Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open
Geneva, Switzerland (outdoor clay)

I always feel the ATP Tour’s ‘250’ tournaments – the lowest of the tiers – offer the best value for punters and so it’s good to see two such events this week, one in Geneva and one in Lyon.

The potential pitfall is the fact that this week is the one before a Grand Slam tournament (the French Open starts next Sunday) and players can often withdraw mid-tournament if they pick up even the slightest niggle.

The flip side of that is that the leading seeds are the ones most likely to do this – they are usually the ones holding serious hopes of a deep run at the major event. I am usually looking to oppose the big names in weeks such as this and here I’m happy to take on late entrant and top seed Alex Zverev.

The fact that he did only enter on Friday says much. The German has been struggling for form for a few months now and clearly wants more matches under his belt before heading to Roland Garros.

Things looked to be on an upward curve at last for Zverev when he ended David Ferrer’s career in Madrid with an impressive display. But after going on to lose there to Stefanos Tsitsipas, he duly went to Rome and was beaten by Matteo Berrettini in the first round.

To be fair, Berrettini has been in good form, as followers of this column will know as we backed him each way at 40/1 in Munich where he made the final, and many of Zverev’s claycourt defeats have been far from awful as he’s lost to some decent dirtballers.

Cristian Garin

One of them was eventual champion Cristian Garin in Munich and the in-form Chilean looks worth backing again here.

Another player to reward our faith when he made the Sao Paulo final back in March, Garin has really pushed on since, winning in Houston as well as Munich. He also made the last 16 in a strong Barcelona field.

He didn’t attempt to qualify for either Madrid or Rome, resting up after a hectic period, but he’s now refreshed and ready to go again.

The 22-year-old won’t be seeded at Roland Garros, so knowing he could face Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in round one next week, he should be giving it his all in Geneva where he has a first-round bye and will only need to win four matches to become champion.

It is a venue which should help his game. Garin’s title in Munich and final in Sao Paulo were both at a fairly high altitude and while we’re lower in Geneva, the city is still almost 400m above sea level.

Garin’s serve has been strong in his recent spell of success and the thinner air will help him on that front.

As well as Zverev, who he can’t face until the final, Garin has beaten the likes of last year’s French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato and Diego Schwartzman, who at time of writing was still in the running at the Rome Masters.

With only two players from the world’s top 30 in attendance this week, the level of opposition isn’t great, so backing Garin at 6/1 looks worthwhile.

Leonardo Mayer

For a longer shot, I’m returning to Zverev’s top half of the draw to back Leonardo Mayer at 25/1.

Mayer hasn’t been churning out the wins of late like Garin but he has shown signs that he’s capable of a good run somewhere.

The Argentine took a set off clay king Nadal in Barcelona and then went to Estoril and beat Monte Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic.

Significantly, Mayer has performed well in this week in the past, reaching the final of this tournament in 2015 when it was held in Nice.

He’s another who seems unlikely to be holding anything back and earns my long-shot selection.

Tips:

Cristian Garin to win @

Leonardo Mayer each way @

 

Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon
Lyon, France (outdoor clay)

The third staging of this Lyon tournament looks as wide open as you’re likely to get on the ATP Tour with every chance of a decent-priced finalist at the very least.

Roberto Bautista Agut, the second seed, is chalked up as the 4/1 favourite but that looks skinny to me given his form which is a long way short of the Spaniard’s best.

Top seed Nikoloz Basilashvili has also been struggling of late, while Denis Shapovalov still looks a way from challenging for claycourt titles.

Fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime is a player who has been mentioned in this column before and he warrants respect. It’s taken some pretty good players to beat him in Europe this season – he’s lost to Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Nadal and Borna Coric in recent weeks.

While not in such class, Pablo Andujar, FAA’s likely first opponent here, does look an awkward customer.

After winning back-to-back events on the Challenger Tour, Andujar reached the final on the main tour in Marrakech (another success for this column).

Injury has since kept him off court though.

I can see the winner of this second-round clash going deep but with doubts over Andujar’s current fitness I’m going to resist backing him at 14s and, for me, Auger-Aliassime is short enough at 8/1.

Pablo Cuevas

Instead I’m going to turn to a 12/1 shot who is certainly in good form and injury-free, namely Pablo Cuevas.

He’s in the opposite (bottom) half of the draw with his path to the semis likely to take in Hubert Hurkacz, Benoit Paire and Shapovalov.

Unless the mercurial Paire finds his top level (and he’s recently been hammered in his openers in both Madrid and Rome), Cuevas is better than those players on this surface.

His recent record helps prove his claycourt prowess – he’s won two Challenger titles, reached the final on the main tour in Estoril and the quarter-finals in Budapest. That’s all come after he appeared in two semi-finals during the South American claycourt swing earlier in the season.

After a week in which he only played one doubles match in Rome, Cuevas should be raring to continue his good run and I’m happy to back the Uruguayan at 12/1.

Tip:

Pablo Cuevas each way @

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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