The ATP World Tour is back on clay and hard courts after the 2015 grass swing came to a close in Newport, USA on Sunday.
We’re on the red dirt in Europe in Sweden and Croatia, while the hard court season starts at altitude in Bogota, Colombia.
All three of this week’s tournaments are ATP 250s and we play at the Swedish Open in Bastad, Croatia Open in Umag and the Claro Open in Bogota.
Conditions are really windy next to the beach in Bastad and on the coast in Umag and the clay at the latter venue usually plays slow and the courts often need work filling in the holes.
Bogota is at 2,625m of altitude and the tournament uses depressurised balls on its slow Greenset outdoor hard surface to try and stop them flying around all over the place in the thin air.
Ivo Karlovic has done well here in the two previous tournaments played in Bogota after the event took over the licence of the old Los Angeles tournament.
It’s a slow start to week 28 on Monday, with only six matches across the three tournaments today, and we start at around 13:00 UK time in Bastad.
Markus Eriksson vs Benoit Paire
Anyone backing the erratic and controversial Frenchman at a price of 1.13 today is taking a big chance on a player who was last seen blatantly tanking last week at the San Benedetto Challenger.
Leading Pippo Volandri by a 6-1, 2-0, the moody Paire decided he didn’t really feel like it and lost the next eight games before retiring citing sickness.
On pure ability he should have few problems against the Swedish wild card Eriksson, who plies his weekly trade at Futures level usually, but since when has it been about tennis with Paire?
If he fancies it today he should beat the 538 ranked Eriksson pretty easily, but I can’t ever envisage a time when I would think that backing Paire to beat anyone at 1.13 was a good idea.
Ranked at a high of number 347 Eriksson has won only two matches at main level – both in Davis Cup – and he was beaten easily by Paolo Lorenzi here a year ago as a wild card.
Based on his ‘efforts’ last week the 6.0 on Eriksson to beat Paire looks a decent long shot, with a retirement from the Frenchman a distinct possibility if he’s not in the mood.
Adrian Menendez-Maceiras vs Alejandro Gonzalez
I’m happy to take a price like 1.85 about the home player here in conditions that do give those that are used to it a distinct advantage.
Gonzalez has been in no sort of form this season really, with a very patchy set of results in 2015, but he made the last eight here a year ago and I’d expect him to be motivated for this tournament.
Menendez-Maceiras was last seen being easily beaten on grass in Newport last week by another Colombian, Alejandro Falla, and he can’t have had long to acclimatise to the altitude in Bogota.
The lack of form of Gonzalez generally and on hard courts overall has made his price quite attractive here and the layers will also have noted a prior loss to Menendez-Maceiras in Australian Open qualies three years ago.
I don’t think much of this is relevant today and more of interest is the lack of experience in these conditions of Menendez-Maceiras and that could well be the deciding factor today.
Aljaz Bedene vs Mate Delic
‘Sure thing’ backers today have no huge choice, with so few matches on today, but this one looks by far the most likely to reward short-priced punters on Monday.
The contrasting form of Bedene and Delic could scarcely be starker, with Bedene coming off a title win in the Todi Challenger two weeks ago, and Delic having lost 10 of his last 13 matches and the last five in a row.
Delic has no great memories of this home tournament, with no wins in three visits to Umag, and he’s 3-12 in his career against top-100 opposition.
Having peaked at a career high in the rankings of 150 back in January this year Delic has slipped to 313 and he’s lacking in matches, having not played on the tour for a month.
This should certainly be a win for Bedene, who was born only an hour-and-a-half away from Umag in Ljubljana, Slovenia and this will no doubt feel like a home tournament for him too.
Sure thing: Back Bedene to beat Delic at 1.15
Value bet: Back Gonzalez to beat Menendez-Maceiras at 1.85
Long shot: Back Eriksson to beat Paire at 6.0