There are four new tournaments on the schedule for this week as the clay season continues apace on the ATP and WTA Tours. With a further four Challenger events traders can virtually enjoy 24 hour action this week...
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Action gets underway in around half an hour at 10am UK time, and with there being a 64 man draw at the ATP Barcelona 500 event, there are more matches on the schedule than typical for a Monday.
Conditions in Spain are likely to be on the slow side this week, with there being 2.8% less service holds over the last three years in Barcelona than the ATP clay mean. This definitely will give us some options this week for opposing leading players, with a break of serve slightly more commonplace than an average clay event.
In fact, of the 18 players on show in Barcelona, 11 have a low projected hold today according to my spreadsheet for the event, and a number of players look to have the potential to be particularly vulnerable as a front-runner today.
Facundo Bagnis has improved to a reasonable extent lately and is deserved favourite at a little below 1.50 in the first match on the schedule against Evgeny Donskoy, and the Russian hasn't impressed on clay in the last couple of years, although he has a reasonable enough record for a hard courter if you delve further back in time. I've now got lead loss/recovery stats on Bagnis and his 38.5% first break deficit recovery since July 2014 is above average, with Donskoy's 53.3% lead loss much worse than average. Taking on Donskoy when leading by a break or serving for sets/matches looks a good entry point here.
This is also the case for the clay-hating Malek Jaziri, against Hyeon Chung (1.42). Chung's matches at ATP level have had a very swingy nature with plenty of lead losses and deficit recoveries whilst Jaziri has only played eight main tour clay matches, holding a mere 65.0%. Jaziri has only made one Challenger final (Samarkand, 2011) which considering his success on the Challenger Tour shows his lack of clay success (he's held less than 68% in Challengers on clay in his career).
Franko Skugor is a slight underdog against Inigo Cervantes in a match with very low projected hold percentages, and with Skugor in particular a very return orientated player, I like Cervantes - a slight favourite at 1.65 - to fight back from losing positions. He gave Benoit Paire a strong test last week and from a small sample, his deficit recovery (he was added to the sheets last week) is decent. Despite this, it shows how badly some players manage their careers that Cervantes is now into the top 60...
Last up in Barcelona, Alexander Zverev (1.42) takes on Jan-Lennard Struff in an all-German clash, and this price looks about right. The talented youngster should have too much for Struff, who has lost his last 13 completed main draw ATP matches on clay (one win via retirement). Zverev's matches - like fellow youngster Chung - have a very swingy dynamic and he's superb at recovering deficits, as well as being untypically very fit in deciding sets, borne out by his superb final set data.
Laying Struff when leading appeals.
Over in the lower calibre 250 in Bucharest, the field quality is weak. Lukas Rosol - with a strong venue record - will fancy his chances at 1.90 against Kyle Edmund with my model making this value. I'll be looking to oppose the young Brit in-play - as usual with British players they are loved by the market.
The final match of the four today in Romania looks interesting, with Michael Linzer and Taro Daniel very weak servers. The Japanese, Daniel, is much more adept on clay than many of his compatriots, having spent time in Spain as a teenager. He's deserved favourite at around 1.30 and he is another one whose matches have been very swingy on the main tour.
I also like Damir Dzumhur, who has really kicked on in the last month, against serial wild card receiver Marius Copil, but it's worth noting that Copil is a player who when 'on', is on. He has a high potential level but a very mediocre average one.
There are just three matches in the WTA Tour with the Stuttgart Premier having its traditional one match on the first day as players fly back from the Fed Cup. As always with tournaments following the Fed Cup, it's worth making a note of who has to fly long distances and then get straight back into action. I can't see the serve orientated match between Anna-Lena Friedsam and Johanna Konta giving me many entry points, nor the match in Istanbul - a new tournament - between Kurumi Nara and Danka Kovinic. Nara is woeful on clay with it being Kovinic's best surface, so Kovinic's favourite status is utterly justified. I have no clue who the extremely random wild card, the >500 ranked Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, is, although she's received market support this morning against Nao Hibino. I'll leave that match well alone.
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