Round two of the Swiss Open Gstaad and the Croatia Open Gstaad is the order of the day on the clay on the ATP Tour on Thursday in week 29 and Sean Calvert is back to assess the value bets on day three.
It was one odds-against winner from our three wagers on Tuesday in Umag and Gstaad, with Alessandro Giannessi providing the success, while Thiago Seyboth Wild had the power, but couldn’t control it for long enough, against Laslo Djere.
And then Arthur Rinderknech did use the conditions as well as I expected against Dominic Stephan Stricker, but the latter wasn’t able to force a tie break in a tournament that has, so far, produced far fewer breakers than usual.
Only 27% of the matches in Gstaad thus far have produced tie breaks in a tournament that averages the same frequency of tie break matches as Rosmalen on the grass (42%) and ranks number two in terms of tie break matches of all clay tournaments on the calendar.
Round two in Gstaad has produced only 30% underdog winners in the last seven editions and you’d be £71 down if you’d backed all of the underdogs in round two of Gstaad in the last five editions (£10 stake).
In Umag, you’d be £137 in profit if you’d backed all of the underdogs in the last five editions, with the last four years straight showing a profit, and an average of 38% of the Umag round two dogs have won in the last five editions.
Swiss Open Gstaad
Our top seed, Denis Shapovalov, makes his Gstaad debut on Thursday and he’s long odds-on to beat Czech player Vit Kopriva, who lost in straight sets to Lukas Rosol last week in Amersfoort and was bageled by Henri Laaksonen the week before in Braunschweig.
Kopriva did make the semis in Braunschweig though, beating Benoit Paire and the fast-improving Zizou Bergs, who played well against Lalso Djere here in Gstaad on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old has only played one main level match so far in his career and that was here a couple of days ago when he beat wild card Johan Nikles and an upset seems unlikely here.
Shapo hasn’t played since losing in the Wimbledon semis to Novak Djokovic, so he’s had no match time on clay since Geneva at a slightly lower altitude back in May.
It may take Shapo a while to get his range, but he should be winning this one.
If Shapo does win, he’ll face the winner of Mikael Ymer and Feli Lopez and having beaten Lopez fairly handily on grass twice in the last month or so Shapo wouldn’t be too worried about facing the Spanish veteran on clay.
Lopez has gone well here in Gstaad over the years, but if he’s not making any inroads on grass these days it’s a fair assumption that the bite has gone from his game now at the age of 39.
He edged past Marc-Andrea Huesler in round one when the latter retired a game ahead of what would have been a final set tie break and it was actually Huesler that won a higher percentage of points on first serve and hit more aces than Lopez in that match.
So, Ymer is favourite and that looks about right, but he didn’t return serve too well against qualifier Enzo Couacaud in round one and I couldn’t back him at odds-on against Lopez at altitude.
Casper Ruud won the title in Geneva a couple of months back at slight altitude and made the semis in Madrid, also at slight altitude, so unless he’s tired from winning Bastad last week it’s hard to fancy an upset coming from Dennis Novak.
Ruud only played six sets in Bastad and none of those went past 10 games, so it’s unlikely he’ll be fatigued after that and Novak’s record in Gstaad and Kitzbuhel isn’t overly inspiring either.
So, we’re in a situation in Gstaad where perhaps Benoit Paire might be the most likely of the underdogs to win on Thursday and that’s rarely a comfortable situation to be in.
Paire may well simply have the legs on Tallon Griekspoor, who has now played four three-set matches on clay in the last week, and his last one on Tuesday in Gstaad went all the way to a final set breaker.
Paire has looked a bit more committed (yes, that’s not saying much) lately with crowds back at tournaments, but his record at altitude is limited and I’m not sure I trust that forehand in these conditions.
Croatia Open Umag
Our 33-1 long shot Andrej Martin is in action again on Thursday after just about scraping past lucky loser Renzo Olivo on Tuesday and he’s got a tough one against up and coming young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.
