Preview and best bets for ATP Tour

Six of Andy Schooler’s last 10 outright previews have delivered a profit – here’s his look at this week’s ATP Tour events in Hamburg and Gstaad.

Tennis betting tips: ATP Tour

1pt e.w. Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the EFG Swiss Open at 16/1 (Unibet 1/2, 1,2)

0.5pt e.w. Roberto Carballes Baena in the EFG Swiss Open at 50/1 (Sky Bet, Coral, Ladbrokes 1/2 1,2)

0.5pt e.w. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Hamburg European Open at 33/1 (Unibet 1/2 1,2)

0.5pt e.w. Alex Molcan in the Hamburg European Open at 50/1 (Unibet 1/2 1,2)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Hamburg European Open

  • Hamburg, Germany (outdoor clay)

Carlos Alcaraz is the star of the show at this week’s biggest tournament – the 500-level Hamburg European Open – and he’s odds-on to win it.

It’s probably a situation we’re going to get used to as the highly-talented Spaniard looks to be heading towards the very top of the game.

However, he’s not there yet and in the same way as he was overpriced at times this year prior to his big breakthrough at the Miami Open, now he looks too short to me.

While Alcaraz did back up his Miami success by winning on the clay (his natural domain) of Barcelona and Madrid, it should be remembered that he produced two rather iffy performances at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

The former, an error-strewn display against Alex Zverev, was particularly disappointing and while expectations were clearly lower at Wimbledon, the fact is Alcaraz had played himself into the tournament and he went off a firm favourite against Jannik Sinner only to lose pretty convincingly.

This week will see his first match since that loss (and his first on clay since Roland Garros in late May) and while he has a good-looking opener against local wild card Nicola Kuhn, a second-round meeting with the man who made us a profit last week by reaching the final in Bastad, Sebastian Baez, has the potential to cause problems if Alcaraz is still searching for his best form.

I’m not saying he won’t win but I’ve no interest in backing Alcaraz at odds-on this week.

I am also happy to oppose Andrey Rublev, the other top-10 player in the field.

The Russian almost lost to our long shot, Federico Coria, in his opening match in Bastad where he was eventually outplayed by Baez in the last four.

He’s got a tough draw this week too with Newport finalist Alexander Bublik first up, followed by a likely meeting with the Bastad champion, Francisco Cerundolo.

Two-time champion Nikoloz Basilashvili could follow – and that’s all before the semi-final stage.

Basilashvili made my alternatives shortlist at 40/1.

He won here in 2018 and 2019 and has a strong record in Germany, having also won in Munich, meaning three of his five career titles have come in the country.

But two notable factors are enough to put me off.

First up, the Georgian was last seen pulling out of a match in Bastad with an elbow injury, and secondly, you wonder what his mental state is right now having last week been named by German broadcaster ZDF as being involved in a probe about alleged match-fixing.

Of course, the draw this week has pitted him against the other player named in that report, Aslan Karatsev, in the first round so there promises to added focus on him, not to mention some awkward media questions which seem unlikely to help the 40/1 shot’s case.

Both players have denied any wrongdoing.

In the bottom half of the draw, I prefer the chances of ALEJANDRO DAVIDOVICH FOKINA, who looks to have landed in a good section.

The seeds in the third quarter are Botic van de Zandschulp and Diego Schwartzman, both of whom look opposable.

Van de Zandschulp did make the final in Munich, where he beat Casper Ruud, in April but he’s done very little on clay since.

A meeting with Davidovich Fokina will be his first match since Wimbledon and doesn’t look an ideal one in which to make his return to action.

As for Schwartzman, he looked in all sorts of bother when being taken apart by Pablo Carreno Busta in Bastad only a few days ago, winning a solitary game.

Throw in a tournament record which does the word average a dis-service – he’s yet top go beyond the last eight and has a win-loss of just 4-4 – and the Argentine looks poor value at 14/1.

Instead Davidovich Fokina can come through this section at 33s.

As I said in last week’s preview, he’s a bit hit and miss but he showed what he’s capable of in a good week when reaching the final of Monte Carlo Masters where Novak Djokovic was among his victims.

This draw offers him a decent opportunity and, in my opinion, his price is too big and a small, each-way bet is the call.

Back in the top half I’m prepared to take a chance of a player who’s caught the eye in recent months and that’s ALEX MOLCAN.

The Slovak has already reached two claycourt finals this season and while both came at the lower 250 level, the quality of players beaten is significant.

He defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime en route to the final in Marrakech in April and the following month Karen Khachanov, Alex de Minaur and Coria were among his victims in Lyon before he lost in three sets to Cameron Norrie.

Shortly before his Lyon run, Molcan began working with former Djokovic coach Marian Vaida and the partnership is going well with the left-hander clearly excited about it.

He told the official ATP Tour website: “Both Marian and Karol (Beck, fellow coach) are great at communicating, making it easier for me to understand. I am asking him about stuff, but he is not trying to make me play like Novak, it is about being myself.

“I am trying to improve my mentality because tennis is not an easy sport. It is tough out there.

“I still feel I can hit my groundstrokes better and then I will be a better player. We are working hard and I feel it will be a good rest of the season.”

Defending champion Carreno Busta is probably the quality player Molcan will need to beat if he’s to deliver for his backers at 50/1 this week – the pair are on course to meet in round two – but with the Spaniard making a quick turnaround after his semi-final run in Bastad, that’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Indeed, Molcan’s data holds up well ahead of what would be a first career meeting.

He’s won 79% of his service games on clay at tour level this season and broken in 29%. PCB’s equivalents are 78% and 24%.

Clearly Alcaraz is the big threat in this half but I’m still going take some interest in that 50/1 quote, albeit that it’s only a third of the odds for a place in the final this week with most firms due to the short-priced favourite.

EFG Swiss Open Gstaad

  • Gstaad, Switzerland (outdoor clay)

The ATP Tour heads up this week – that’s up to an altitude above 1,000m and the picturesque setting of Gstaad in the Swiss Alps.

Apologies to long-term readers but I’m once again about to point out the specific nature of tennis being played at such heights.

The balls tend to fly through the thinner air so control becomes a key factor.

A big serve can make its mark but power players need that element of control or they’ll end up sending a lot of shots long. That can certainly be a problem for the flatter-hitters.

In such weeks, I always think it wise to look for players with a proven track record in such conditions and one man who ticks that box is ALBERT RAMOS-VINOLAS.

Yes, I’ve mentioned the Spaniard plenty of times this season, most notably when he landed this column a 14/1 winner in the altitude of Cordoba in February.

But he warrants another write-up here given he’s regularly produced his best tennis in high-altitude conditions.

He won this title three years ago, while he’s also finished runner-up in nearby Kitzbuhel in the past.

Look through his tour-level finals and seven of 11 have come at a significant height above sea level.

Ramos-Vinolas played well last week in Bastad in defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta, going down 7-5 in the final set to the eventual semi-finalist. That looks decent-enough prep and a Wednesday loss meant extra time to acclimatise in the Alps which has to be a good thing for the week ahead.

ARV is in the same half of the draw as top seed and defending champion Casper Ruud, who is the obvious danger on his path to the final.

Ruud is another player with proven form at altitude – as well as winning here 12 months ago he’s claimed titles in Geneva and Kitzbuhel in the past – but the Norwegian did lose his opening match in Bastad last week.

The head-to-head between the two men seeded to meet in the semis is also interesting – they’ve met four times on clay with Ramos-Vinolas winning three of those matches, including one at altitude in nearby Kitzbuhel.

Given that, I’m happy to take a chance on the proven altitude performer at 16/1.

The bottom half is led by Matteo Berrettini, a player is rated the joint 5/2 favourite with Ruud.

However, there are reasons for questioning the 2018 champion’s chances this week.

First of all, this will be his first match after Covid-19 ruined his Wimbledon hopes.

He may well be fine physically but even if he is, you wonder if the mental disappointment of missing a tournament he looked to have a great chance of winning will leave any scars.

Certainly you could suggest that getting himself fully motivated for a 250 event on clay at this time of year might be a little difficult for Berrettini.

His second-round meeting with Richard Gasquet or ROBERTO CARBALLES BAENA will be only his third on clay this season, while it will be his first such match in Europe since Roland Garros 2021.

CLICK HERE to back Baena with Sky Bet

Don’t be surprised to see some rust and Carballes Baena might just be able to take advantage.

He’s another with altitude form in the notebook with his only ATP title to date coming in Quito in 2018.

This season he’s made the quarter-finals in Marrakech and the semis of a Challenger Tour event in Madrid.

In terms of recent form, confidence should be high with Carballes Baena coming in off a final appearance at the Dutch Open on the Challenger Tour.

Maybe that will leave him a little jaded here but four of his five matches in Amersfoort over the past week were straight-sets affairs and so taking a small-stakes punt on him at 50/1 is given the green light.

Posted at 1615 BST on 17/07/22

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