The round one action continues in Rotterdam, Memphis and Buenos Aires in week seven of the 2017 ATP World Tour on Tuesday, with 23 matches scheduled for today.
We got off to a decent start for the week on Monday, with headline pick Damir Dzumhur coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Kevin Anderson as a 3.0 chance.
But only the second ever set at main level won by Reilly Opelka in fewer than 10 games did for the second wager of the day in Memphis when Opelka won the opener against Jared Donaldson 6-1.
That was only the fifth set at any level of play that Opelka had won by six games to one, so a rarity indeed there.
Rotterdam’s card on Tuesday looks very unappealing, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Muller appearing to have fairly straightforward tasks against wild cards and surely only the very brave would wager on a match pitting Fernando Verdasco against Martin Klizan.
Lucas Pouille hasn’t played since an injury-affected showing at the Australian Open, while opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew from Sofia last week citing a sore back.
Marin Cilic has been poor so far this season and the only one I considered in Rotterdam was to side with Benoit Paire against him in some way, but, well, it is Benoit, and other opportunities appeal more today.
Paulo Lorenzi vs Gerald Melzer
It could well be worth taking on both of the Quito finalists today in what is a pretty quick turnaround from Sunday’s final in Ecuador at very high altitude to damp and slow Buenos Aires.
Around 48 hours after that rollercoaster final against Victor Estrella Burgos Lorenzi is back on court to face an opponent who will surely be miuch fresher than him and one that he has struggled against in their previous clashes.
Lorenzi was a narrow 7-6, 7-6 winner in the Kitzbuhel semi final (again, at altitude) last summer over Melzer, but it was the Austrian that won two of their three before that.
Both came at the Bucaramanga Challenger (also at altitude) in 2015 and 2016 and I couldn’t be backing Lorenzi as 1.65 favourite in this 22:00 UK time (18:00 local) clash in today’s circumstances.
Lorenzi will surely be both fatigued (he played two singles in Davis Cup the week before) and disappointed after failing to convert match point for the title in Quito and 48 hours doesn’t seem long enough to travel back the 2,700 miles from Ecuador to Argentina and get attuned to the very different conditions.
On the numbers there isn’t much in it over the last year on clay in all matches, with Lorenzi holding serve 75.4% of the time and breaking 31% of the time for a good total of 106.4.
Melzer holds serve 80.7% of the time and breaks 28.8% of the time for a slightly better mark of 109.5, but he played more of his tennis at Challenger level over the last 12 months.
Head-to-head there’s little in it, with Lorenzi holding 81% of the time against Melzer, who holds 79.1% of the time against the Italian. The high holds are probably due to four of their five matches being played at altitude and today's grind should favour the fitter man.
Victor Estrella Burgos vs Thiago Monteiro
I’m going to put last week’s truly dire showing from Monteiro down to not handling the altitude in Quito and here at sea level his extra power should give him the edge over a tired Estrella.
Surely there will have been a few celebrations in the Estrella camp after his third straight title in Quito and he’ll have the same issues as Lorenzi in getting here and adjusting to the much slower conditions.
Hopefully Monteiro has been practicing for a while in Buenos Aires after his early exit last week and he’ll certainly have more in his legs than the 36-year-old Dominican.
Away from his beloved Quito Estrella has only ever played three matches against top-100 ranked lefties on clay at main level and lost all three (Lopez, Falla and Klizan the opposition).
And the last time that he won Quito and played the very next week Estrella was beaten in round two (as number one seed) in the Santo Domingo Challenger by Jozef Kovalik 6-3, 6-2.
There’s a lot going in Monteiro’s favour here and the -1.5 games on the Brazilian appeals at 1.93.
Elsewhere, Horacio Zeballos has a terrible record in Buenos Aires and has broken serve only 9% of the time in his last 10 matches on clay at main level, so Joao Sousa could be good on the handicap here.
I also toyed with the idea of backing Kovalik as underdog against Carlos Berlocq, whose renaissance may well only apply to Davis Cup, and Kovalik may be a lively underdog in that one.
1 point win Melzer to beat Lorenzi at 2.33
1 point win Monteiro -1.5 games to beat Estrella at 1.93