The early season clay court tennis continues in Monte-Carlo on Wednesday, with another 14 matches on the card at the opening clay Masters 1000 of 2015.
And after Philipp Kohlschreiber got us off to a good start on Monday the rest of the day didn’t go so well, as my long shot Borna Coric just fell short in a decider against Alex Dolgopolov and the ‘future of Spanish tennis’ was beaten by a serve/volleyer on clay.
Coric was close against Dolgo and made for a decent in-play bet, but Pablo Carreno-Busta will be disappointed to lose on a slow clay court to Sergiy Stakhovsky – particularly ¬with the latter playing his first match on clay since last year’s French Open.
Round one completes and round two begins on Tuesday and for the record last year’s second round produced 13 winning favourites from 16, with Carreno-Busta’s win over Gael Monfils the pick of the prices at 3.70.
Gilles Simon vs Benjamin Balleret
Futures level veteran Balleret gets a wild card here in Monaco most years and pretty much every year he gets beaten, with no wins in the main draw here since 2006.
That win was a retirement from Seb Grosjean, so his only main draw win here in a completed match came the year before in 2005 when he beat Christophe Rochus.
Interestingly, Balleret is the same rank today as he was that day against Rochus ¬– number 351 – and he faces Simon, who beat him easily here back in 2012.
Gillou is 10-0 when priced up as a favourite between 1.03 and 1.10 and he will surely win this, but in those 10 matches he has only won in straight sets twice – once against Ballaret in that 2012 clash and against Pablo Andujar in the 2009 Australian Open.
Simon can be backed in a multiple with David Ferrer to beat Victor Estrella Burgos and Novak Djokovic to beat Albert Ramos in straight sets, which pays 1.33.
Djokovic has never dropped a set to an opponent ranked outside the world’s top-50 in six matches in Monte-Carlo and never have any of those opponents even managed five games in a set.
Jeremy Chardy vs Diego Sebastian Schwartzman
Chardy has a dire record in this tournament of only one career win in six matches and that one victory was a final set tie break success over Igor Sijsling last year.
The Frenchman is coming off a long trip to Houston, where he was beaten on HarTru American red clay by Kevin Anderson, but that dirt is different to the European clay and he’ll need to acclimatise to this after that transatlantic trip.
Schwartzman is often underrated by the layers and I have very little faith in Chardy as a 1.55 shot in this 11:00 UK time start on Court 2 in his first meet with the diminutive Argentine.
The world number 62 will be well tuned in to conditions here in Monte-Carlo after qualifying without dropping a set and I much prefer the 1.55 about Schwartzman winning with a set start than the same price about Chardy winning the match.
Other bets that look well worth considering include Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both to go over 9.5 games in set one at 1.94 and 1.72 respectively, with both Frenchmen having had injury issues.
Monfils in particular will be rusty on clay, having not played since a heavy fall in Miami and the +1.5 sets on opponent Andrey Kuznetsov also appeals at 2.12.
Tommy Robredo vs Andreas Seppi
This pair have had some real scraps on all surfaces over the years and this 10th career clash between the Spaniard and Italian looks set to go long once again.
Robredo’s greater mental strength has tended to be the deciding factor in many of their matches over the years and after nine matches and 25 sets contested between them they’re only separated by two games in total.
Seppi has won two of the three on clay and Robredo’s results on the dirt have been poor of late, with no wins in his last eight clay matches versus top-50 ranked opposition.
The last time that the Spaniard won a completed match against such opposition was the Umag final in 2013 when he faced a fatigued Fabio Fognini and Seppi looks very tempting today to win this in a decider at a tasty 5.80.
The Italian has had a good season so far and he’s improved his serve since his last clash with Robredo, who looks beatable today.
Over 21.5 total games at 1.89 looks very good too, with six of their eight three sets meetings going to a deciding set.
Sure thing: Back Simon, Ferrer and Djokovic 2-0 at 1.33
Value bet: Back Schwartzman +1.5 sets to beat Chardy at 1.55
Long shot: Back Seppi to beat Robredo 2-1 at 5.80