It’s a typically busy Tuesday on the ATP World Tour, with a slew of matches scheduled for day two of week eight across our three events in Dubai, Sao Paulo and Acapulco.
We got the week off to a good start on Monday when our first wager was a winner as Feli Lopez beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and covered the -1.5 game handicap into the bargain in Dubai.
Due to the daft scheduling this week my other two wagers are yet to even start at the time of writing and as there are so many matches on Tuesday I’ll limit myself to just Dubai and Sao Paulo’s 19 matches today.
Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Simone Bolelli
This 10:00 UK time (14:00 local) start in Dubai sees two players whose fortunes have contrasted wildly this season face each other, with the in-form Spaniard facing the out of form Italian.
Bolelli’s only win so far in 2016 came by way of a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 grind against Brian Baker, who hadn’t played at this level for over four years, at the Australian Open and the Italian has lost eight of his last nine at main level.
RBA on the other hand has a 14-3 record in 2016, with titles in Auckland and Sofia, and he’ll be happy to have had a decent draw in Dubai for a change after facing Novak Djokovic twice early on in the last three years here.
His draw this year looks kinder and he’s due some fortune in Dubai after also losing in a final set tie break (to Gasquet) in 2015 and this looks a good match-up for RBA if he’s fit.
Bolelli’s gung-ho attacking game will need to be almost perfectly executed to regularly get the better of the Spaniard in the rallies and it’s been anything but in a run of form that’s seen him slip down to 68 in the world rankings.
Here in Dubai the Italian has a poor 2-5 record in all, with a defeat to then 342 Sergei Bubka on his CV (who, coincidentally RBA beat in the doubles on Monday with Joao Sousa), and although he did defeat RBA on clay back in 2012 we’ll surely see the Spaniard levelling the head-to-head today.
Thomas Fabbiano vs Leonardo Mayer
The Argentine looks a bit of a shaky favourite in this one to me against an opponent who has played the best tennis of his life this season and sits at a career high in the rankings.
Fabbiano has qualified here in Dubai with wins over Cem Ilkel and Ivan Dodig and he’s beaten Gilles Muller in 2016, so he shouldn’t be overawed at all by facing world number 38 Mayer.
The Argentine was really poor in a heavy loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on clay last time out and has never played a match in Dubai before, so he won’t be as used to the windy and tricky conditions at this tournament as the Italian.
Mayer has only beaten one top-50 player since last summer’s grass court season and that was an out of touch Martin Klizan in a spell of poor form that’s seen his ranking almost double from a high of 21 last June.
Coming straight from clay into a pacy hard court in strong wind with his high ball toss against a player who has two matches under his belt and will be confident seems a recipe for problems for Mayer.
Fabbiano took a set from Mayer on outdoor hard the only other time they met and I’m also far from convinced about Mayer on quick surfaces, as his record in Cincinnati and Shanghai shows
This one will be played at 14:00 local time in the quickest time of day and the Argentine seems plenty short enough, as does Teimuraz Gabashvili at about the same price.
The flaky Russian has been a 1.30 or shorter favourite only seven times in his main level career (all in first rounds) and won only four of them, which wouldn’t fill me with confidence ahead of a clash with ‘Brit beater’ Franco Skugor of Croatia.
Skugor has taken down James Ward and Kyle Edmund in straight sets in qualies here in Dubai and again he’ll be more attuned to conditions than the favourite, who has only ever won one match in Dubai.
Ironically Gabashvili’s last visit to Dubai ended in a loss to James Ward and his only victory here came against the then world number 188 Laurent Recouderc back in 2009.
With the ball flying about in the afternoon sunshine I’d be worried about Gaba’s control and Skugor might be underrated here, as it’s his first match at tour level in the main draw since 2011.
Again, there’s possibilities for the underdog here, and 3.55 about Skugor and Fabbiano to take sets looks a reasonable long shot for Tuesday.
I also like the 2.60 about young Thiago Monteiro taking a set against Nico Almagro in what should be an entertaining clash in Sao Paulo with the home crowd behind the 21-year-old.
Monteiro beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and should have had a set off champion Pablo Cuevas in Rio last week, so he’s more than capable of causing Almagro some early problems.
Albert Ramos vs Pablo Carreno Busta
I’ve not been impressed by Carreno Busta against left-handers in his tour level career so far and further inspection of his record versus lefties seems to reveal a bit of an issue for Rafa Nadal’s tip as the “future of Spanish tennis.”
PCB has lost 10 of his last 11 matches against lefties, with the one win coming on clay against Gilles Muller at a match I was present at last season in Estoril, and overall at main level he’s 3-13.
Fair enough, three of the losses have come against Nadal, but Donald Young, Mischa Zverev, Federico Delbonis, Thomaz Bellucci and Martin Klizan are also on the list of southpaws to have beaten Carreno Busta.
He faces world number 47 Ramos on Tuesday, and of course Ramos is a leftie, but also a concern for PCB backers will be his overall record against the top-50, which currently reads 9-42.
Indeed, PCB has won one of his last 14 and three of his last 24, and this is a player available to back as short as around even money against a top-50 left-hander.
He’s also yet to win a match in Sao Paulo after losing to the then world number 110 Joao Souza last year, while Ramos is a former semi finalist here, so in this first career meeting seems to me to be a likely win for Ramos and decent value at 1.75.
Sure thing: Back Bautista Agut to beat Bolelli at 1.21
Value bet: Back Ramos to beat Carreno Busta at 1.75
Long shot: Back Fabbiano +1.5 sets and Skugor +1.5 sets at 3.55