The ATP Tour continues its European clay court swing in week 17 with tournaments in Barcelona and Bucharest in the build-up to the French Open.
Yesterday’s bet on Stanislas Wawrinka to defeat Roger Federer in the final of Monte-Carlo found the mark, as Stan landed his maiden Masters 1000 crown with a comeback win over his former idol.
The likes of Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer make their way to the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona for the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell – an ATP 500 event played on quickish red clay.
Nadal has an outstanding 40-1 record here, with the one defeat coming in his first ever match here back in 2003 and he has won the title eight times in a row.
Over in Romania the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy is an ATP 250 event is another clay event that, like Barcelona, is played on outdoor clay where the weather plays a big part in the speed of the surface and I seem to recall it being on the slow side last year.
The weather in Barcelona is set to be cloudy with a bit of rain around this week and warmer with more sun to start the week in Romania, but we’ll have to see what effect that has on conditions.
There are a dozen first round matches on the card in Barcelona on Monday, with play starting at around 10.00 UK time, with a decent opportunity for Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver 1.86 vs Roberto Carballes Baena 1.90 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 10.05
This first match of the day on Pista Central is a clash of two Spanish wildcards who are in very different spells of form and with opposing styles of play.
Carballes Baena made the semi-finals of Casablanca as a qualifier just over a week ago, with wins over David Goffin, Joao Sousa and Andrey Kuznetsov, and on the back of that he’s been priced up a little too short for my liking in this encounter.
RCB’s run in Morocco was his first ever success at tour level and prior to that he’d been playing Futures with mixed results and one good week does not a player make.
It could well be that Carballes Baena does go on and make Casablanca the launchpad of a good career at tour level, but I’m happy to take him on today with DGT.
Gimeno-Traver has struggled to string results together this season, but this time last year he lost in the first round in four straight events before coming back to beat Feli Lopez, Richard Gasquet and Juan Monaco on the dirt.
We know that Daniel has the pedigree and this match will be all about him, as his attacking style tries to break down the stubborn, defensive, grinding game of Carballes Baena.
I’m happy to take a chance on DGT’s proven quality at this level over what is at the moment a Futures player who’s had one good week and 1.86 seems reasonable on that basis.
Inigo Cervantes-Huegun 2.55 vs Oleksandr Nedovyesov 1.50
Surely the almost year-long lay-off that Cervantes has had away from the main tour will count against the Spaniard in this 12.00 UK time clash with Nedovesov.
Cervantes had hip surgery in July of last year and didn’t play a match from June 2013 until March of this year when he took his first steps on the comeback trail in Futures in Spain then at the same level in Croatia.
He did win a Croatia F7 a couple of weeks ago, but the highest ranked player he faced was 255 in the world, so it was purely an exercise in match practise and getting used to being on court again.
His last match win on the main tour was over Flavio Cipolla on grass at Wimbledon in 2012 and he’s only ever played half a dozen matches at this level, with a 2-4 record.
Nedovesov has hardly had an inspiring campaign, but he did play well in Casablanca beating Robin Haase and losing in a final set breaker to Pablo Carreno Busta and 1.50 looks generous under the circumstances.
Back Gimeno-Traver to beat Carballes Baena at 1.86
Back Nedovyesov to beat Cervantes at 1.50