Round two of the Andalucia Open and the Sardegna Open is the order of the day on the ATP Tour on Wednesday and Sean Calvert is here for the final time this week to run the rule over the value selections on day three.
Tuesday’s play on the clay of Cagliari and Marbella started out nicely for our bets when Ilya Ivashka provided us with a 2.80 winner, and in straight sets too, over Pedro Martinez, but it all went rather wrong from there.
Mikhail Kukushkin started brightly and our 3.50 underdog traded at 1.69 when he led by a break in the opener against Gianluca Mager, but his serve went AWOL at the wrong time and it was curtains for the Kazakh after he let that opening set lead slip.
Had he won set one it would have been all to play for against a fatigued opponent, but it wasn’t to be and the only other decent underdog that won was one I talked about in Tuesday’s preview and that was John Millman, who did upset Federico Coria, so we missed out on that one.
Then three bad losses hit hard on the outrights.
Francisco Cerundolo, Sumit Nagal and Bernabe Zapata MIralles all lost disappointingly as favourites to leave us reeling a bit and facing yet another poor week on the outright front unless Nikoloz Basilashvili fancies it this week.
Moving on to Wednesday’s play and again the conditions in Cagliari will be tricky, with more strong winds forecast.
The wind speed is expected to be between 20 and 24mph all day in Cagliari, which is roughly the same as we saw on Tuesday, and it definitely affected some players more than others on day two.
Jan-Lennard Struff was one of those affected and he should have been beaten by Joao Sousa, who was 1.04 in-play when he led 5-2 in the decider and the Portuguese failed with five match points in total.
Struff will need to improve to get past the in-form Liam Broady, who had no problems despatching Marc-Andrea Huesler in the wind on Tuesday.
Broady made the final of the Biella 3 Challenger a few weeks back and then played well in Miami before coming here and qualifying before beating Huesler, so he’ll be feeling great about his game at the moment.
The same can’t be said of Struff, who has lost six of his last eight matches (should have been seven, but for Sousa’s failure to see it out) and hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the first week in February.
I feel that the wind will be a big factor here, with the big German not the best of movers and he likes to have a solid base from which to unleash his heavy groundstrokes.
Having to adjust last minute because the wind’s intervened makes him struggle rather like Tomas Berdych used to when it got windy and the nimbler Broady is better suited to cope.
The Brit looks the most viable of the underdogs today and I’ll take him at around 2.62 generally.
Following Broady/Struff we have an intriguing contest between Egor Gerasimov and Aljaz Bedene and at first glance at the prices one might think that given his superior clay form Bedene should be a little shorter.
But Bedene was pretty poor and fortunate to edge past a hobbled Giulio Zeppieri on Monday in a final set tie break in a match that kept the trainer and doctor busy from early on.
Bedene had some pills dispensed to him and had his fingers taped up, while Zeppieri had his calf strapped up and was barely moving by the end of an eventful, but scrappy encounter – especially from Bedene’s side of things.
Gerasimov took advantage of a very rusty and wayward Guido Pella in round one and isn’t often seen on the clay swing, but unless Bedene improves (maybe he was struggling with illness) Gerasimov could well take advantage again.
Gerasimov beat Bedene about six weeks ago, but in much quicker conditions, and it looks a horrible one to bet on, so I won’t.
Then it’s another one that looks really tricky, with my 33-1 hope Nikoloz Basilashvili taking on perennial underachiever Jozef Kovalik, who’ll probably choose this week to make the main level final that his ability probably deserves.
We’ve got the value with Basil, who’s a best-price 12-1 now before he’s even hit a ball and we know he plays well in the wind if the mood takes him because it was gale force in Doha when he won the title there a few weeks back.
Basil won their only prior meeting, but that was a long time ago, and I’m really just hoping that he produces something close to his Doha form here, but it’s absolutely anyone’s guess whether he will or not.
Kovalik hasn’t found any consistency at this level, winning only five main level matches since losing in a final set breaker to Leo Mayer in the 2018 Hamburg semi final – his closest yet to an ATP Tour final.
He’s gone 5-18 since then, but if Basil reverts to his bad level then there’s every chance for Kovalik in this one.
The last match of the day is interesting indeed, with Taylor Fritz unlikely to enjoy a windy day on the clay, with his footwork about to get a test from Andrej Martin, who beat a lacklustre Jiri Vesely yesterday.
Vesely was barely moving by the end of that match and the wind probably didn’t help him either, so it will be interesting to see how Fritz copes with the change of surface and tough conditions.
Clay dog Martin is one possible option for today, but perhaps a little bit short at only 2.50.
Very briefly on Marbella, where they have four pretty short favourites on Wednesday – and I can’t make a solid case for any of them unfortunately.
That doesn’t mean they won’t win, but Ricardas Berankis, Norbert Gombos and Soonwoo Kwon on clay against very experienced red dirt operators, such as Albert Ramos, Federico Delbonis and Facundo Bagnis seems difficult to back with any confidence.
Delbonis played very well the other day, which may well mean he’s awful today, as that’s what he tends to do and maybe Gombos can rush him into mistakes with his aggressive style.
And perhaps the most likely of the dogs in Marbella is Mario Vilella Martinez, purely on the basis that Pablo Carreno Busta has been inactive for a few weeks, but PCB has been hitting the clay practice courts hard and it’s tough to make much of a case for an upset there either.
So, I’ll just take Broady on a windy day in Cagliari.
0.5 points win Broady to beat Struff at 2.62 (generally)