Zapata Miralles can test Davidovich Fokina in all-Spanish clash

Diego Schwartzman Buenos Aires 2022.jpg

The BMW Open Munich and the Estoril Open are at their second round stage on Wednesday and Sean Calvert returns to find some value on day three…

The big names start to enter proceedings at the BMW Open and the Estoril Open on Wednesday, with Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud in action in Munich, but second seed Diego Schwartzman has, unsurprisingly, withdrawn from Estoril.

Zverev takes on Holger Rune in Munich in what could be a very useful workout for Zverev, who hasn’t looked at his best so far this season and is need of matches ahead of the French Open.

If we compare relative stats from the last 12 months, it doesn’t really give us a current picture because Zverev is not at the level he was last year on the clay and Rune is improving rapidly.

Looking back at this time last year it was a similar story for Zverev, who lost early in Monte-Carlo and Munich, but went on to win Madrid, make the last eight in Rome (lost to Nadal) and the semis of the French Open (lost to Tsitsipas).

So, I don’t think he’ll be too worried if he doesn’t win this Munich title and as far as betting on this match with Rune is concerned I think Rune is good enough to win a set on current form, so the 2-1 to Zverev appeals at around 4.216/5.

I took a punt on Alex Molcan outright in the bottom half of the draw in Munich and he faces Ruud on Wednesday in a second career meeting after Ruud retired during their first clash, which was back in 2018 in the Seville Challenger.

Obviously, I’m hoping for a Molcan win again today, and it’s not out of the question given Ruud’s lack of form so far on this clay swing.

Ruud’s won his last nine on clay against lefties since July 2019…

Since losing the Miami final on hard courts, Ruud has really struggled with his game and seems to lack confidence at the moment, but he has a really good record against left-handers, which is perhaps surprising when considering that his backhand is his weakest shot.

Ruud’s won his last nine on clay against lefties since July 2019, so I’m hoping that the slow, heavy conditions (it’s set to be another drizzly day in Munich on Wednesday) play into Molcan’s hands and he can bring Ruud out of his baseline comfort zone with his favourite drop shot.

So, no bet there and I can’t say that I fancy Daniel Altamier to do much against Miomir Kecmanovic either, but Nikoloz Basilashvili might well get the better of Ilya Ivashka as underdog.

Basil has a superb record in Germany lately, winning 16 of his last 19 matches here, and is defending champion, so he won’t mind the conditions at all, but who can really tell what sort of performance Basil will produce on any given day.

Basil has a superb record in Germany lately, winning 16 of his last 19 matches here, and is defending champion, so he won’t mind the conditions at all…

My gut feeling is that he’ll turn up for this one and it does seem odd that the layers had Basil as a 15.014/1 chance to win the tournament outright and Ivashka at 40.039/1 yet they make Ivashka the 1.584/7 favourite to win this match.

Given Basil’s record here I certainly wouldn’t be backing Ivashka to win this match at this price.

Schwartzman out, Verdasco in at the Estoril Open

Diego Schwartzman Buenos Aires 2022.jpg

Over in Portugal at the Estoril Open they’ve lost their second seed and the tournament favourite Diego Schwartzman, who pulled out after a few tough weeks on the clay and with Madrid and Rome to come.

The lucky loser is Fernando Verdasco, who gets to take on his old sparring partner Pablo Cuevas in what will be the sixth and probably final career meeting between the veteran duo.

Verdasco is surely in his last season and while he promised a bit of a last hurrah during the South American swing, he doesn’t look up to it now at 38, but he at least will be fresher than Cuevas, who played a near-three hour match on Tuesday.

Question mark over Tiafoe’s fitness

Frances Tiafoe was struggling physically in his match against Dusan Lajovic on Monday, but after taking an off-court MTO in the second set he perked up considerably and made the comeback against Lajovic, who can’t seem to play more than one good set in matches these days.

The question now for Tiafoe backers at around 1.784/5 against local hope Nuno Borges is whether or not the American will be fit for duty and Borges’ luck might be really in this week after he got a retirement from Pablo Andujar in round one.

Of his condition, Tiafoe said: “I’m not feeling very well. I’m a little bit under the weather. It was tough for me to move or breathe and stuff like that. The physio saved me today. He took me in there, down a set and a break, and I started feeling a little bit better.”

It’s clearly somewhat of a gamble backing Tiafoe today, hence his price being bigger than it ought to be against someone of limited experience at his level, like Borges, who was getting outplayed by Andujar prior to the veteran Spaniard succumbing to injury.

Will Davidovich Fokina reproduce his Monte-Carlo form?

Talking of Spaniards, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina faces an all-Spanish battle with qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles on Wednesday and I don’t mind taking a chance on the underdog here.

Zapata Miralles was very impressive in round one against Federico Coria, really taking the game to the Argentine and overpowering Coria in straight sets and that came after Zapata Miralles had beaten both Pedro Sousa and Carlos Taberner in straight sets to qualify.

So, he’s been in super form this week so far in Estoril and all of that match action here should give him an advantage over Davidovich Fokina, who hasn’t played since surprisingly making the Monte-Carlo final a fortnight ago.

I’m sceptical about whether or not ADF will continue to play at the level he showed that week in Monaco and I’m happy to take a chance that his run there will not suddenly see him playing to that level week-in, week-out.

He’s never shown any real consistency until now and indeed that was his first final at main level, so it remains to be seen whether or not this a new, more consistent Davidovich Fokina.

The layers think it might be and they’ve made him as short as 1.384/11 to beat Zapata Miralles, which doesn’t compare favourably with the 1.68/13 that he was priced up as when he met Zapata Miralles on indoor hard just over a year ago in Montpelier, France.

That day, ADF came out a winner in a final set after two tight sets, but as it did that day (when BZM was also a qualifier and ADF was playing his opening match) it may take Davidovich Fokina a while to get going.

The idea I have here is to either take the underdog to win the opening set at around 2.68/5 or to win a set or take Davidovich Fokina to win it 2-1 at around 4.3100/30.

Albert Ramos IW 2021.jpg

Finally, for Wednesday, we have Albert Ramos, the defending Estoril champ, taking on Soonwoo Kwon, who has shown flashes of ability on the clay and he’s very much capable of taking a set against Ramos, as Jordan Thompson did yesterday.

But in what’s always a really tough week, I’ll take Zapata Miralles to do something against Davidovich Fokina for half a point, with the next best option as far as value is concerned being Basilashvili as underdog against Ivashka in Munich.

Author: Ellen Garcia