With the Davis Cup semi finals and play-offs over, it’s back to the ATP Tour grind this week with tournaments in Metz and St Petersburg ahead of the upcoming Asian swing.
Monday is a quiet opening to the week with just the one first round match in Metz, but it promises to be a fascinating one. Huge serving Frenchman Albano Olivetti takes on American veteran James Blake at 7pm UK time this evening. If ever a match-up went in favour of the betting underdog it’s this one, so it’s well worth risking a wager on Olivetti at a price of around 2.34.
Blake has a poor record against big servers, as he just isn’t able to return bombs as his losing record against Ivo Karlovic, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Andy Roddick shows. Against those four opponents Blake’s record is 6-22 and although Olivetti isn’t in that sort of class he does possess a massive serve. If Blake does win this it won’t be easy.
Olivetti was last seen on the Challenger Tour reaching the final of the Segovia Challenger in Spain a few weeks ago. His only appearance in the main draw of an indoor hard court tour level event - in Marseille in February - saw him reach the quarter-finals when he stunned Mardy Fish at odds of 5.60. He’s been given a wild card here this week and it will be interesting to see how the 20-year-old fares with a bit more experience under his belt.
Blake is making his debut in this tournament and he hasn’t made an impression indoors lately, with 11 first or second round exits from his last 13 indoor hard court events stretching back to 2009. All things considered, I wouldn’t be touching Blake at 1.57 in this final portion of his career, against a young player who should challenge him.
My second bet today is to take the overs in the match between Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Evgeny Donskoy in St Petersburg. Garcia-Lopez’s career can be summed up by his two matches in New York a few weeks ago. He followed a tremendous and unlikely comeback from two sets down to beat Juan Monaco with a straight sets thumping by Fabio Fognini.
But he does have at least some sort of pattern indoors; of his last 10 wins on indoor hard, eight have gone to a deciding set. I can’t imagine Donskoy winning this one easily despite his decent form in Challengers lately. The 22-year-old from Moscow beat Olivetti to win the Segovia Challenger and won the Astana Challenger a few weeks prior to that. He has also compiled a 20-4 record since Wimbledon.
Whether those wins amount to enough to justify the layers having Donskoy as 1.80 favourite is questionable though, as his record against top-100 ranked players is poor - three wins from 18 matches lifetime. Those three wins came against players ranked in the 90s and weren’t in tour-level tournaments, so it looks risky backing Donskoy to step up his level today at odds-on. The total games mark is set at 22.5 and I’m taking the overs at 1.80 as my second wager today.
Back Olivetti to beat Blake at 2.34
Back over 22.5 games in Donskoy vs Garcia Lopez at 1.80