There’s just one week to go now until the start of the French Open and those in need of more match practice ahead of Roland Garros head to Parma, Italy and Belgrade, Serbia in week 21 of the ATP Tour.
This week’s two ATP 250 tournaments are the Emilia-Romagna Open and the Belgrade Open and Sean Calvert returns for the final time before the French Open to preview both tournaments from an outright betting perspective.
We found what little value there was in Geneva and Lyon last week, with 33-1 shots Marton Fucsovics and Ilya Ivashkaboth nicely priced, but unfortunately neither man was able to deliver.
Fucsovics was particularly disappointing when handed a draw of Laaksonen, Stricker and Andujar to make the semis,instead of the Garin, Cilic, Federer that it might have been, but French Open Boys champion Stricker put the Hungarian out in the second round.
Ivashka was a 1.33 shot for his opener and then 1.84 to beat Grigor Dimitrov, with Pablo Cuevas and Denis Shapovalov to follow, so 33-1 was a fine price about him, but he caught Dimitrov on a rare go day (Dimi wasn’t on a go day in his next match of course).
Our 16-1 double is still going at the time of writing, with Casper Ruud already the winner of Geneva and that bet just needs Stefanos Tsitsipas to finish it off as a 1.20 chance against Cam Norrie in Lyon.
I’ve already advised a hedging bet of one point on Norrie at 5.60 on Twitter in case anything goes awry in that final – which it often does. Incidentally, Norrie is 1000-1 with Unibet to win the French. If he beats Tsitsipas he won’t be 1000-1.
Conditions and trends
The weather forecast was pretty accurate last week, with constant delays and interruptions due to rain in both Geneva and Lyon and they’re predicting more rainfall this week in Parma.
Monday looks a washout (at the time of writing) and Tuesday to Thursday don’t look great either, but it’s just showers on those midweek days, so perhaps play will continue with any luck.
It’ll probably be on the slow side in Parma then, but the weather looks set to be better in Belgrade, with little rain expected until Thursday afternoon there,
The tour stopped off at Novak Djokovic’s club in Belgrade only a month ago and now it gets another chance to host a main level tournament thanks to the French Open being put back a week.
They played several matches under the lights in Belgrade 1 and it was pretty heavy conditions, with the final being contested by big-hitting pair Aslan Karatsev and Matteo Berrettini.
Parma is new on the tour and they’ll play at the President Tennis Club of Montechiarugolo, just south of the city of Parma in the north of Italy, where they held a WTA event last week (as they also did in Belgrade) and there will be fans in this week (at both venues).
Lorenzo Sonego’s performance in Rome, where he made the semi finals, makes the now-world number 28 the top seed for an ATP Tour event for the first time and on home soil, too.
Sonego’s from Turin, which is about 2-3 hours away from Parma and after his run in Rome and victory in Cagliari last month he’ll no doubt be keen to impress the Italian fans once more.
He lines up in the top half of the draw with Jan-Lennard Struff, Yoshihito Nishioka and Tommy Paul as his fellow seeds, with the likes of Seb Korda, Lorenzo Musetti and Jiri Vesely other notable players in this half.
Vesely would be interesting in this sort of tournament, but he contracted Covid in March and has only won one match (at Challenger level) since and he didn’t look too good when he retired at the Oeiras Challenger last week (cited a shoulder injury as the official reason).
So, perhaps it’s time to put some faith in Struff now that the German has finally overcome his inability to make it past a semi final at main level.
Struff made the final on home clay in Munich last month and perhaps that’s given him a taste for titles.
At 14-1 (Bet 365) I don’t mind taking a bit of a chance on himagainst Sonego at the prices.
His quarter (Q2) looks pretty weak, with Tommy Paul appearing to be the one most likely to challenge Struff for a semi final spot.
Stefano Travaglia has just split with his coach of the last three years (Simone Vagnozzi) and looks totally out of sorts right now (and retired last week in Geneva).
Musetti is the other one that appeals on form in the top half, but after a tough run in Lyon last week I wonder how much the young Italian has left to give the week ahead of the French Open?
Musetti’s in Q1 along with Sonego, wild card Andreas Seppi, Gianluca Mager, Nishioka and Sam Querrey and I think 10-1 is a little short on Musetti.
The bottom half of the draw looks quite open as well, with Benoit Paire, Aljaz Bedene, Albert Ramos and Richard Gasquet the seeds, plus the likes of Jaume Munar, Marco Cecchinato and Frances Tiafoe.
