The 2014 ATP Tour moves on to Rotterdam, Buenos Aires and Memphis in week seven, with 12 first round matches on the schedule for Monday.
The week’s biggest event in terms of ranking points can be found in Rotterdam, where the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament is worth 500 ranking points to the winner and the prize pot is €1.5 million.
The former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek is the tournament director and he has again opted for a slow, Proflex indoor hard surface with Tecnifibre X-One balls that will make for sluggish conditions in this formerly fast event at the Ahoy Stadium.
Over in Memphis, they play the US National Indoor Tennis Championships on a Latexite indoor hard surface and Wilson Regular Duty balls, which tends to make for medium to slow conditions. This ATP 250 event has a $648,000 prize fund and Kei Nishikori is back to defend his title.
The clay event on the Golden Swing this week is in Argentina, where the Copa Claro is held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club and the red clay’s speed will depend a lot on the prevailing weather conditions.
Of today’s matches the underdogs that look worthy of consideration in my view are Sergiy Stakhovsky in Rotterdam and Michael Russell in Memphis, but there seem to be several solid-looking favourites around too.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1.15 vs Florian Mayer 5.00 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 18.35
This is not a good match-up for the German, who has not even been close to Tsonga in four rather simple defeats in their four career meetings so far.
The aggressive, power hitting of the Frenchman unsettles the more tactical German and I’m not at all sure that the Mayer slice will work too well on these stodgy courts at the Ahoy Stadium in Rotterdam.
Tsonga played very well indeed in an impressive dismissal of Lleyton Hewitt in Davis Cup last time out and I would suspect that Mayer will go away all too tamely should he lose the first set here.
The minus 3.5 games on Tsonga at 1.63 looks a sound option here, with Jo having beaten Flo by a margin of five games or more in all four of their career matches.
Qualifying results in Rotterdam have shown that, as expected, first serve points won are lower than normal for an indoor hard court event indicating the slowness of the conditions here and that puts me off Michael Berrer at 1.45 against Jesse Huta Galung.
Although the German veteran should win, that price is probably too short in these circumstances and it also makes me think twice about Stakhovksy. The Ukrainian has won on slow indoor hard before though and he is still worth considering against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who was very flat against Dan Evans a few days ago.
Marinko Matosevic 1.55 vs Jiri Vesely 2.35 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 20.05
For my second bet today we head to Memphis, where Aussie Matosevic takes on young Czech prospect Vesely at 8.05pm UK time.
I’m happy to side with the 1.55 about Matosevic here, with Vesely still very inexperienced away from the clay and he plays only his third ATP Tour event on indoor hard at the US National Indoor Tennis Championships this week.
His first two ventures into this territory ended in losses to Carlos Berlocq in Metz and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Moscow at the end of last season and the powerful Matosevic has the goods to take advantage here.
Marinko performed very well at home in Brisbane and Sydney to kick off the year before another bad draw at a major in Nishikori, but I expect him to progress at the expense of the 20-year-old tonight.
Back Tsonga –3.5 games to beat Mayer at 1.63
Back Matosevic to beat Vesely at 1.55