The players of the ATP Tour head to Newport, Bastad and Hamburg this week to conclude the grass season and play for a few weeks on the clay ahead of the North American hard court swing. Sean Calvert is back to assess the best value bets in round one this week.
The disjointed calendar has the players heading to the USA to play for one more week on grass and to Europe for a couple of weeks on clay before most will head off to North America for the hard court swing or to the Olympics in Japan.
This week has often proved a very good one for underdog backers, with 40% of them winning in Bastad, 38% in Hamburg and 34% in Newport in the last seven years, with many favourites lacking either motivation or surface preparation after Wimbledon.
If you’re backing tie breaks in Bastad you probably won’t get very far, with only 21% of its matches in the last seven editions featuring a breaker on the slow clay in Sweden.
But underdog winners are plentiful here at an event where service holds are low (74% in the last five editions).
The stats are very similar in Hamburg, where only a very hot tournament week in 2019 has prevented the tie break matches mark being at around the 23% mark. That 2019 tournament has pushed the average up to 30% and service holds here are exactly the same as Bastad at 74%.
Newport doesn’t feature a huge amount of tie break matches either (for a grass event) with 41% of its matches having at least one in the last seven years and service holds are running at 81% in the last five years.
Given that Bastad produces so many underdog winners it hasn’t been very profitable if you’d backed them all in the last five years (just £35 profit to a £10 stake) and round one has been poor for dog winners, with the quarters, semis and final all having a much higher percentage of dog winners than rounds one and two.
Indeed, Hamburg has a very similar profile, with between 48% and 63% underdog winners in the quarters, semis and final, compared with 35% in rounds one and two.
That’s a very unusual trend indeed and we’ll see if that continues this year in Bastad and Hamburg.
Looking at the round one matches in Bastad, then, and one that starts too early but looks interesting is Pablo Cuevas at 1.42 to beat Norbert Gombos.
Cuevas was bageled by Juan Ignacio Londero in Salzburg last week (he then beat the same opponent 2 and 2 in Bundesliga at the weekend) and doesn’t look to have a great deal left at the age of 35.
Gombos has played well on clay this season and is unlikely to be an easy out for Cuevas.
I’ve had a bit of an interest on Lorenzo Musetti this week, but if round one opponent Henri Laaksonen isn’t too tired after a tough qualifying run, during which he was on court for almost five-and-a-half hours he could be a good test for Musetti.
The Swiss has a good record here (16-7) in the main draw and qualies and he made a final last week at Challenger level, but that’s a lot of tennis in his legs in the past week or so.
Facundo Bagnis could also be fatigued after his run to the Salzburg Challenger title last week and may be vulnerable against the durable Roberto Carballes Baena, while despite Federico Coria’s run to the Salzburg final he could find Francisco Cerundolo too powerful, as he has in the past.
But perhaps the most interesting one in Bastad on Tuesday is Radu Albot against Holger Rune, who keeps getting wild cards to main level events, but hasn’t done much with any of them yet.
Rune is 2-5 at main level and one of his wins was against a tanking Benoit Paire, so I’m not seeing a whole lot in him at the moment that should make him so short to beat Radu Albot, who should fancy his chances here.
Clay is far from Albot’s preferred surface, but you could also say that about Soonwoo Kwon, who beat Rune in Marbella on the dirt as a 3.79 chance.
The Moldovan’s form is a concern and one reason why he’s a biggish underdog here, but I don’t mind chancing him for small stakes at this price.
In Hamburg, I’d probably want a bigger price about Lucas Pouille even given the poor form lately of Dusan Lajovic.
I’m already on Laslo Djere, who’s underdog against Jan-Lennard Struff, but Filip Krajinovic is really tempting as slight underdog against Daniel Altmaier.
This price comes from the Challenger title that Altmaier won in Braunschweig last week and the lack of results that Krajinovic has achieved this season, but the Serb is the classier operator by some distance at main level.
After splitting with coach Janko Tipsarevic at the end of last season it’s been a rough spell for Krajinovic who’s withdrawn from a few tournaments with illness in 2021 and he’s never been the most robust of characters physically or mentally.
He’s never got on with the grass, so we can overlook his grass swing, and back on the clay he’s worth chancing against Altmaier who’s lost his last seven main level matches and is just 5-11 win/loss at this level.
Moving on to Newport on the grass and wouldn’t it be great to see one last hurrah from Ivo Karlovic this week?
His round one opponent Bernabe Zapata Miralles is yet to face any of the big servers on the tour, but he played well on the grass at Wimbledon, so he’s been made favourite to beat Dr Ivo, who lost in qualies there to Roman Safiullin.
Conditions in Newport are very different to the All England Club though and given that the Spaniard has never faced this sort of opponent before and that Karlovic has played nine tie breaks in his last 11 sets in Newport there’s a fair chance of a breaker here.
Karlovic is 42 now and long past his best, but 4.33 about Zapata Miralles winning set one on a breaker looks reasonable (Boylesports).
Tennys Sandgren has the game to be decent on grass (won 9 of his last 14 on it) and he should be too much for Joao Sousa, but form is a worry with Sandgren, who’s won only five matches since last year’s French Open.
Jack Sock has lost his last four on grass and he prefers a much higher-bouncing surface than here and who knows what sort of motivation he has these days after slumping from world number eight to where he is now at 231 in the rankings.
He did win a Challenger in Little Rock just over a month ago, but then lost in round one the week after in Orlando and his last win at a main level ATP event came in Delray Beach in 2020 – almost a year and a half ago.
He has three main level wins since the end of 2018 and Alex Bolt should be defeating Sock on grass at the moment.
In total contrast to Sock’s apparent disinterest we have Paulo Lorenzi playing right after Sock, with the Italian still loving the battle at the age of 39.
At 6’6” you’d expect Maxime Cressy to be a handful on grass and he beat Thanasi Kokkinakis at Wimbledon qualies, but he also lost to Jay Clarke in Nottingham and he’s only broken serve 10% of the time in his seven main level matches so far.
Lorenzi has also broken serve just 10% of the time on grass in his career, so maybe a set one tie break here at 3.0 or Cressy to win set one 7-6 at 5.0 are fair options.
I watched Yasutaka Uchiyama beat Jason Murray Kubler at Wimbledon qualies a couple of years ago and he’s solid enough on the surface and capable of beating Sebastian Ofner, who’ll need to serve well to justify a price that looks a touch short.
He’s the right favourite on recent grass form, but I couldn’t back Ofner at that price.
Then it’s a couple of my big-priced outrights in action: Peter Gojowczyk and Brayden Schnur and hopefully that pair can justify favouritism in their matches against Mitchell Krueger and Jason Jung respectively.
0.5 points win Albot to beat Rune at 3.20
1 point win Krajinovic to beat Altmaier at 2.0