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Roberto Carballes Baena and Pablo Andujar both to win (parlay) at +154 at Caesars Sportsbook
Roman Safiullin to beat Mikael Ymer at +115 at DraftKings
Diego Schwartzman to win the Barcelona Open at +1400 at FanDuel
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I expect claycourt nous to win the day in this one.
The higher-ranked Harris hasn’t been anywhere near his best so far in 2022, posting a 5-9 win-loss record – and that’s not good news heading onto the clay, his least-favorite surface.
The slower conditions blunt his strong serve and I don’t see him sticking in the rallies as well as his Spanish opponent. A 4-11 tour-level record on clay says much.
In contrast, Carballes Baena is very much at home on this surface. He’s already won seven (of 10) matches on clay since returning to Europe and while some of those were only on the second-tier Challenger Tour, it goes to show how he’s bedded in well.
RCB made the quarter-finals in Marrakech on the main tour recently where it took eventual champion David Goffin to beat him, while only last week he was a semi-finalist at the Madrid Challenger.
Fairly low temperatures and potential showers will only slow conditions further and I think the home hope should negotiate this one.
This is another clay lover v clay hater contest and I’m happy to back Andujar.
It’s a very similar tale to Harris v Carballes Baena in the sense that we’ve got players with both contrasting form and surface records.
Humbert has gone 1-8 since beating Daniil Medvedev in his opening match of the season, while he’s 0-6 on clay over the last 12 months (6-14 at tour level in his career).
Andujar, though, loves the clay. He’s been to the semis of the Marbella Challenger in recent weeks, while he was another to lose to the eventual title winner Goffin in Marrakech. And he was only a tie-break away from winning that contest.
A former finalist at this event, Andujar should have too much for Humbert and can be placed in a parlay with Carballes Baena at a decent-looking price of +154.
In terms of underdogs, Safiullin looks to have decent claims in this Serbia Open first-round clash.
He’s attuned to conditions in Belgrade having come through qualifying in the past couple of days with a decent clay sort, Nobert Gombos, among his victims.
Now he’ll face a player who’s lost his last four matches, the last two of which have been on clay.
Those surface losses came in qualifying for Marrakech and Monte Carlo respectively with Mirza Basic and Kamil Majchrzak hardly being the greatest opposition on clay. A total of 16 double faults across the two matches, not to mention numerous break points given up, suggest all is not well with the Swede’s serve too.
Safiullin, on the other hand, lost his serve only twice in his six sets in qualifying.
Admittedly Ymer did win their only previous meeting, although that was 6-4 in the third on indoor hard in 2019.
Safiullin served 15 aces in that match and having served well in the Serbian capital so far, I think he’s a good-looking outsider at +115.
Aslan Karatsev reached the Belgrade final 12 months ago but he’s not in such good form this time around and could be under threat in his opening match of this year’s tournament.
The Russian is one seed with a first-round bye and that could leave him vulnerable if Alejandro Tabilo progresses.
The Chilean has been churning out clay wins this year, most notably in Cordoba where he reached his first final on the ATP Tour and should be able to trouble the Russian, who hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Andujar could well topple seed Alex de Minaur, should they meet in round two in Barcelona.
De Minaur is another player who’ll be looking forward to getting off the clay and while he beat the Spaniard comfortably at this year’s Australian Open, it’s no surprise to see Andujar won their only previous meeting on clay.
Diego Schwartzman had a great chance to beat eventual champion Stefanos Tsitsipas last week in Monte Carlo but managed to lose their quarter-final from 4-0 40-30 up in the final set.
Still, the Argentine showed he’s in decent form and he should challenge again in a weaker field in Barcelona this week.
He’s got a good-looking draw with Felix Auger-Aliassime the top-four seed in his quarter and the Canadian’s poor recent form suggests there’s little to fear there.
Casper Ruud, a potential semi-final foe, disappointed last week, while the top seed is Tsitsipas and you wonder how tired he’ll become any potential final given his efforts in Monte Carlo.
All things considered, Schwartzman looks worth a wager at +1400.
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|ATP Barcelona & Belgrade Information
|ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell; ATP Serbia Open
|Barcelona, Spain; Belgrade, Serbia
|Monday, April 18 to Sunday, April 24
|How to Watch
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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