A tricky week eight on the ATP Tour ended well for this column with a winning best bet in the final of the Open 13 in Marseille. I said yesterday that Tomas Berdych was a touch short in the betting and that the best play was to back the three sets at 2.20, which proved a good tactic, although Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to hold off a match point to get there.
My other Sunday suggestion also proved to be a winner, with the Copa Claro final also going to a deciding set before David Ferrer won out.
This week’s big event on the tour is the $2 million Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in which the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are competing. There’s also the ATP 250 Delray Beach Championships in Florida and the combined ATP/WTA clay court event in Acapulco.
Federer is the main draw on day one in Dubai, as he takes on Malek Jaziri as a 1.01 shot at around 3pm UK time. But it’s the match following that one which interests me the most today. Somdev Devvarman still seems a very decent price at around 1.82, despite opening at closer to 1.94 against limited Russian journeyman Igor Kunitsyn.
I assume that the price is connected to the 3-0 head-to-head lead that Kunitsyn has over Devvarman, but those matches were between 2008 and 2010 when Kunitsyn was a much more regular feature in the main draw at tour level. He hasn’t won a match at tour level since defeating Brian Baker in Atlanta last summer - one of only four matches that he won at tour level last season. Devvarman is getting back to decent form after long-term injury and has been playing at a much higher level in the last few months, while Kunitsyn has been losing to the likes of Mathieu Rodrigues and Romain Jouan.
Kunitsyn has made the main draw thanks to a retirement from Ivan Sergeyev in the final qualifying round, but his 4-15 first round record in 2012 at tour level is a good indicator of his level is right now.
In Dubai it will be interesting to see if David Goffin can turn his recent slump around against Roberto Bautista-Agut, who is 1.62 favourite against the young Belgian. Goffin has really lost his way lately and was double bagelled by Jarkko Nieminen in Rotterdam a few weeks ago. I’m sure he’ll be back, but I wouldn’t put a penny on him at the moment.
There are injury and illness concerns surrounding Andreas Seppi and Mikhail Youzhny, so I wouldn’t be piling in on those two at odds-on today, although I would expect Youzhny to perk up at a tournament he enjoys.
There aren’t too many players that I would trust Lukas Rosol to beat at odds of 1.47 but you would think that in quick conditions in Dubai Rosol might be able to see off Matteo Viola. We did see a lot of the big hitters struggle for control in the women’s tournament here last week though, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see Rosol lose in a flurry of unforced errors.
About the only one I would consider at a short price today would be Daniel Brands, who should take care of Florent Serra. But on a quiet opening day in Dubai Devvarman, looks a good bet.
Best bet: Back Devvarman to beat Kunitsyn at 1.82