Sean Calvert’s ATP Lyon/Geneva Day 1 Preview

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The build-up to the French Open continues in week 20 of the 2021 ATP Tour with two ATP 250 tournaments on the clay at the Geneva Open and the Open Parc Lyon for Sean Calvert to assess for betting value.

We’re in Lyon and Geneva this week and hopefully we’ll see some tennis, but it could be one of those on/off weeks if the rainy-looking weather forecast is to be believed.

They play at 375m of altitude in Geneva, so it’s usually pretty quick there for a clay event, but I wonder what effect rain will have there this week?

It might help the flatter hitters, as their ball should stay lower, but on the other hand the surface will be slower.

Both Geneva and Lyon now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of not being the final week of the tour before the French Open, so we may see fewer tanky performances than can be the case the week prior to a major.

In Geneva’s five years on the tour so far it’s produced an average of 77% service holds and 37% tie break matches, while Lyon, surprisingly for an event with only a hint of altitude (177m) has averaged 78% holds in its three years on the tour.

As far as underdog success goes, Geneva has produced an average of 34% underdog winners in its five years on the tour and if you’d backed every underdog in those years you’d be slightly down (£45 to a £10 stake) but in profit in each of the last three editions.

Round one has produced an average of 36% underdog winners in Geneva’s five years on the tour and you’d be a fiver down if you’d backed every dog in round one in those three years (but £128 ahead if you’d only done it in the last three editions).

Lyon’s three years on the tour has seen an average of 36% underdogs win and you’d be £67 up (£10 stake) if you’d backed every underdog in those three years.

Round one in Lyon has been a good one for underdog backers, with an average of 39% underdog winners and a profit of £57.55 (£10 stake) if you’d backed them all.

Monday’s schedule in Lyon has four main draw matches on it and assuming they all get played the two that look like possible value underdogs are Gilles Simon and Corentin Moutet.

Simon is past his best these days at the age of 36, but he regularly performs well at this tournament and its predecessor (Nice, where Simon is from) and I suspect he may well put a full effort in here.

Simon made the final of Lyon the last time he played here in 2018 and should really have won it, being a set and 4-2 (double break point for 5-2) up on Dominic Thiem as a 4.62 outsider on the day.

He never failed to make at least the quarters or semis in all his appearances in Nice and the only players he’s lost to in Lyon are Thiem and Tomas Berdych.

He’s no longer that player, but he’s facing an opponent today in Aljaz Bedene, who’s been in wretched form lately and said after two dismal defeats in Rome last week: “Struggled this week @internazionalibnlditalia, haven’t played this poorly in a while. Time to get back on track.”

Bedene’s level has been bad this whole clay swing (and before that even) with a very lucky win over a hobbling Giulio Zeppieri followed up by one against the clay-averse Egor Gerasimov amounting to his best finish so far (a quarter final in Cagliari).

He was also lucky to beat Seb Korda in Belgrade, with the latter leading 5-3 in the third and holding a couple of match points in that one (Korda also scored seven more points in that match), but you could also say having won that match he should have beaten Aslan Karatsev the next round.

In Rome, Bedene struggled past Gian Marco Moroni before being crushed by Hugo Dellien, who’d lost 14 of his previous 17 main level matches and then, when Bedene got into the main draw as a lucky loser, he was beaten three and one by Jan-Lennard Struff.

It’ll be a really cagey, tactical affair between this pair, as their previous meetings have been (never met on clay) and 50% of the sets they’ve contested have gone to tie breaks, with Simon, despite winning 12% more points on second serve in their series, trailing 3-1.

Bedene has relied heavily on his first serve to edge their encounters, but on slow clay and in this form I couldn’t back him at this price against what will likely be a motivated Simon.

Corentin Moutet has won seven of his last nine main level matches against fellow lefties and 11 of his last 15 at all levels and today he faces Cam Norrie in a first career meeting.

Both players lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina last week in Rome and both have played well in Lyon before, however Norrie has lost seven of his last nine matches (and 10 of his last 13) against fellow lefties.

A couple of those were against Nadal, but Dominik Koepfer, Thiago Monteiro, Adrian Mannarino, Giulio Zeppieri are also on the list and consequently I’m not keen on Norrie as favourite in this match-up.

You’d think Moutet would be motivated playing at home, too, and if the unpredictable Frenchman is in the mood he’s got more than a 50/50 chance of winning this one.

Moving on to Geneva now and we have Marton Fucsovics in action on Monday (assuming we get some play there) and I’m hopeful that he can cause a minor upset by beating Cristian Garin.

The likely damp conditions might make for an interesting scoreline or two and I am tempted by the flat hitting of Tennys Sandgren against the badly out form Salvatore Caruso.

We’ve seen damp clay’s lower bounce cause problems for clay courters in the past and Sandgren could possibly take advantage of a Caruso who’s lost eight of his last 11 matches.

His only wins in that 11-match sequence came against Bernard Tomic (ranked 218), Martin Klizan (162) and Lucas Catarina (388) in Monte-Carlo and his lack of confidence is there for all to see at the moment.

Sandgren might not fancy it on the clay, as he tends not to for the most part, but he did make the quarter finals here in 2018 (losing in two tie breaks to Fabio Fognini) and the American is a possible underdog option.

I’d probably want a bigger price than 2.40 though, given that Sandgren is 4-13 win/loss on clay when priced up as underdog (in completed matches): three of those wins came in Houston on US clay, while the other was an 11-9 final set win over Hubert Hurkacz at the French Open last year.

So, I’ll just risk two small stakes plays on Monday, with Simon and Moutet the picks.

Best Bets

0.5 points win Simon to beat Bedene at 2.25 (Unibet)

0.5 points win Moutet to beat Norrie at 2.10 (generally)