Whilst I will not be actively making any plays today at the Challenger level, there was a bit of interest on Twitter for a quick preview of some of the action scheduled for today in Prague and Todi. Here are a couple of matches that stand out for today that I will be keeping a very close eye on for my own benefit.
Machac vs Ivashka
Tomas Machac is one of the up-and-coming Czech guns, who is nearing the Top 250 at just 19 years of age. He has a 24/14 career record on clay, and he has taken some big strides forward in the last 12 months. If he were to win today, it will be his best win of his career in terms of opponent ranking on clay. I do like his chances today with Ivashka playing on his least-preferred surface, having only played a couple of exhibitions on clay over the tour suspension period. Ivashka dominated their previous meeting on indoor hardcourt, however the switch to clay, as well as the observed progression of Machac since their meeting leads me to think he is a decent chance today.
Why am I not betting this myself? I feel there are a little too many variables that I cannot account for and I want to observe. Does the first round bye hinder Ivashka? Machac defeated Stakhovsky in round 1, however can you put much weight to that? I would rather see a larger body of work in this battle of a younger player versus an older, more experienced player on a surface of weakness.
Ofner vs Kolar
Sebastian Ofner put together a very impressive stint of claycourt tennis whilst the tour was on hold. The highlight was probably defeating Dominic Thiem, however the overall body of work was impressive from the Austrian. He was able to take advantage of what turned out to be a very well run exhibition across a number of weeks.
Zdenek Kolar is one of the trickier players to get a read on, with quite a significant difference between his best and worst tennis. He was able to put a solid stint together in exhibitions as well. I am fascinated to see which Kolar is in Prague, or if we may see both in one match.
Why am I not betting this myself? Ofner retired from his most recent outing, down 2-5. With limited information regarding the reasoning and how he is feeling now, I would rather observe what should be an interesting match.
Kovalik vs Menedez
I wouldn’t consider making a play on this match, however I cannot wait to see what unfolds. I have struggled to get a read on Menendez at times over the years, however I am more interested in what Kovalik produces today. Menendez has the advantage of having played and won in round 1 (defeated Molleker in straight sets), and the Spaniard will make Kovalik work for the victory here, as he did by breaking down the game of Molleker in round 1. No value in the current odds from what I have seen.
Alcaraz vs Moroni
I will keep this short. At 17 years of age, keep an eye on Carlos Alcaraz Garfia. The tennis he was able to produce at the age of 16 at the start of the year was incredibly impressive. He is too short to bet, and Moroni can be a streaky player that is sometimes difficult to catch, however if you haven’t seen Alzaraz play, I would highly recommend you tune into this match above all others.
Why am I not betting this myself? Alcaraz is sub-$1.25. There will be peaks and troughs with his performances at his age, and I don’t see value in that price, especially with a sometimes streaky opponent at the other end of the court in Moroni.