Before I move on to providing an update of this week’s tennis action I just wanted to confirm Rublev one of my Fourth Quarter winner selections was a none-runner as he withdrew injured prior to the tournament starting. This week’s ATP Tour tennis action at Barcelona and Budapest is now well underway and at Barcelona the remaining second round matches will be completed today, barring any rain, and at Budapest the second-round line up is now complete. We still have seventh seed Struff (advised 10/1) and fifth seed Bedene (advised 22/1) in action after they won tough first round matches.
At Barcelona fourteen of the sixteen seeds are still in action and fourth seed Goffin, eighth seed Bautista Agut, eleventh seed Mannarino and twelfth seed Lopez made it through to the third round yesterday. The seeded players in action today are top-seed Nadal, who begins his campaign to win an eleventh title against compatriot Carballes Baena who he plays for the first time and second seed and Monte Carlo semi-finalist Dimitrov faces veteran Simon and the Frenchman leads the head-to-head 5-3. Third seed Thiem faces Spanish Wild Card Jumar for the first time, fifth seed Carreno-Busta faces Paire for the eighth time and Paire leads the head-to-head 4-3 and sixth seed Djokoivc will attempt to build on his Monte Carlo performance against qualifier Klizan who he holds a 4-0 head-to-head record against.
Seventh seed Schwartzman opens his campaign against the talented NextGen star Tsitsipas and he leads the head-to-head 1-0 and ninth seed Chung plays his first match since Miami and on clay this season and he faces American qualifier Fratangelo, with the head-to-head standing at 1-1. Tenth seed Ramos-Vinolas faces qualifier Dutra-Silva and Ramos leads the head-to-head 2-0. Fourteenth seed and Monte Carlo finalist Nishikori opens his campaign against Spaniard Garcia-Lopez and Nishikori leads the head-to-head 3-0 and sixteenth seed Khachanov opens his campaign against the talented and dangerous Leonardo Mayer and this is the first time they’ve met on the ATP Tour.
At Budapest top-seed and defending champion Pouille opens his campaign against Australian Millman who leads the head-to-head 1-0 and second seed Dzumhur faces Lucky Loser Cecchinato who beat him in straight sets at Monte Carlo last week and the head-to-head now stands at 2-2 with Cecchinato winning both encounters on clay. Third seed Gasquet opens his campaign against qualifier Sonego from Italy and Gasquet won their only meeting at this years Australian Open in straight sets. Fourth seed and NextGen star Shapovalov opens his campaign against the talented Basilashvili, fifth seed Bedene faces Italian qualifier Berretini and eighth seed Seppi will face either fellow veteran Youzhny or Hungarian Wild Card Piros after their match was suspended last night at 6-3 5-3 to Youzhny.
From a betting perspective there are quite a few matches I like that I’m quietly confident will return a profit. At Barcelona I think it’s worth opposing Dimitrov against Simon as the Frenchman leads the head-to-head 5-3 and he won their only two matches on clay. I think Paire is playing well enough and could push Carreno-Busta close today as he’s in good form, Carreno-Busta missed Monte Carlo last week with a back injury and Paire leads the head-to-head 4-3, which includes winning three of their five matches on clay. Sixth seed Djokovic has looked vulnerable and low on confidence all season and his results so far back that up. He’s lost against Chung, Daniel, Paire and Thiem this year and with Klizan on a roll and in confident mood winning three matches including qualifying this week, it’s worth opposing the sixth seed with an eye on cashing out if Klizan gets in a commanding position.
At Budapest on Thursday top-seed and defending champion Pouille could be vulnerable in his opener against the dangerous Millman as the Frenchman disappointed losing his opening match at Monte Carlos last week and as Millman won their only previous encounter the Frenchman is worth opposing, again with an eye on cashing out if Millman finds himself in a commanding position. Finally, I think fourth seed Shapovalov is worth opposing against Basilashvili as the Canadian NextGen star is inexperienced on clay, he lost his opener at Monte Carlo last week against teenager Tsitsipas in straight sets and Basilashvili has had plenty of competitive match practice on the surface so far this season winning five of his seven matches and his opener against the experienced veteran Lorenzi yesterday in straight sets.