Close but no cigar for my outright tournament selections last week as Bedene (advised 22/1) at Budapest was unfortunate on two fronts; firstly his semi-final match against Australian Millman was suspended on Saturday evening and secondly on Sunday when they resumed he had three match points in the third set at 5-6 on Millman’s serve (15-40 and at Advantage when at deuce). However, he opted to play things safe and hope Millman would make an error and hand him the match when he could have thrown caution to the win and gone on the attack on, at least, one of the match points. Anyway, this is how things go in tennis and sport at times and you can’t win them all. If you had followed my midweek advice to consider hedging and covering your outright stakes and the match bets I advised during the week you would have ended up breaking even or making a small profit, depending on the price you obtained.
At Barcelona, Nadal continued to steam roller all opposition before him, not dropping a set on route to the final, the same as Monte Carlo, and it was great to see another potential NextGen star of the future Tsitsipas from Greece reach his first ATP Tour final, which his form had been hinting at this season. The youngest finalist in Barcelona since an 18-year-old Nadal in 2005, Tsitsipas was also the first Greek man to reach an ATP World Tour title match since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines, Iowa in 1973 and the run moves him up to a career-high No. 44 in the ATP Tour rankings and puts him well in the hunt for the ATP NextGen finals in Milan, Italy this November.
However, he was unable to pose Nadal any real in the final and the greatest clay court payer of all time proceeded to win an unprecedented eleventh Barcelona title 6-2 6-1 and he added more accolades in the process extended his winning streak on clay to nineteen and even more astoundingly he’s now won 46 matches without dropping one single set! He’s now two to one on to win a record eleventh French Open title, and barring injury he is of course more than capable of achieving this feat again!
On to this week’s ATP action and there are three European clay court events at Munich, Germany, Estoril, Portugal and Istanbul Turkey. Defending champions Sasha Zverev lines up for a shot at winning back-to-back ATP Tour titles for the first-time, but overall the quality of the field is quite weak with only one top-10 player taking part. Munich has been dominated by European players over the last decade with only one none-European player winning the title during this period (Gonzales 2008) and a Spanish player has not won the title for 21 years. German players also have a strong record reaching six of the last ten finals during this period (won four Kohlschreiber 2007, 2012 and 2016 and Haas 2013).
The top two seeds don’t have a great record at Munich over the last decade and the top-seed has only won one title during this period (Murray 2015) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last 2014), which does not bode well for defending champion Sasha Zverev’s chances this week. The second seed has won two of the last ten titles (last 2010) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which does not bode well for 2015 and 2017 semi-finalist Bautista-Agut’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general have a good record at Munich over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than seven won nine of the last ten titles (last Zverev seeded three 2017) and a player seeded no higher than five was a losing finalist seven times during this period (last Thiem seeded 3 2016). Unseeded players don’t have a great record at Munich over the last decade, only winning two of the last ten titles Last Qualifier 2014) and they were a losing finalist n35 during this period (last Qualifier Pella).
From an outright betting perspective at Munich the past statistics suggest siding with a player seeded no higher than seven as they’ve won nine of the last ten titles and were a losing finalist seven times during this period. Also siding with a northern European player, preferably German, as they’ve reached six of the last ten finals, winning four and past statistics suggest opposing Spanish players as they last won the title twenty-one years ago. From the top-half of the draw past statistics suggest opposing defending champion, top-seed and favourite Sasha Zverev given the record of the top-seed over the last decade, plus he’s not looked at his best since transitioning to clay compared to this time last year.
Fourth seed and 2017 Munich semi-finalist Chung returns to the ATP Tour for the first time since Miami and plays his first clay court tournament this season after mossing Monte Carlo and the tournaments last week, due to injury. He proved last season that he is well at home on clay reaching the quarter finals at Barcelona from qualifying (lost to Nadal), semi-finals at Munich (lost to Zverev) and third round at the French Open (lost to Nishikori in five sets.
He fits the profile of a potential finalist/winner however, with no competitive match play like last year he makes little appeal from a betting perspective as I think it might take him a good few competitive matches before he starts hitting top form again. The Same applies to seventh seed Monfils, who has not played since Indian Wells due to injury, and with no competitive match play on clay so far this season its hard to back him with any confidence until he’s got more clay matches under his belt. One player who stands out from the top-half of the draw as a potential finalist/winner is qualifier Klizan (price tbc asks Bookmaker to price up).
Quaifier Klizan has been in great form on clay recently winning eleven of his last fourteen matches and he really impressed at Barcelona last week reaching the quarter-finals, eventually losing to Nadal. He was impressive winning both his qualifying matches this weekend and with four unseeded players reaching the final, including a qualifier winning in 2014 and reaching the final last year, it would not be a surprise if Klizan springs a surprise, if the high number of matches played recently don’t catch up with him physically.
