Sunday’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia final between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal failed to live up to its billing, but it was another winner for this column. I said yesterday that Nadal was likely to take the title with a bit to spare, and my minus 4.5 game handicap wager on the Pearl de Manacor never looked in danger as Rafa took Federer apart.
The big names take a well-earned break ahead of the French Open, but the tour goes on and we have two ATP 250 events to concentrate on this week. The Open de Nice Cote d’Azur and the Power Horse Cup in Dusseldorf respectively are a final opportunity for some to get clay court match practice in before Roland Garros starts in seven days.
There could be some interesting results this week because with a major looming large on the horizon. Last year in Nice there were five underdog winners from 12 first-round matches and this year Dusseldorf has a new format to replace the round robin of years previous.
The first thing to notice in today’s uninspiring set of first round clashes is that Carlos Berlocq plays Leonardo Mayer in singles then teams up with Mayer in doubles straight afterwards - which is slightly unusual. I shall certainly be avoiding betting on that match.
The best value that I can see today on the men’s matches is with Yen Hsun Lu against the out-of-form Andreas Seppi on the handicap. Seppi has been poor this clay swing, winning just eight games in total in his last two matches, which leads me to question the 1.12 quote about an Italian win today against a capable player in Lu.
Clay isn’t Lu’s best surface by any means but I can’t see Seppi being able to suddenly raise his level a number of notches from the awful stuff he’s been producing lately. Seppi probably will win this in two, but he’s struggled against Lu in the past on hard courts. With his confidence low he’s more likely to stumble over the line here.
Best bet: Back Lu +5.5 games to beat Seppi at 1.82