We predicted the triumph of Rafa Nadal at ATP Barcelona last week, and in truth you didn’t need to be a clairvoyant to see how the Spaniard’s recent dominance on clay was going to manifest itself in his homeland.
The final of the ATP Bucharest event, featuring the predictable Fernando Verdasco and the less-anticipated Lucas Pouille, was postponed yesterday due to rain and will be completed today.
This week there’s a bumper crop of ATP events in Estoril, Munich and Istanbul, so let’s see if we can pick out another tournament winner.
The top seed at ATP Estoril is the Frenchman, Gilles Simon, and punters will be delighted to hear that he hasn’t progressed past the quarter-final stage of a clay court event since May 2014. This is a favourite we can oppose.
Waiting with menace in the other half of the draw is Nick Kyrgios, who will be making his bow on clay here. He reached the final in the first hosting of this Estoril event last year, where he was beaten by Richard Gasquet. In truth the Aussie had a charmed draw there, and it is suggestible that the red stuff isn’t his most natural surface. At 5/2, he looks remarkably short to triumph here.
Our betting ‘in’ here has to be the potential conqueror of Joao Sousa in quarter three. He has lost two of this three matches on clay this term, and is as unconvincing a number four seed as you can imagine. So who can oppose the Portuguese here?
Leonardo Mayer is the most obvious candidate in that section of the draw. Clay is undoubtedly the world number 45’s best surface, and with a number of ATP Tour event finals under his belt the Argentine can do deep here. His potential route to the last eight includes match-ups with wildcard entry Pedro Sousa, either Paolo Lorenzi or Elias Ymer and then either Sousa himself or Nicolas Almagro, with a semi-final against Kyrgios the likely option. At 28/1 Mayer is worth an each way flutter.
ATP Munich (The BMW Open)
Andy Murray is the reigning champion in Germany, defeating hometown boy Phillip Kohlschreiber in last year’s final, although the Scot has opted not to defend his crown this time around.
That was the second time that Kohlschreiber had lost in the final of this event in two years after winning it in 2012, so the German clearly holds appeal here at 10/1. The draw has been kind(ish) to him, with a probable quarter-final place against either Vasek Pospisil or Juan Martin del Potro awaiting him.
The big problem is a potential last four encounter with Gael Monfils, who looked outstanding in reaching the final – and taking a set – against the rampant Nadal in Monte Carlo a fortnight ago. That is enough to put us off Kohlschreiber, while Monfils, at 5/2, isn’t particularly great value at such a short price despite the obvious talents he brings.
At the top half of the draw we have a straight shootout between the top seed, David Goffin, and Dominic Thiem. Both are available at around 4/1, so there’s not much value there, although these are two of the most-improved players on clay this term. Goffin’s route to the last four appears slightly easier, so he is perhaps the smart back, but at the price there is little to get excited about.
It is this Turkish event that is perhaps the standout this week from a betting perspective. All of the top three seeds – Grigor Dimitrov, Ivo Karlovic and Bernard Tomic – can be ignored with ease given that clay does not suit them one bit. The door is ajar for other big-priced contenders then.
We can attack Karlovic’s quarter of the draw with relish, and it is the frustratingly-inconsistent Marcel Granollers who stands out at 11/1 there. The Spaniard can be outstanding – he has beaten Monfils on clay in the past year and his progress in Barcelona was halted only by Nadal himself – but his inconsistency makes him a tough back.
So punters are left with two options: back Federico Delbonis at 5/1 – he won the ATP Casablanca event a few weeks ago and reached the semis in Bucharest, or back both Diego Schwartzman and Facundo Bagnis at 33/1 and 50/1 each way respectively. They meet in the first round, and the winner has a fantastic opportunity of toppling Tomic in the last 16. That should guide them to the semi-finals at least.