From the bottom half of the Munich draw second seed and two-time semi-finalist (2015 and 2017) Buatista Agut does not appeal from a betting perspective given his recent clay form and record of the second seed over the last decade. Sixth seed and veteran German Kohlschreiber (13/1) is a three-time Munich winner (2016, 2012 and 2007) stands out as a potential winner given his record a Munich having won 29 of his 39 matches, and he’s shown good enough form so far this season to suggest he’s in good enough shape to win a fourth Munich title.
Moving on to Estoril, Portugal and second seed and defending champion Carreno-Busta lines up for a shot at winning a second Estoril title. The top-seed has a quite a good record at Estoril winning three of the last ten titles (last Carreno-Busta 2017) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period in this period (last 2014), which bodes well for Andersons chances this week, especially as he’s only reached one ATP cay court final back in 2013. The second seed has not performed as well over the last decade winning one of the last ten titles (last 2013) and they were a losing finalist three times during this period (last 2012), which diminishes Carreno-Busta’s chances of defending his title this week.
Seeded players in general do have a good record at Estoril over the last decade. A player seeded no higher than eight won eight of the last ten titles (last Carreno-Busta 2017) and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist nine times during this period (last Muller 2017). Unseeded players don’t have a great record at Estoril over the last decade winning two of the last ten titles (last Almagro 2016) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist once during this period (2010).
Edmunds (10/1), who also resides in the top-half of the draw, is surely coming close to winning a first ATP title. He showed good enough form at Marrakech recently reaching the final in impressive fashion, and if he’s fit he must have has a decent chance of reaching the final/winning, as he’s got winning form against winning form against players in the top-half of the draw, including top-seed Anderson. From the bottom half of the draw second seed and defending champion Carreno-Busta is worth opposing this week given the record of the second seed over the last decade, even though he’s been in good form over the last couple of months, as I think the amount of tennis he’s played could catch up with him if he faces an in form talented opponent.
Two players who I think can take advantage if Carreno-Busta falters this week are the experienced veteran, seventh seed Leonardo May (17/1) as he’s been in solid form this year and is more than capable of reaching the final or winning having won both of his ATP titles on clay in Europe at Hamburg (2014 and 2017). Fourth seed Muller (20/1) also fits the profile of a potential finalist/winner as he reached the final here last year, which means the conditions suit his game, and while he’s not renowned as a clay court specialist he clearly has the ability and experience to challenge for the title having won challenger titles on the surface. He looked in good form at Monte Carlo pushing Sasha Zverev to three sets last week and more importantly has winning form against most players in his half of the draw.
Istanbul is a relatively new tournament, and this is its fourth renewal. Defending champion and top-seed Cilic lines up for a shot at winning a second title at the Koza Sport facility, but 2017 finalist Raonic does not return this year due to injury. The top-seed has won one of the last three titles back in 2015 (Federer) and they were also a losing finalist once during this period (Raonic 2017). Cilic won the title as the second seed last year and they were also a losing finalist once during this period (Dimitrov 2016). A seeded player no higher than three featured in all three finals and there was only one unseeded winner, which was Schwartzman
From an outright betting perspective at Istanbul (oddschecker not priced up yet, quoted prices from Skybet) third seed Seppi must be in the reckoning have played so well this year, especially on clay recently reaching the fourth round at Monte Carlo from qualifying and semi-finals at Budapest last week. However, he is 35 this year and while his stamina didn’t seem to a problem over the last few weeks on clay I’m concerned it could catch up with this week and he also doesn’t appeal at the prices (less than 10/1). Spanish Qualifier and veteran Gimeno-Traver has been in great for on clay this season winning nineteen of his twenty-two matches, including one title, and he qualified for Istanbul this week in straight forward fashion and should have an advantage over some of the players in his section of the top half of the draw.
From the bottom half of the draw veteran Chardy (12/1) and the young but experienced Berretini (40/1) stand out as potential finalists/winners. Chardy is vastly experienced at this level and with a draw lacking real quality and strength in depth he should be motivated to challenge for the title. Berrettini showed his ability at Budapest last week where he reached the fourth round from qualifying, losing an agonisingly close match against Bedene 7-6 4-6- 6-4. He’s also won two Challenger events so far in 2108, which is no easy task, and he reached a semi-final at another this year which suggests 2018 is going to be his breakthrough year and that will occur this week by reaching the Istanbul final at least.
From a first round match betting perspective at Munich, Estoril and Istanbul there are a few matches I have studied which will hopefully pay dividends at return a profit. At Munich I don’t think Pella is playing well enough in Europe to beat the NextGen Fuscovics (2.6). At Estoril Spaniard Carballes Baena faces American Fratangelo (2.16) today for the third time, which were both on clay and Fratangello won the most recent encounter last year and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat that result today. Finally, Delbonis (2.1) leads the head-to-head against fifth seed Ramos Vinolas who has been out of form so far this year and this isn’t an ideal opener for him as Delbonis is a real tough nut to crack on clay if he is close to full fitness.