Andujar a lively underdog against Ramos

Albert Ramos IW 2021.jpg

Wednesday’s action on the ATP Tour features round two matches from Rio, Doha, Marseille and Delray Beach and Sean Calvert returns to preview the Rio Open…

It’s been a bit of a tough few days for underdog backers, with the vast majority of favourites winning in Doha and not a lot to get excited about in Marseille either.

In hindsight, I probably should have gone with one or two of the underdogs I mentioned in Rio on Tuesday and on Wednesday it’s Rio that I’m focussing on.

I wonder how Diego Schwartzman will fare this week after a tough few weeks in Argentina on the clay?

Schwartzman played 18 sets and was on court for 16.5 hours in total in Cordoba and Buenos Aires, with most of his matches being battles.

The last time that Schwartzman played Rio in 2019 he retired in his opening match after playing Cordoba and Buenos Aires back-to-back, while in 2018 he played only three matches in Buenos Aires (Cordoba wasn’t on the tour back then) and went on to win the Rio title.

He certainly looked weary by the end of the Buenos Aires final and he hasn’t been in the best of form so far this Golden Swing, so perhaps this is a chance for Pedro Martinez.

There isn’t a great deal between Martinez and Schwartzman on the numbers they’ve posted on clay at main level in the last 12 months: Martinez with a 101 total in terms of service/return points won and Schwartzman on 105.

In terms of their clay service hold/break totals, Martinez is decent on 106 and Schwartzman better on 111, but so far this season on clay Schwartzman has won fewer than 50% of his second serve points.

Martinez hasn’t exactly impressed so far this Golden Swing, but he’s solid and will make Schwartzman play a lot of balls in what will be a physical match. Question is, is Schwartzman up to it physically after his Argentina exertions?

Schwartzman’s been a bit of a mixed bag on clay when priced up between 1.412/5 and 1.594/7 at main level, with a 19-17 win/loss record in that price range in his career (won 7 of last 12), so I wouldn’t rule out Martinez being competitive here.

I talked about Fernando Verdasco‘s chances as underdog yesterday in his match against Dusan Lajovic and Nando came up trumps with the win and if he’s got the legs he’s not without a chance of doing it again.

He takes on Federico Coria (another underdog I mentioned yesterday) who had an easy win over an injured Cristian Garin, who finally shed some light on his dismal displays on this Golden Swing.

“I haven’t felt well for a while,” Garin revealed. “I’ve had this injury for a few months and I can’t get better. I was pretty upset about the defeat here.”

In truth, Garin was terrible and while Coria hailed it as “the biggest win of my career” he didn’t have to do much and if Verdasco is fit I’d expect Coria to be tested by the seemingly motivated Spanish veteran.

Verdasco right now is definitely playing above the level he’s shown in the past year or two since the injuries

Playing off a protected ranking Verdasco knows he must win precious ranking points in the remaining events he has with that benefit and he’s shown in recent matches that he’s willing to fight to remain on the tour at the age of 38.

Verdasco right now is definitely playing above the level he’s shown in the past year or two since the injuries and if his legs will allow him to he’s capable of beating Coria, whose stats are okay, but nothing special.

My worry with Verdasco here is that he played yesterday and he’s first on today, which may not be enough time between matches at his age against an opponent that will make it physical if he possibly can.

Albert Ramos IW 2021.jpg

Another Spanish veteran, but one who has had a day off between matches, is Pablo Andujar and he’s in with a decent chance against old foe Albert Ramos.

Andujar played a nice match against Pablo Cuevas on Monday and after a day off to rest those 36-year-old legs he’ll be ready for a battle against Ramos, who played yesterday.

Ramos’ best work these days tends to come at altitude, where he won in Cordoba and is set to play next week in Santiago and his last two wins against Andujar have come at altitude (Cordoba and Gstaad).

Andujar’s solid backhand has allowed him to have much the better of the career series against left-handed Ramos, whose patterns of play haven’t been too effective against Andujar over the years (8-4 on clay to Andujar).

Ramos’ best work these days tends to come at altitude, where he won in Cordoba and is set to play next week in Santiago and his last two wins against Andujar have come at altitude

The question is, what has Andujar got left at 36 (two years older than Ramos) and it is the younger man whose stats are better over the last 12 months on clay at main level, but not by a great deal.

Ramos leads the service points/return points combined totals by three (102 to 99) in the period of time between January 2020 and now, but 20 of Ramos’ matches were played at altitude.

Here in Rio, it’s Andujar that has a better set of stats, with a 105 serve/return points total (Ramos 103).

Andujar is some distance ahead of Ramos in their all-time clay career series and even in the last three (of which Ramos won two) Andujar still leads in terms of combined service points/return points won (102 to 98).

In the eight clay matches that we have stats for in their career series, Andujar has a 105 combined serve/return points won total (Ramos 96) and he leads in all other categories, too.

Where Ramos has been better is on saving break points against him, so two questions remain: has Andujar got enough left in his legs and can he do better on the big points?

It seems highly likely to be a real battle and over games or over sets seems a distinct possibility, but with the day off for Andujar in mind I’ll take a chance on him today for half a point.

Fabio Fognini Buenos Aires 2022.jpg

Fabio Fognini showed some of his better tennis on Tuesday with a comfortable win over Facundo Bagnis and he has the distinct advantage of having more clay matches under his belt lately than Pablo Carreno Busta.

PCB hasn’t felt the red dirt beneath his feet since winning the Hamburg title last July without dropping a set and he may take a while to get going today, similarly to what we saw from Carlos Alcaraz earlier in the week.

The big plus for PCB is that he’s dominated the career series with Fognini to the tune of 7-1 win/loss and 4-0 on clay, winning over 10% more points on second serve compared to the Italian in this match-up (all surfaces).

PCB hasn’t felt the red dirt beneath his feet since winning the Hamburg title last July without dropping a set and he may take a while to get going today…

On clay only, it’s a similar story, with Fognini winning only 43% of his second serve points (PCB 51%) and winning 55% of his service points (PCB 61%) and 39% of his return points (PCB 46%).

Fognini isn’t without a reasonable chance on his best form and this could be another close one, but I like the idea of backing PCB to edge this clash 2-1 at 4.03/1 such has been his superiority in this match-up.

So, small stakes today, with two wagers that I like the prices on.

Author: Ellen Garcia