Dominic Thiem vs Marco Cecchinato
This pair famously met in the French Open semi-finals of 2018 and it seems rather odd they should be facing off in the first round of a 250-level event the week before they return to Roland Garros.
Both have suffered hard times. Thiem has lost five consecutive matches since returning to play almost one year ago after sustaining a wrist injury. It doesn’t seem like a simple opening in Geneva.
Cecchinato qualified so they are in tune with the conditions. They play at an altitude of notable importance in Switzerland and higher temperatures are forecast.
The Italian won just nine of his games against Julian Lenz and Pablo Cuevas over the weekend, ending a losing streak. He’s now in contention for a good price at this clash.
Thiem seems to be lacking confidence at the moment and is worth supporting.
I am tempted to choose Berankis over the other big-priced, underdogs.
Delbonis lost to Pablo Carreno Busta last week in Rome, which suggests that there might be some underlying problems. He’s also had heavy losses against Marton Fucsovics (both of whom are clay-shy) in recent weeks.
Berankis doesn’t play on clay courts but showed some improvements last season and reached the third round of Roland Garros.
He should find Geneva’s more suited to his game than his opponent.
The elephant in the room, however, is that it will be the Lithuanian’s first match since March. This clearly presents problems.
With this in mind, rather than back him to win the match at +250, I’m going to take a punt on him winning the first set at +200 as it’s not hard to see him fading if this goes long, which clay court matches certainly can do.
Ilya Ivashka will face Marcos Giron Ivashka. While clay may not be his favorite surface, his serve is strong enough to make it difficult for him in Geneva.
He may have not had the best results lately, but he has had some difficult draws and put up great fights against tough opponents in defeat.
He’s won sets against Lorenzo Musetti, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina over the past few weeks.
Now, with more favorable conditions and an opponent who is weaker, the Belarusian seems worthy of our support.
Giron won a surprising victory over Diego Schwartzman at Rome, but this is due to his recent poor form. Prior to Rome’s main draw, he had gone 1-6 on clay.
Ivashka should win and I’ll go with the straight-sets play at +135.
Round Two Upsets?
The week leading up to a Grand Slam tournament is often filled with surprises. Many of the top seeds could find themselves in trouble early on.
In Geneva, Daniil Medvedev, the world number 2 after hernia surgery is participating for the first-time since. He could lose easily to Richard Gasquet or John Millman if he dislikes clay.
Medvedev has played 21 clay events at tour level and in 15 of those he’s lost his opening match; I suspect his opponent will be priced up too big to worsen that statistic.
Reilly Opelka is 0-3 on the European clay and may also be worth opposing against, probably, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, a player who enjoys playing at altitude – seven of his 11 ATP finals have been played at least 400m above sea level.
They are only a couple of metres from the mark, but it is clear.
Pablo Carreno Busta could have problems with Federico Coria in Lyon, who was a semi-finalist at Marrakech. With the French Open approaching, the Spaniard is unlikely to be as impressive since the Barcelona final.
Last but not least, top seed Cameron Norrie was injured in his ankle in Rome just a few days before.
Francisco Cerundolo, a good clay player capable of moving the ball around and testing Norrie’s strength and fitness, looks like an unorthodox opener.
I was correct last week when I said Rome was the best time to support Novak Djokovic. He won without dropping a set and took home his title.
In a similar vein I am willing to support Casper Ruud at Geneva.
The Norwegian clay player has been disappointing for much of this European season, but he showed some promise last week in Rome when he reached the semi-finals. Djokovic was too strong.
He hasn’t played nearly as many matches since hitting clay, so even though Roland Garros is only days away I think he will be looking for more matches. With a first round bye, he won’t have four.
Ruud won this title last season and can make a successful defence at odds of +250.
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How to Watch ATP Lyon and Geneva
ATP Lyon and Geneva Information What ATP Gonet Geneva Open; ATP Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon Location Geneva, Switzerland; Lyon, France Time Sunday May 15 to Saturday May 21 How to Watch Tennis Channel