The clay court action continues at the German Open Tennis Championships in Hamburg on Tuesday after a perfect start to the week for this column on Monday.
Pablo Andujar eased to a straight sets win over Mate Delic before lunch, after which Tobias Kamke recovered from a bit of choke in set two to ease past Jarkko Nieminen and record a nice 2.40 success.
Tuesday’s card at the Rothenbaum features 10 first and second round matches and my first fancy starts at around 13:00 UK time today.
Alexander Zverev vs Robin Haase
This looks a potential upset in the making, with the highly rated German teenager taking on the out of form Dutchman.
Hamburg-born 17-year-old Zverev sees this event in his hometown as the “the most important tournament of the year,” and he certainly has the ability to take down the slumping Haase here.
Highly rated by plenty of judges, including the German Davis Cup captain Carsten Arriens, Zverev became one of the youngest players ever to win a Challenger title when he won in Braunschweig two weeks ago.
Zverev took that clay title by beating the likes of Kamke, Andrey Golubev, and Paul-Henri Mathieu and he was a little unfortunate to lose his next match, which was in Stuttgart last week in two breakers to eventual finalist Lukas Rosol.
So, he’s in fine form and Arriens has been quoted this week as saying of Zverev that he’s “an outstanding, extraordinary talent,” which is pretty decent praise indeed.
Haase on the other hand has failed to better the second round in any of his last eight tournaments at all levels and lost to Jesse Huta Galung on clay in the Scheveningen Challenger last week.
The +1.5 sets and +3.5 games appeal here, as does the outright win at 2.55, with the set handicap looking a very solid choice at around 1.60.
Those reading early enough for the 09:30 starts will look to Albert Ramos to beat Jerzy Janowicz, with the slumping Pole again struggling with a left foot problem.
The odds aren’t great on Ramos though, who is one of only two left-handers that JJ has beaten on clay at tour level, at around 1.39.
Dominic Thiem is another who should move on to the next round today, but the Austrian sensation is a tad short for my liking at around 1.54 against Marcel Granollers, as is Santiago Giraldo at 1.38 against the unpredictable Benoit Paire.
Tommy Robredo vs Daniel Gimeno-Traver
The recently married Gimeno-Traver has a shot against Robredo, who will be keen to avoid a repeat of last week’s result in Bastad, where he was beaten in straight sets by world number 282 Renzo Olivo.
Tommy has been poor on clay this year, with seven losses as favourite at prices ranging from 1.12 to 1.53 and he can’t be trusted these days at shortish odds such as today’s 1.38.
DGT had a very easy time of it in his opener here against Teimuraz Gabashvili, whose injuries seem to be public knowledge, and the Russian was friendless in the market ahead of that simple win for the Spaniard yesterday.
Hopefully, DGT’s recent nuptials will have given him a boost and he certainly has enough in that forehand to take a set off an opponent that has failed to win more than two matches in any clay event in his last eight tournaments.
James Ward took a set off Robredo in heavy conditions at the French Open, where Tommy lost to John Isner and combined with his other clay results this year the +1.5 on DGT at 1.77 looks decent.
Talking of veteran Spaniards who are struggling for form, David Ferrer plays at around 17:00 UK time today and he might be worth opposing in some form or other against the inconsistent Mikhail Kukushkin.
The latter took a set off Rafa Nadal on Centre Court at Wimbledon, then promptly lost in to sets to world number 315 Elias Ymer in his next match, which sums him up, but on a good day he can test a struggling Ferrer.
Ferrer has never lost to Kuku, but he has lost as 1.04 and 1.12 favourite in two of his last three matches and was poor last week. The +6.5 games on Kukushkin should land in that one.
Julian Reister vs Lukas Rosol
My final bet today is to side with crowd favourite Julian Reister as underdog against Lukas Rosol.
We saw yesterday with Kamke how the home advantage can work well here and Hamburg born and bred Reister has had good results at the Rothenbaum, including wins over Fernando Verdasco, Denis Istomin and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his last few visits here.
Rosol went well last week in Stuttgart where he made the final, but how much has got left after playing the final on Sunday and the desire of Reister, who should have beaten Carlos Berlocq last week, may win the day here.
The German has won his last two against Rosol, whose inconsistency makes him a questionable wager at the best of times and the 2.28 on Reister looks the call here.
Back Zverev +1.5 sets to beat Haase at 1.60
Back Gimeno-Traver +1.5 sets to beat Robredo at 1.77
Back Reister to beat Rosol at 2.28