Sean’s ATP Marbella/Cagliari Day 2 Preview

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The clay court action continues at the Sardegna Open and Andalucia Open on Tuesday, with 15 matches on the schedule on day two of the main draws. Sean Calvert is back to cast his eye over the day’s play.

It’s always nice to get off to a winning start on the clay and Federico Delbonis ensured that we did that on Monday with a very nice performance against the limited Roberto Carballes Baena in Marbella.

In hindsight, I should have taken Ricardas Berankis as well against Lucas Pouille after advising the latter to be too short in price for that clash and Berankis duly won it in three.

My longshot punt on Juan Ignacio Londero didn’t work out in Marbella, but now that the qualifiers have been set into the draws in Marbella and Sardinia the obvious pricing error is Paddy Power/Betfair’s 80-1 about Sumit Nagal.

He’s been slotted in to Q2 of the draw alongside Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff, so potentially a winnable quarter for Nagal, who’s been playing very well on the clay of late.

I’m allowed a maximum of £1.00 on in total across both companies, so I won’t be getting rich off that, but if you are able to get on that looks good value.

Perhaps an even better one – and more likely to be able to obtain – is the 125-1 that Bet365 have come up with about Bernabe Zapata Miralles in Marbella.

He’s been playing some very good tennis lately – even on hard courts – and he qualified nicely, beating Donskoy and Gulbis comfortably, so he’ll be confident at the moment and while we already have Francisco Cerundolo in Q1 this price can’t be ignored.

Moving on to Tuesday’s matches in this week’s two tournaments now and it’s a busy day, with 15 matches in total scheduled at the Sardegna Open and Andalucia Open.

The weather forecast is predicting a very windy day in Cagliari, with 20mph winds expected all day long there, so that’s something to think about when placing your bets on Tuesday in Sardinia.

Conditions are forecast to be far calmer in Marbella on Tuesday, with a breeze of around 5mph on a mainly cloudy day of around 20C temperatures.

Starting in Marbella and the first two underdogs to consider are ones where they might win it on fitness, with Gianluca Mager and Pedro Martinez both potentially worth taking on.

Mager played 13 sets here last week to win the Marbella Challenger and had to come from a set behind in the quarters, semis and the final, so he may well be running on empty when he takes on Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday afternoon.

Kuku isn’t usually at his best on the clay, but he does pop up with results on it when he’s in the mood and he beat Fabio Fognini as a 2.90 chance at the French Open as recently as last October.

Fognini wasn’t at his best physically in that match by about the end of the third set, but nonetheless Kuku’s flat hitting worked well for him that day against a fine clay courter and at 3.50 (Sky Bet, Betway) I don’t mind chancing him against an opponent who may well be running on empty.

Pedro Martinez’s comeback from the abdominal injury that he suffered at the Australian Open in February didn’t go so well when he retired a set and 2-0 down to Tennys Sandgren in Miami last week.

That retirement was due to the same issue and it can’t be good news for a player who likes to get involved in long rallies on the clay, which must give Ilya Ivashka a chance, even on a surface, like Kukushkin, that doesn’t really suit him that well.

We saw yesterday that you don’t have to be an out and out clay dog to have success on this surface, with Egor Gerasimov and Soonwoo Kwon both winning against opponents much more at home on the clay than they.

Ivashka was in decent form in Miami, beating Kwon and losing in a tight one to Denis Shapovalov, so while I wouldn’t expect him to beat a fit Martinez on this surface I’m happy to take a chance on him at 2.80 (in from 3.0) against a player who hasn’t completed a match for two months.

Switching to the Sardegna Open and the layers really are running scared of Lorenzo Musetti at the moment, having made him 1.50 favourite to beat Marin Cilic on a hard court last week in Miami (he lost) and favourite to win the tournament this week.

Musetti is a quality player, no doubt, but he’s still learning at this level and 1.20 to beat Dennis Novak is a bit of an insult to Novak, who might well enjoy the status of heavy underdog in this one.

Novak’s another one that’s usually better in faster conditions, but he can play on clay, and might we see some nerves from Musetti now that much is expected of him playing at home?

The last time Musetti played on clay he lost as a 1.29 chance in the Gran Canaria Challenger to Alex Molcan and that was only five or six weeks ago. He hasn’t played on clay since and Novak +1.5 sets at 2.40 (Bet Victor) is certainly an option in that match.

Marco Cecchinato also looks short given that he hasn’t found any form this year – even on the clay – although he was close to winning the title in Sardinia back in October.

Perhaps that’s what the layers have in mind here, but 1.29 is short considering he’s playing a fellow Italian in Thomas Fabbiano, albeit one who’s not back to his best after not really playing much last season. Fabbiano at a shade above evens to win a set in this one is another reasonable option.

While Federico Coria has to be favourite against John Millman, I’m not at all sure that this will be a comfortable success for the Argentine, who doesn’t appear to me to be up to a great deal at this level.

His numbers from his 13 main level matches on clay in the last 12 months are reasonable enough (hold/break total of 99), but not good enough to send fear into many players and he doesn’t have the sort of big game to allow him to overpower anyone.

Millman has been in poor form lately, but he’s had a good few weeks off now and he’s been practicing at the Ferrero academy, while Coria’s been in Miami, so it wouldn’t shock me at all to see Millman do something in this match.

Nor would it be a huge surprise if Joao Sousa found some form against the hard to predict German Jan-Lennard Struff, but I wouldn’t bet on it given the way that Sousa has played the last year or so.

So, quite a few possible options today, and I’ll take a chance for small stakes on three underdogs on day two, plus a couple of big-priced updates to the outrights.

Best Bets

0.5 points win Ivashka to beat Martinez Portero at 2.80 (generally)

0.5 points win Kukushkin to beat Mager at 3.50 (Sky Bet, Betway)

0.5 points win Novak +1.5 sets to beat Musetti at 2.40 (Bet Victor)

0.5 points each-way Zapatta Miralles outright at 125-1 (Bet 365)

0.5 points each-way Nagal outright at 80-1 (Betfair/Paddy Power)