Carballes Baena too short in Cecchinato clash

Roberto Carballes Baena AO 2022.jpg

The clay court action continues on the ATP Tour on Tuesday and Sean Calvert returns to take a look at the chances of the betting underdogs on day two…

Day one at the Grand Prix Hassan II and at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships was pretty much a washout and so there’s already a backlog of matches, with none of our bets starting on Monday.

So, there are lots of matches scheduled for today at both venues and if the forecast is correct, wind will be the problem today rather than rain.

As far as clay court main level stats are concerned from the last 12 months, Alex Molcan is some distance ahead of Stefano Travaglia and at 1.608/13 I’d be tempted, but Molcan looked to be struggling with calf problems in Marbella last week and he’s recently had Covid.

Perhaps the most intriguing match of the day in Marrakech on Tuesday is the clash between Albert Ramos and Lorenzo Musetti, with Ramos’s price of around 1.748/11 looking about right on the recent clay stats.

In the past 12 months on clay at main level, Ramos has a combined service points won/return points won total of 103 and a hold/break total of 106, while Musetti is on 100 in both categories, so I can’t argue with Ramos’ price.

Ramos tends to go well with a bit of altitude, but he’s yet to show any form in Marrakech with a 2-4 win/loss record and it would be no surprise if Musetti handed him another early exit, however there’s no value on the Italian today for me.

One of the most bizarre runs of form that I can recall in recent times was when Joao Sousa won Pune in February this year having won just one match in his previous 24 main level tournaments stretching back to September 2019.

Since then, Sousa has failed to win another main level match and the last time that he won a match on clay at main level was in the summer of 2019 in Gstaad when he made the semi finals a week after losing to Federico Delbonis in Bastad.

So, unless he’s going to go on another utterly unfathomable run this week in Marrakech it really would be a leap of faith to bet on him to beat Delbonis today, although Delbonis has struggled lately, too, winning back-to-back matches at only two tournaments since Hamburg last summer.

Delbonis usually wins the matches that he should, with a 24-7 win/loss record at main level when priced up between 1.211/5 and 1.392/5, but he’s too short for me to be taking an interest.

Roberto Carballes Baena AO 2022.jpg

So, unlike yesterday when I could see potential value on several underdogs, I’m finding it harder today, but the one who looks too short is Roberto Carballes Baena.

RCB takes on Marco Cecchinato and the price of 1.402/5 is all due to the poor form of Cecchinato, who has lost his last seven matches at all levels, but this still looks too short on Carballes Baena, who’s lost to Cecchinato four times in six career meetings.

Cecchinato is struggling, but he still pops up with good weeks now and then, notably when he made the final of Parma at main level last May and after that at Challenger level as recently as October when he made the Losinj final and had to withdraw.

On the main level clay court stats of the last 12 months it’s actually Cecchinato that’s ahead of RCB on combined service hold/break totals (99 compared to 98) and also on combined service points won/return points won (102 compared to 97).

At these odds and with the fact that the Italian has regularly beaten the Spaniard (Cecchinato won their most recent clash at a similar altitude to this in Madrid last season as 1.804/5 favourite) I’m happy to chance Cecchinato on the handicap.

He should fancy this against an opponent he knows he can beat and +3.5 games on the handicap should be around the 2.1011/10 mark.

Number two seed, Dan Evans, looks like he’ll face an uphill battle against primed clay veteran Pablo Andujar, with the latter having played four matches on the red dirt last week in Marbella, where he reached the semi finals.

But the price about Andujar of around 1.705/7 seems to be taking that into account too much because on the main level clay stats for the last 12 months it’s actually Evans who’s posted the better numbers.

Andujar is 8-8 win/loss and with a hold/break total of 99 and a combined service points won/return points won total of 98, which is nothing to get excited about considering that Evans is 6-6 win/loss and on a hold/break total of 104 and a serve/return points won combined total of 99, too.

The market thinks that Andujar’s clay matches last week and possibly his great record in Marrakech give him a decent edge, but there’s no value at all in him at this price for my money.

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime wasn’t great on the clay last season and comes here after back-to-back opening match losses in Indian Wells and Miami.

So, he’d probably have been quite pleased with his opponent in round one here, which is world number 436, Elliot Benchetrit, who has played only six main level matches and lost five of them (the one win came against Cam Norrie at the 2019 French Open).

This will be his first main level appearance since the 2020 French Open when he was given a wild card and this season he’s been playing ITFs and Challengers with little success (he lost in qualies last week in Marbella).
So, it would be a pretty big upset if FAA were to lose that one.

Little value to shout about in Houston

In Houston, I’d expect Tommy Paul and Daniel Elahi Galan to beat their struggling opponents Peter Gojowczyk and Sam Querrey, while anything is still possible when Nick Kyrgios takes to the court, so I’ll leave those matches alone.

Cristian Garin is a risky bet at the moment due to his ongoing shoulder issues, which he says are behind him now, but we’re yet to see any evidence of that on the match court in 2022.

Garin was dreadful on the South American swing because of that injury and while he said after his defeat to Pedro Martinez in Miami that he was feeling good again now I’m not backing him until I can see that he’s fully recovered.

The days when Pablo Cuevas went toe-to-toe with Rafael Nadal are long gone now, but Cuevas should still have enough in the tank to beat Max Purcell on the clay and similarly the clay skills of Juan Pablo Varillas should be too strong for Mitchell Krueger.

The concern with backing clay courters at short prices in Houston is that they sometimes find the US clay harder to play on, so I wouldn’t be keen on taking short odds, especially in the early rounds.

Author: Ellen Garcia