The layers have had Alcaraz priced up prohibitively short for some time now and despite the fact that he’s only 18 and has just one main level semi final to his name so far, he was made tournament favourite this week in Umag.
And he’s as short as 1.16 or so to beat Martin in this first career meeting, which is roughly the same price as he was to beat Lucas Pouille in his round one match.
Alcaraz had to come from a set down to win that one and perhaps the experience and motivation of Martin (he’s 10-5 win/loss in Umag and clearly loves playing here) can come to the fore again.
It’s easy to forget that Martin beat Nikoloz Basilashvili and then took a set off Novak Djokovic in Belgrade only two months ago and so there’s no reason why he can’t do a job against Alcaraz.
I’m already involved on the outright, but if you’re not Alcaraz looks too short here and either the Martin win or the +1.5 sets look fair value in this one.
Talking of outrights, I’m also on Dusan Lajovic, who’s in action on Thursday, too and he faces Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who I said the other day had a good chance of outlasting Pablo Cuevas in round one.
That’s exactly what happened, although Zapata Miralles should have won it much sooner than he did in the third set and this is likely to be a decent test for Lajovic.
Lajovic has had a difficult season, but looked much better in Hamburg last week, and hopefully he’ll be able to do to the Spaniard what Cuevas did to him in the opening set, which was work him around with smart angles and finish off rallies with that bit of extra quality.
The Serb will need to play well though and I don’t expect this to be easy for Lajovic by any means.
The one I like for a bet today though is Gianluca Mager, who played some good stuff and showed decent resilience to come back from a bagel opening set to beat Pedro Martinez the previous round.
Italians often go well here in Umag, with four finalists in the last seven editions and two titlists in the last four, and Mager could be the latest Italian to enjoy his visit to the Istrian peninsula.
In these hot and humid conditions, fitness often plays a part in proceedings and Altmaier has played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks, winning what was a pretty weak Braunschweig Challenger, then playing Hamburg three days later, and now coming through qualies here.
And Altamier did it the tough way in those qualie matches, having to come from a set down against both Flavio Cobolli (number 328) and Matija Pekotic (number 343) before also having to come from a set down in the main draw against Corentin Moutet.
I said in my preview of the Moutet match that the heat would probably send Moutet into a meltdown and that’s pretty much what happened, with Moutet retiring with what looked like cramp in set three.
He later said: “I’ve never retired from a match in the past. Today my health was in danger, so I had to take this decision. I gave it all, but my body said stop.”
And it’ll be 28C in the shade with 50% humidity on Thursday, which for me favours the man who’s likely to be fresher and that’s Mager, who’s played only six sets since Wimbledon.
Mager also made the final of Rio – as a qualifier – in similarly hot and humid conditions, so he knows a thing or two about playing in this heat.
Altmaier – other than a great run at the French Open of 2020 – has shown little yet in this company, losing his last eight completed matches at main level and Mager (who also beat Altmaier both times they met years ago in Futures) has a good chance of progressing here.
Both guys can serve it big and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one went long, but that would also favour the fresher player for me.
Finally, there’s a repeat of a match I watched courtside a few years ago in Budapest: Filip Krajinovic vs Radu Albot.
Krajinovic won that day in two quite well contested sets and went on to lose to Albot in much quicker conditions in Tokyo five months or so later in that 2019 season.
We backed Albot last week against Holger Rune and he lost from a set and a break up as a 3.25 chance and this week beat the same opponent from a set down, so not only was that annoying, but it shows that you can’t take Albot lightly.
Krajinovic is coming off another disappointing defeat in a final (in Hamburg last week) and odds of 1.17 are a tad short.
I’ve never been a fan of Krajinovic in hot and humid conditions, with his record of illness and injury and he’s only won one of his three matches in Umag in his career so far.
If I were getting involved in this one I’d look to side with Albot in some way: maybe on the games or sets handicap.
1 point win Mager to beat Altmaier at 1.91 (generally)