The ATP World Tour moves on from Monte Carlo to Bucharest and Barcelona on Week 17, as the European clay court swing continues. The high-profile event this week takes place in the latter city, where the likes of Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer top the bill in the ATP 500 event. Janko Tipsarevic and Gilles Simon head the seeds in Bucharest.
Monday’s schedule in Bucharest sees the remaining qualifying matches take place alongside three first round matches, while the play in Barcelona features ten first round matches. Last year’s tournament in Bucharest saw seven odds-against winner from 12 first round matches, while from 24 first round matches in Barcelona there were just two losing favourites in 2012 – and they were in matches that were priced up as quite close. So Barcelona may be the place to put your money if you’re a favourite backer.
Pablo Andujar should be one player looking to make an impression this week. The Valencia resident has slipped alarmingly down the rankings after a poor run stretching back to the US Open last summer and his failure to defend title ranking points in Casablanca saw him slip to just inside the top 100 from a high of number 33 last September.
But he did show improved form last week in Monte Carlo, where he won three matches before losing from a winning position against Philipp Kohlschreiber. A repeat of that form should see him through to the second round at the expense of Grega Zemlja.
The Slovenian has plenty of experience at Challenger level on the dirt, but he rarely ventures into the realms of tour level on the clay. His two wins over much lower-ranked opposition in Casablanca a couple of weeks ago were his first successes at tour level on clay since the 2010 French Open.
Another Spanish clay courter who should be finding himself in the second round at the end of today is Albert Montanes. The Barcelona local should have too much know-how on the red dirt for Ricardas Berankis, who likes a quicker surface. The Lithuanian did beat Tommy Haas on North American clay in Houston last time out, but is inexperienced on the surface. Indeed the couple of wins he recorded in Texas were his first in the main draw of
a tour level event on clay.
Montanes is nearing the end of his career, but he still has the game to outfox decent players on the clay, as he showed by beating Gael Monfils last week in Monte Carlo. 1.63 is a fair enough price about him outsmarting Berankis today.
Back Andujar to beat Zemlja at 1.60
Back Montanes to beat Berankis at 1.63