Day three of week 17 on the ATP World Tour sees Roger Federer make his tournament debut in Istanbul on Wednesday, with 13 matches scheduled for today across our three tournaments.
Tuesday didn’t go as well for either myself or the organisers of the Estoril Open when both Joao Sousa and Gastao Elias were beaten on home soil and the former’s loss to compatriot Rui Machado didn’t go down well in these parts.
Sousa was again disappointing on home soil, with the defeat by Machado continuing his record of having made only one quarter final in Portugal at tour level and the Sousa masks, liberally handed out here yesterday, didn’t do the trick for the home hope.
Meanwhile, Elias folded all too easily in the deciding set of his clash with Kenny De Schepper after a good comeback in set two and a failure to take break points early in set three cost Elias dear in that one in a disappointing loss to an opponent far from at home on the clay.
There was more success for my ‘sure thing’ wagers though when Albert Montañes battled past Martin Fischer on Court 3 in what was a really competitive and keenly contested clay court tussle that was good to watch.
In Istanbul today, Federer brings a 14-0 record over opponent Jarkko Nieminen to the court and will surely make that 15 over the fading Finn, while the value of the day in Turkey could well lie with young starlet Andrey Rublev, who is a decent outsider against Santi Giraldo.
Over in Munich, I’m hoping that my outright bet this week of Philipp Kohlschreiber can overcome the challenge of the young German prospect Alexander Zverev, while Roberto Bautista-Agut should get past the returning Radek Stepanek.
Nicolas Almagro vs Leonardo Mayer
I’ve had an investment in Mayer this week in Estoril and while he has every chance of upsetting favourite Almagro here I think that this match has overs written all over it.
Mayer has been putting in the hours on the practice courts here this week, while Almagro hasn’t shown much in the way of intensity, with some laid back swiping sessions and aside from that the Spaniard doesn’t look the player he was since his injury.
He may well be struggling for full fitness or he may need more matches, but whichever, Mayer can at least test him in this 12:30 start today.
Mayer has been unsurprisingly quiet since that epic Davis Cup clash with Joao Souza in March and also will need matches and I expect this one to be a real up and down affair, with both likely to have periods of dominance with their heavy ground strokes.
Both can misfire badly at times and Almagro looks short to me at 1.45 here and the handicap options on Mayer or the over 22.5 games look the ones in this third meeting between the pair.
The two prior clashes were a long time ago and not relevant to today – perhaps more relevant is Almagro’s 4-16 record in his last 20 matches against top-30 ranked opposition.
In his last six matches on clay as a 1.40 to 1.50 favourite Almagro has won only one in under 22.5 games, while Mayer has won two of his three matches on clay as a 2.60 to 2.80 underdog and three of his last five on all surfaces.
My long shot today consists of a double on two slight outsiders, with Simone Bolelli and Robin Haase both looking like they have decent chances at a combined price of 4.83.
Bolelli faces David Goffin, who he defeated in much quicker conditions on hard in Sydney earlier this season, and the Belgian has never won a match so far in Germany in three attempts.
The heavy conditions may make this a slog for Goffin, while Bolelli, who made the final here way back in 2008, has the extra power and looks a lively underdog.
Haase is always a risky bet, but as an underdog against Lopez he looks worth chancing, with two wins from two matches on clay against Lopez to give him confidence in this 14:50 start in Estoril.
Lopez has struggled so far this clay swing, with a heavy loss to Sam Querrey on HarTru American clay in Houston followed by a match-point-saving win over Marsel Ilhan in Barcelona and a straight sets defeat to Pablo Andujar at the same venue.
The Spaniard has lost two of his last three on clay as a 1.60 to 1.70 favourite (one to Haase in Gstaad) and all five of his last five matches at that price have gone to three sets.
Richard Gasquet vs Kenny De Schepper
De Schepper scuppered my wager yesterday, but surely he won’t be afforded the same generosity by Gasquet, whose back problems appear to be okay for the moment.
The Gasman seemed fine on serve and given his propensity to exaggerate his ailments I would think he’ll be in good shape to beat the big-serving leftie in this 17:00 start in Estoril.
Gasquet has won 14 of his 15 matches on clay as a favourite priced between 1.1 and 1.2, with a 2007 loss to Jurgen Melzer in Hamburg the only blot on his copybook in that regard.
Against big servers on clay the last time he lost to one ranked outside the top-30 was against Juan Martin Del Potro back in 2008 and I can’t really see De Schepper having the mobility or consistency to keep up the Gasman here.
Of his last 25 completed matches against players ranked outside the top-100 Gasquet has lost only one and that was to Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon 10-8 in the fifth set last summer.
And of his last 10 on clay against players ranked 101 or lower the Frenchman has won nine in straight sets, with the exception being one set dropped against Tommy Haas.
Sure thing: Back Gasquet to beat De Schepper 2-0 at 1.43
Value bet: Back over 22.5 total games in Almagro/Mayer at 1.93
Long shot: Back Bolelli and Haase in a double at 4.83