More bad weather meant that there no play at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur on Monday, but there was better news from Dusseldorf, where my bet was a winner.
Despite taking only four of 15 break point chances, Florian Mayer eased past Igor Andreev to get the week off to a great start.
If the weather holds in Nice, today’s schedule sees more first round matches squeezed in. The early game on Court 7, which begins at 10am, catches my eye for betting purposes.
A lot has been written about the comeback of former French Open junior runner-up Brian Baker since he won the Savannah Challenger and was awarded a wild card into this year’s Roland Garros, and today he takes on Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The American, whose promising career has been wrecked by injury, is on the comeback trail after five years away from the tour and he’s on a roll at the moment and on an 11 match winning streak on clay. This is a player who grew up alongside the likes of Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the juniors and had success against them, so he’s certainly got enough talent to beat Stakhovsky.
The obvious worry is his fitness, but he’s had several weeks off since Savannah. The three matches he’s played to reach the first round proper have been comfortable wins and should stand him in good stead. Baker has beaten some decent players in his current run and beaten them well.
Slow clay isn’t really the ideal surface for Stakhovsky and although he’s ranked over 100 places higher than Baker at the moment, I can see the American’s clay court pedigree coming through in this one. He can be backed at 1.72
The night match is scheduled to be Juan Carlos Ferrero v Robin Haase and I fancy the Spaniard to get the better of the Dutchman in this clash.
Ferrero is coming to the end of his career and doesn’t play too many tournaments these days, but he showed in Rome last week that he still retains the ability that took him to world number one. The Mosquito defeated Gael Monfils and Kevin Anderson in Italy before taking a set from an in-form Roger Federer, which shows that he’s in good touch at the moment.
Haase took full advantage of Juan Monaco’s injury in Monte-Carlo to make the quarter finals He’s also done OK since, but I suspect that he’ll find Ferrero too consistent today. It’s never easy to predict what you’re going to get from Haase, who can be very good on his day, but the percentage call in this is to back the more natural clay courter and Ferrero, who ispriced at 1.6, should grind him down eventually.
The damp weather conditions should mean that the courts play quite slowly, leading to longer rallies. The Dutchman will probably be the one who coughs up the errors first rather than the more measured former French Open champion.
They have met once before, on grass back in 2006, a surface that should have favoured Haase. But Ferrero took that one and I think he’ll do the same tonight.
Back Baker to beat Stakhovsky at 1.72
Back Ferrero to beat Haase at 1.6