Grass court tennis is over as far as the ATP World Tour is concerned until next season and the tour moves on to clay and hard in week 29.
Sunday’s prediction in the Newport final was pretty much perfect, with my assertion that Lleyton Hewitt has “a tendency to be very choky serving out sets and matches these days, so he could be worth siding against in-play in such situations,” proving spot on.
Hewitt failed to serve out the straight sets win in set two of what looked like it would be an eery repeat of the 2013 final, but happily for my bet the Aussie eventually regrouped to lift the title in a final set breaker.
This week’s two events are on the clay in Hamburg and hard courts in Bogota and in Germany and they start with 10 first round matches at the German Open Tennis Championships.
This red dirt event is an ATP 500 and one of the courts at the Rothenbaum is equipped with a retractable roof, which may well be useful at the start of the week with a bit of rain forecast for the next day or so.
Generally regarded as one of slower clay events of the season the weather should ensure that bit at least starts that way again, with better weather forecast for later in the week.
In the 16 first round matches in Hamburg last year there were 11 winning favourites and a biggest priced win of around 3.00 when Blaz Kavcic defeated Victor Hanescu.
We start early at 09:30 UK time with our old friend Benoit Paire taking on Andrey Golubev, which looks one to ignore, as ever with the unstable Frenchman involved.
Mate Delic vs Pablo Andujar
This seems a great opportunity for the Spaniard to get back to winning ways after one of his now customary slumps in form.
Andujar has won just one match since narrowly failing to beat Rafa Nadal on the clay of Rio back in February when Pablo was number 40 in the world.
He’s slipped down to number 75 now and after his usual feeble showing on the grass it’s time for him to start winning again on the clay, with today being a nice opportunity.
Delic has played just five matches against top-100 opponents and the two he has won were against the woeful Pippo Volandri and over Dustin Brown on clay and his 6-4, 6-2 loss against Santi Giraldo last week seems about his level at the moment.
There may be plenty of improvement to come from Delic, but if Andujar, who’s been playing Bundesliga since Wimbledon, can’t win this he’s got problems.
Tobias Kamke vs Jarkko Nieminen
This one seems to me to be the best opportunity to take on a favourite today, with Kamke sure to be motivated and hungry to win this one.
The negative head-to-head of 0-4 means that the German is a good price today at around 2.40 in his city of residence.
Kamke lives in Hamburg and after being given a wild card by the tournament directors he’s been practicing for days for this and he says: “Playing at the Rothenbaum is something very special for me… I want to come here and show the best tennis that I can play.”
He certainly can play to a high level on his day and he’s shown that on numerous occasions, including wins over Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych and he was playing well in the lead-up to Wimbledon too.
Kamke should have beaten Feli Lopez at Eastbourne, but choked that one away a bit and since then he’s lost a couple of winnable matches.
He’ll have a feel for the courts after playing doubles here at the Rothenbaum yesterday as well as all that practice and the career losses to Nieminen have mainly come in conditions that favour Jarkko.
The three at tour level have all been played at what Jarkko considers his home tournament at Stockholm indoors and this on slow clay in Kamke’s backyard may see a different result.
Jarkko has been below par all season in any case, with just one quarter final all year – and that was back in February.
The 2.40 looks pretty decent about Kamke today and the over 21.5 games also looks good here.
Back Andujar to beat Delic at 1.58
Back Kamke to beat Nieminen at 2.40