The ATP World Tour heads back to Europe in week 42, with the Asian swing over, and we have three ATP 250 events to focus on this week.
Indoor tennis takes place in Stockholm, Vienna and Moscow this week and it’s a fairly gentle start to the week, with only eight first round matches on the card today across all three venues.
In Sweden the If Stockholm Open is played on a medium paced Play It indoor hard court at the Kungliga Tennishallen and in the first round here last year there was just one underdog winner from a dozen matches.
Over in Austria the Erste Bank Open is played on an Opticourt indoor hard surface that I seem to recall being on the slow side last year and results in Vienna 12 months ago saw five underdogs win from a dozen round one matches.
And perhaps the slowest conditions of all can be found at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, where their RuKort indoor surface plays very slow and there were also five from 12 underdog winners in the opening round here a year ago.
Malek Jaziri vs Filip Krajinovic
This 11:30 approx UK time start looks the toughest match to call of the day in terms of betting odds, but the Serb has come in for some steady support since the prices came out and looks worth backing in any case.
The slow conditions in Moscow should suit the injury prone Krajinovic, who likes the clay and is finally starting to fulfil a little of the potential that had many people talking about him a few years ago.
Injuries have hampered his progress, but now at 22-years-old he’s just outside the top-100 and he showed the Hamburg crowds what he can do on the clay there in the summer when beating Thomaz Bellucci, Jan-Lennard Struff and Fabio Fognini.
Typically, he retired in his next match there and he still has some work to do on the physical side of his game, but market support today would indicate he’s okay in that regard today.
Jaziri is likely to be a little too impatient on these slow courts where his aggressive game may not be able to flow as well as it can on quicker surfaces such as Shanghai last week.
The Tunisian made the last-16 in that Masters 1000 event, thanks to a very nice draw, but he’ll find it tougher today to hit winners, so I’m happy to side with the more measured game of the Serb.
Elsewhere, I’m tempted to take the big price on local wildcard Patrik Rosenholm in Stockholm against 1.13 shot Bernard Tomic, who should never be that price against anyone due to his propensity to tank.
The Swede beat Gael Monfils here a few years ago and although he could get walloped today if Bernie is on it, there’s always a chance that he won’t be.
Jarkko Nieminen is playing what’s effectively his home tournament in Stockholm, but he’s too short against Albert Ramos today, as is Teimuraz Gabashvili against the out of form, but still dangerous leftie Alejandro Falla.
Gerald Melzer caused a kafuffle in Vienna with his award of a wild card and he could take down Carlos Berlocq, whose record indoors is poor, but I’ve seen little from the lesser Melzer that would inspire me to back him – even against Berlocq indoors.
Back Krajinovic to beat Jaziri at 1.85