparation as a result won’t have been great.
Volandri has always had the weakest serve on tour, but he was able to defend it far better in the past than he’s able to now and Haase should be able to punch through it with some ease.
The pair will be meeting across the net for the first time since back in 2010 in the final of the San Marino Challenger and the Dutchman won that one, but far more relevant is the decline of Volandri.
He’s won one match of 13 on the tour this year and that was against world number 418 Christian Garin and he just isn’t up to tour level any more.
Haase needs to improve after first round losses in Madrid and Rome and this looks the place to start. The minus 3.5 games looks good here at 1.62.
Elsewhere, It’s a sad state of affairs for Bernie Tomic that he’s a 4.50 shot to beat Martin Klizan, but losses to Benjamin Becker in Madrid and Victor Estrella in straight sets in Rome tell a tale about his commitment on clay.
He may well decide that he fancies it this week and I wouldn’t be too keen on the 1.19 on Klizan, who’s hardly the most reliable of characters. If Bernie fancies it he could win this, but will he?
Julien Benneteau won a title last week, but before we rush to get the bunting out it was just a Challenger and his hunt for that elusive ATP Tour title continues.
There’s no reason why it couldn’t come here in Nice, but he has a tough first round against Carlos Berlocq and I would have to give the edge to Charly, but this one could well go past the overs.
Back over 23.5 games in Sock/De Schepper at 2.00
Back Haase –3.5 games to beat Volandri at 1.62