Paire is interesting if he shows the sort of level he displayed in an unlucky loss to Dominik Koepfer last week and he has form the week before majors, too, with each of his last three main level finals coming the week ahead of a Slam.
It’s obviously a huge risk trusting Paire given the way he’s tanked most of this season away, but a price like 28-1 and with crowds in attendance this week I don’t mind a minimum stakes punt on him.
It won’t be for everyone, but neither was the 500-1 about Basilashvili in Doha.
Ramos is the obvious pick in this half based on his clay pedigree, but I wonder what sort of effort he’ll be putting in this week given that he’s never made a main level final the week prior to a major.
Indeed, many of Ramos’ finals have come soon after majors in February and July rather than just before and I don’t want to take a chance on him as short as around 6-1 this week.
Bedene showed quite some improvement last week in Lyon compared to all we’d seen from him this clay swing prior to that, but he’s so hard to win with (no titles and just four finals in his main level career) that I’m not seeing much value in him.
Gasquet showed much better form last week in Lyon than we’ve seen from him for a while, but at 35 next month I’m not sure I trust that he’s got enough in the fitness department to win titles anymore and especially the week before his home major.
The same can be said about Gilles Simon, so maybe there’s an opportunity for Tiafoe, Cecchinato or Munar in this half, with Salvatore Caruso looking miles away from his best form at the moment.
Tiafoe started the clay swing well, but has dropped away lately and he was unlucky again last time out when he turned his ankle in Rome and had to retire against Delbonis.
He’ll face Cecchinato in a repeat of their recent Madrid encounter, which the Italian won in straight sets, and perhaps it’s time to take another chance on Cecchinato, who’s played well in Italy in the past and is showing some better form of late.
His price of 14-1 is too short though and not for me and neither is 18-1 about Munar, who could go very well, but I’m not backing him at that price.
We still only have (at the time of writing) prices for this week’s outrights from about five layers, so there might some value to come from the likes of Unibet, Betfred or Bet Victor, so those will be tweeted if I see anything.
We have a simple choice to make in Belgrade this week and that’s whether or not to take Novak Djokovic on at his home club with only seven days or so to go until the French Open starts.
I don’t recall Djokovic being too active ahead of majors in the past, so you would think that he’s unlikely to put 100 percent in here – even if it is his club and his home town.
Last time we were here a month ago he was beaten by Aslan Karatsev and blamed it largely on illness, saying “I don’t feel so great…” but you’ve got to wonder who has the sort of power to potentially ‘do a Karatsev’ on Djokovic this week.
The only answer that I can find to that question is Nikoloz Basilashvili, with the rest of the top half of the draw surely lacking the quality and power to beat even a Djokovic that quite possibly isn’t here to win the title.
The problem for Basilashvili would have been that he’d likely play Laslo Djere in his opening match and Djere has been able to handle Basil’s power very well most times when they’ve played on clay lately.
Djere pulled out though and now Basil will face a qualifier, but after enjoying success with Basil at 500-1 and 60-1 I’m not feeling inclined to push my luck at 18-1 with Djokovic in the half.
The bottom half of the draw looks much more open, with number two seed Gael Monfils still in the early stages of his return to the tour and some way down on the form of old at the moment.
Filip Krajinovic looks to have a great draw, with Adrian Mannarino weak on clay, Fernando Verdasco looking ready for retirement and Lucas Pouille still some way short of his best form.
Perhaps Soonwoo Kwon could be the dark horse in this quarter of the draw (Q3) with the Korean having enjoyed decent results on the clay this swing.
But it’s Q4 where there could be a bit of interest, with Federico Delbonis, Thiago Monteiro and Arthur Rinderknechall more than capable of taking down Monfils and making the final.
However, I always feel that when the layers go 1/3 the odds on the each way due to a short-priced favourite the value has gone unless there’s a really tempting one and maybe Rinderknech at 50s is possible.
He’ll surely be tired though after almost making the final as a qualifier in the damp in Lyon and now he’s got to do it all again (main draw only this time) the week before his home major.
Even though I suspect that Novak Djokovic will be treating Belgrade as little more than an exhibition with it being so close to Roland Garros I’m struggling to fancy anyone much to oppose him with and the 1/3 the odds on the each-way puts me off further.
It looks a week to be a little frugal and given that the names on my shortlist are Struff and Paire I’ll just have a small play this week.
1 point win Struff to win Parma at 14-1 (Bet365)
0.5 points win Paire to win Parma at 28-1 (Bet365)