- Chris Sobey
Both ATP Tennis tournaments this week are well underway and at Barcelona the top seeds and big names begin their campaigns today. Firstly, our one selection at Barcelona this week Richard Gasquet, withdrew from the tournament prior to playing his first match against Malek Jaziri.
With that in mind I will advise an alternative tip. Sixth seed Benoit Paire at 26/1 could be due a good run after reaching the third round at Monte Carlo last week where he just lost a narrow three setter against Andy Murray.
Paire has a winning head-to-head record against the likes of ninth seed Cuevas and teenage sensation Zverev, who he could potentially face in the fourth round and quarter-finals respectively. If he progresses to the semi’s he could face defending champion and second seed Kei Nishikori, who gets his campaign underway today against world number 102 Thiemo de Bakker.
Paire and Nishikori have met four times on the ATP Tour and Paire won the last two, albeit on hard courts at Tokyo and the US Open last year. He clearly has the game to trouble the world number six and at very generous odds is worth a shot considering he’s already through to the third round.
There have been a number of surprise results and upsets so far, namely qualifier Karen Kachanov knocking out fifth seed Bautista-Agut, Malek Jaziri knocking out teenage sensation Hyeon Chung and qualifier and veteran Radek Stepanek knocking out former Barcelona finalist Santiago Giraldo.
Outright tournament favourite Rafa Nadal will attempt to win a record tenth Barcelona title this week and gets his campaign underway today against compatriot Marcel Granollers-Pujol. Nadal lead’s the head-to-head 3-0 and should face little resistance in progressing to the third round.
From a match betting perspective today Ivan Dodig at 7/4 is worth siding with against seventh seed Feliciano Lopez at Barcelona, as both of his wins against the veteran Spaniard came at this tournament in 2014 and 2013.
Alexander Zverev at Barcelona and Lucas Pouille at Bucharest both have winning head-to-head records against their respective opponents Bellucci and Karlovic and can be backed to progress to the third round in a double at Evens.