Tuesday in week 16 of the 2015 ATP World Tour is a busy one, with 19 matches scheduled for today on the clay in Barcelona and Bucharest.
And after a fine start to Monday when my ‘sure thing’ won for the loss of just one game and my second wager began well by taking the opening set things were looking rosy.
Unfortunately, Viktor Troicki’s good start faded badly amidst an on going row with the umpire in Bucharest and he fell away tamely, while Marinko Matosevic beat himself against Marcel Granollers, with some unfathomable shot choices.
Troicki later withdrew from the doubles citing a lower back injury, so one presumes that was the cause of his bad mood and tame loss on Monday.
We start at 10:00 UK time on Tuesday at both venues and there are plenty of options for ‘sure thing’ punters today.
Breaking them down it seems to me that several of the sub-1.35 shots are a bit shaky, with Bellucci more than capable of beating Roberto Bautista-Agut, as he did on clay in Davis Cup last season.
Dominic Thiem also looks very short at 1.26 against Victor Estrella Burgos, but the latter has been struggling with bursitis in the shoulder and may not be fit enough today.
Alexandr Dolgopolov has never won a match in three straight sets defeats in Barcelona in his career, while I’ll talk about Tommy Robredo more later.
So, I prefer a short-priced double today that pays 1.29 and relies on Pablo Cuevas and Juan Monaco winning against Roberto Carballes Baena and Alejandro Gonzalez respectively.
Cuevas has been very solid over the last year or so and has won 25 of his last 26 matches against opponents ranked 101 or lower since May of last year.
One of those 25 wins was against Carballes Baena, who rose to prominence briefly in Casablanca last year before fading away, and the Uruguayan should be winning this in two really.
Monaco wasn’t great against Stan Wawrinka last week in Monte-Carlo, but Stan had a rare good day and Pico can get back to winning ways against Gonzalez, who hasn’t won a completed match since the Australian Open at tour level against a top-100 opponent.
Of the other sub-1.2 shots today, Kei Nishikori is playing his first match of the year on clay and could be opposed for a set by the dangerous Teimuraz Gabashvili.
Nico Almagro looks too short in his current form and fitness against Paulo Lorenzi, while Fernando Verdasco could be tested for a while by the talented Andrey Rublev.
Tommy Robredo vs Mikhail Kukushkin
I really don’t like this price about Robredo, who has enjoyed better results away from the clay in recent times and is only 10-10 in his last 20 matches on the dirt against top-100 opponents.
On that stat alone the 1.19 on Robredo looks very short and against an opponent who does hit very flat and loves to go down the lines like Kukushkin this could be a tougher day for Tommy than the odds suggest.
Indeed, Kukushkin won the only prior career meeting between the pair on a quick hard court at the Shanghai Masters at the end of last season and the inconsistent Kazakh is not without a shot in this 14:00 UK time start in Barcelona.
Robredo should have been beaten first up in Monte-Carlo last week by Andreas Seppi, who yet again let the Spaniard off the hook from 4-2 up the final set and after an easy win over Granollers Robredo was beaten by a Milos Raonic who was playing on one leg.
Prior to that Tommy was beaten twice this season on clay by a Nico Almagro very much on the comeback trail from injury and also by Andreas Haider-Maurer, so he’s a lot to prove on clay these days for me.
The Spaniard turns 33 in a couple of weeks’ time and I’m not convinced that his defence is as good as it was and the easy, deceptive power of Kuku on both wings should test Robredo thoroughly – if, and it’s a big if – Kukushkin is fit.
A 6-1, 6-0 win over Joao Souza yesterday would suggest that Kuku is fit and the 4.50 on him today is worth chancing.
Albert Montanes vs Ricardas Berankis
Montanes is not the force of old, but as a local Barcelona resident and in receipt of a wild card he’s likely to be far more motivated to do well than Berankis, whose clay swings tend to be short and not very successful.
The 34-year-old veteran loves this tournament and he’s never lost in the first round in Barcelona to a player ranked lower than 64 in the world.
He did beat Berankis here in 2013 and his record from 2013 to the present day on clay as a 1.5 to 1.6 favourite is decent, with six wins from eight matches.
Berankis has a meagre 31 percent win record on clay at tour level and he usually only plays a couple of tournaments each season on the red dirt.
The Lithuanian also has a 31 percent win record against the top-125 on clay and it’s fairly evident from his stats that he sees the clay swing as a minor irritant ahead of getting back to hard courts.
Montanes tends to win his matches as a 1.5 to 1.6 favourite comfortably, with all six of the aforementioned victories on clay coming in straight sets, so the -1.5 games appeals here at 1.70, as does the 2-0 to the Spaniard at 2.32.
Sure thing: Back Cuevas and Monaco in a double at 1.29
Value bet: Back Montanes -1.5 games to beat Berankis at 1.70
Long shot: Back Kukushkin to beat Robredo at 4.50