Day two in Moscow, Stockholm and Vienna on week 42 of the 2015 ATP World Tour is a busy one, with 22 matches to consider on Tuesday.
We managed to find a nice winner on Monday, with Lucas Miedler taking the set we required of him from Ernests Gulbis, but there was a surprise loss for Joao Sousa and Radu Albot wasn’t up to it against Andrey Kuznetsov.
Jarkko Nieminen v Daniel Munoz De La Nava
Surely there’s not much chance of Nieminen losing in round one to De La Nava in the Finn’s last ever tournament at his ‘home’ event.
Nieminen brings the curtain down on his career after this week in Sweden and he’s chosen the Stockholm Open, as it’s the closest to home, and he has done well here over the years, with a 63 percent winning record.
Clearly, he’s declined of late and this season for him has been more of a retirement tour than anything else, but he’s likely to have saved everything for this week and he’s been here practicing for at least a week.
He faces veteran Spanish clay courter Munoz De La Nava at around 17:30 and he hasn’t played a single match away from clay since losing in round one of Wimbledon qualies in the summer.
Munoz De La Nava has played 73 matches this season and 61 of them have been on clay, with his last match on indoor hard being a loss to Louk Sorensen at the 2013 Andria Challenger.
Indeed, his overall record indoors is 2-7, and the gap in motivation here looks substantial. Nieminen is today’s ‘sure thing’.
Other options include David Ferrer over Albert Ramos, but after last week’s disaster with Roger Federer I’m not so sure, and John Isner against Kenny De Schepper.
Dominic Thiem vs Jerzy Janowicz
Another highly motivated player this week is Thiem, playing at his home event, and he faces an opponent under an injury cloud, who could well be brushed aside relatively quickly in Janowicz.
The Pole is always dangerous with his serve, but he’s been struggling with a knee problem that JJ has had stem cell treatment on recently.
Happily for us Janowicz’s mother is often ready and willing to discuss her son’s condition with the media and this time she says: “He is not 100 percent ready but has decided to take a chance.”
He was due to qualify here, but got moved to the main draw, and he hasn’t played now since October 4 when he was beaten by Jan Lennard Struff in the final of the Orleans Challenger.
JJ has won only four of his last-14 against top-20 ranked opponents and he looks up against it versus an opponent in decent form, who has been facing big servers often of late, and is very keen to do well in this tournament.
Thiem has beaten Feli Lopez, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios and Lukas Rosol, so he can handle big servers and facing one today at around 17:30 UK time that isn’t fully fit he looks good value at 1.79 to cover a -2.5 game handicap.
I also like the under 23.5 games in the big-serving battle between De Schepper and Isner, with the latter breaking serve more often these days, and the Frenchman has very little in his game other than a big leftie delivery.
Isner has played only three tie breaks in his 14 sets since the US Open and he should win this with something to spare.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs Santiago Giraldo
This 19:30 UK time clash in Vienna has the makings of a real battle and it’s one that GGL could well edge by two sets to one at a nice price of around 4.0.
Garcia-Lopez has a good record indoors and won the Zagreb tournament in similar conditions back in the spring, but he does have a poor 1-6 record here in Vienna.
Playing conditions have changed considerably since that record of one win in seven matches was compiled, so it may not be too relevant and perhaps more of a factor is the tight head-to-head between the pair.
In four matches against each other the score is 2-2, with all four going to a deciding set, including the only one on indoor hard at the Paris Masters a few years ago and the one on outdoor hard in Auckland last season.
A notoriously slow starter GGL has won 15 times from a set down in 2014 and so far in 2015 and after a poor showing in Beijing and Shanghai following a good one in Shenzhen it’s probably time for GGL to start playing again.
Giraldo split with his coach Felipe Baron earlier this month and his performances lately have been lacking, which may well tell in the latter stages of this one.
Elsewhere, Gael Monfils hasn’t played since August 31, due to a back injury, and he’s now started working with Good To Great Academy coach Mikael Tillstrom.
He could well be rusty and Thomaz Bellucci to win set one at 2.70 isn’t a bad option as an alternative.
Sure thing: Back Nieminen to beat De La Nava at 1.35
Value bet: Back Thiem -2.5 games to beat Janowicz at 1.79
Long shot: Back Garcia-Lopez to beat Giraldo 2-1 at 4.0