Nieminen can down wayward Melzer and anchor ATP treble
Sao Paulo – Aljaz Bedene to beat Albert Montanes @ Evens
World number 103 Aljaz Bedene has had little reward for playing a high standard this year, however, he should get the result to match the performance against Albert Montanes in the first round in Sao Paulo.
The 24-year-old has ran recent Vina del Mar winner Fabio Fognini close twice already this year, handing out a bagel to the world number 14 last week in Rio.
He eventually lost that match but showed enough to warrant support against a badly out of form Montanes.
The inconsistent Spaniard has only won one match in four events this year and looks there for the taking.
Acapulco – Jarkko Nieminen to beat Jurgen Melzer @ 4/7
Jurgen Melzer withdrew from the Australian Open with a shoulder injury and hasn’t been seen since, all good news for his Acapulco first round opponent Jarkko Nieminen.
While Melzer has been having to deal with another signpost on a journey through his career decline, Nieminen has began the year brightly, with a brace of Davis Cup rubber wins and a run to the semi-finals of Montpellier a fortnight ago – losing out to eventual winner Gael Monfils in three sets.
Furthermore, the Finn has a stranglehold on their head-to-head record, tasting defeat only once in five previous meetings. Although the last encounter was over four years ago Melzer has only been getting worse since and it would be a surprise if his seasonal bow was a successful one.
Dubai – Michael Russell to beat Radek Stepanek @ 13/8
Two veterans of the game who first crossed racquets 12 years ago face-off in the Dubai Duty Free Championships first round and preference is for the slightly older Russell to prevail at what appear to be generous odds.
Born six months earlier than his Czech opponent, 35-year-old Russell refuses to fade away from the sport as demonstrated when reaching the semi-finals in Memphis two weeks ago.
The world number 106 was at the top of his game in defeating Lleyton Hewitt in the last-eight and carried on that form next up in Delray Beach where he took second seed John Isner to a deciding set in his tournament opener.
A reproduction of that level would be good enough to inflict a third win from four meetings on his opponent who is looking more likely to give up playing singles than Russell at present.
The world number 48 has lost his last two matches and hasn’t played a competitive event since the Australian Open where he retired when beaten in the first round.
The prices don’t reflect all this and although Stepanek does deserve to be favourite he certainly shouldn’t be such a heavy one.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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