2013 ATP Rome Round 1 – Day 2

Let me start this preview with a little disclaimer. Everyone who has followed since February knows that I have had quite a successful run betting on one of my favourite players on tour. Initially when I backed this player time after time after time (with great success), I found myself being questioned about being biased and simply backing him because I was one-eyed and biased.

I look at it as quite the opposite. I watch/track hours and hours of tennis a week to try and get an edge. I like to think I know the top 100+ players like the back of my hand. A lot of people may see this as me simply backing a favourite of mine, but I ask you this: if you know so much about your favourite players, wouldn’t it be a waste to not attempt to take advantage of that knowledge? It is all about being selective with your match-ups and plays, and knowing when to use it to your advantage.

Match Preview – Ernests Gulbis vs Jarkko Niemnen

Most players have a whipping boy. That guy you come up against that just gives you supreme confidence to be able to play to the best of your ability regardless of the situation. For example, Nadal vs Ferrer/Almagro, Berdych against Federer, and anyone with a winning record over Almagro playing against Almagro.

I think this matchup fits this bill quite well. Gulbis leads the h2h here 5-0, with the only set dropped occurring back in 2007 in a best-of-5 set matchup. As I am now one to analyse stats in great detail of matches over half a decade ago, I will look at the two meetings that have occurred in the last 3 months.

April 29, 2013 – Clay – Gulbis d Nieminen 6-4 6-2

Only 3 of 9 Gulbis service games went to Deuce.

–    Gulbis faced 6 break points. 5 of these came at 6-4 *5-2 0-40, The other 3 points were single break point opportunities saved over 2 service games (the other two games that went to deuce).

Of the 9 Nieminen service games:

–    1 service game to love
–    1 service game to 15
–    2 service gamesto 30
–    5 service games to Deuce
–    4 service games with BPs, including three consecutive service games in the 2nd set.

Nieminen talked himself up in an interview prior to the match, saying he had taken a large amount of confidence from his doubles performance the previous week, winning a title. He also highlighted a serious desire to get his first career win over Gulbis, especially after the performance earlier in the year.

Gulbis Stat One

April 29, 2013 – Hardcourt – Gulbis d Nieminen 6-3 6-2

See this link for our preview and reasoning for this particular match. It played out as we expected, considering the highlighted circumstances for Nieminen in this match -> https://www.theprofits.com.au/2013/02/atp-marseille-and-memphis-tuesday-night-tennis/

Gulbis Stat Two

Recent Claycourt Form

Gulbis has had a reasonably solid run on the clay after his surprise run through the hardcourt season. After skipping the hardcourt Miami tournament to focus on getting right for the clay season, he romped his way through two Davis Cup matches vs unknowns, and has had to qualify for some events so far on the clay. Wins over Isner, Stepanek, Verdasco and Nieminen, and losses to Raonic (faster clay surface), Monaco (arguably would have won if not for a game penalty in the 3rd set) and Haas (3 set loss, Haas then went on to win the tournament).

Gulbis has had to qualify here in Rome, winning round 1 6-1 7-6 and round 2 6-3 6-2, only dropping serve once each match.

Nieminen has had an indifferent clay season. A couple of 3rd set tiebreak wins over Raonic and Del Potro are definitely the highlights so far.  Some say the win over Del Potro on clay was a big deal for Jarkko and should definitely be taken into consideration. I don’t rate it to the degree of others, as Del Potro hasn’t been the same since the Indian Wells where he gave up a massive lead to Nadal. He then lost to Kamke on hardcourt, then beat Dolgopolov in 3, lost to Jarkko and we haven’t seen him since. This would suggest that DelPo was physically spent when he faced Jarkko, yet he still managed to push a 3rd set tiebreak.

In Bucharest on the clay, Jarkko gave up a 1-6 first set to Donskoy before winning in a 3rd set tiebreak, then losing a 3-setter to Gilles Simon, who isn’t exactly one of the form players at the moment. Jarkko last played on the ATP tour a few weeks back against Gulbis (see above).

Summary and Suggested Bet

When you further analyse the clay form of Nieminen, it doesn’t appear as strong as one may think. 4-3, with three wins coming in 3rd set tiebreaks, isn’t the best form you have ever witnessed. Gulbis on the other hand, has played some fairly solid tennis, and outside of the Monaco match and the very late stages of the Haas match, has maintained his composure quite well.

As I suggested at the start of this preview, this match is Gulbis’ for the taking in my opinion. In case you haven’t noticed over the last few months, I much prefer to take the more assertive player in a matchup. This match is on the racquet of Gulbis. He will dictate more points than Nieminen, and considering everything suggested above, I believe he will get the win.

Considering their recent match-ups and the way Gulbis consistently pressured the serve of Nieminen, I cannot refuse the -3.5 games offered by Betfair. Upon writing this, the odds at Bet365 were $1.80 for -3.5, however the 3-5 is gone and Betfair is the only one left with -3.5. This I still like all things considered, as -3.5 to -4 is a decent line differential in best of 3 set tennis. The shift to -4 though means that the only difference to the -3.5 is you may receive a money-back result rather than a win for a 6-4 6-4 type result.

Suggested Bet: Ernests Gulbis -3.5/-4 games
Betfair -3.5 (Money currently at $1.7 to back $1.79 to lay)
Betstar -4 @ $1.86
Sportingbet -4 @ $1.85
Luxbet -4 @ $1.80

Confidence: 65%

Every couple of nights I receive a couple of requests for a longer odds multi bet. I wouldn’t suggest taking this if you are taking the bet above, as there is a bit of a double up – Pays just over $6 at Luxbet:

  • Gulbis 2-0
  • Kuznetsov 2-0
  • Ramos 2-0

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I've had a passion for Tennis since I was young and haven't missed a Grand Slam ever since I can remember. I'm always happy to talk Tennis on twitter and respond to any queries so feel free to tweet me your questions.

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