While the women (have to) take a little break after the French Open, there are three ATP as well as two Challenger events this week. Clay courters can continue their autumn grind as both Challengers and the ATP event in Sardinia are still played on the red dirt. According to season, we also have the first two indoor events this week with the ATP 500 in St. Petersburg and the ATP 250 in Cologne, which I will preview first.

Weakening veterans

The "bett1HULKS Indoors" is the first part of a back-to-back event in the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. Tournament director Barbara Rittner initially wanted to organize both an ATP and a WTA event, but even though a lot of tournaments were cancelled on the women's side, the WTA didn't get it together. So we will have consecutive ATP 250s the next two weeks. Bett1 is the main sponsor and unlike many might think, they are not a betting company but sell bed mattresses.

Alexander Zverev is the top seed this week and me only writing this preview after Day 1 has already paid off. Filip Krajinovic was a name I had circled in the top half and he got defeated by Steve Johnson yesterday. There are a lot of big names in that first quarter in Fernando Verdasco, Andy Murray or Kyle Edmund. However, as big as their names are, as bad is their form.

Verdasco only played one match after restart which he lost 0-6 2-6 to Damir Dzumhur in the qualifying of Rome. Murray was tough to watch in Paris and even though he beat Zverev in the warmup tournament to the US Open, it doesn't look like he'll be on top of his game again this year. It was rather Zverev beating himself in New York as he still had massive issues with his second serve, which seem to be resolved by now. The other name I mentioned was Edmund and even though the potential is there, he just can't live up to it on the bigger stages. I wouldn't be surprised if Lloyd Harris beat him in round one.

The odds on Zverev to win the tournament are +250, but bet365 have him at -105 to win the quarter. The German only has to win two matches for that, which means he would be -250 against Verdasco/Murray and Edmund/Harris/Johnson. I just don't see it and would rather make him around -400 against any of them, maybe a little higher against Murray. Steve Johnson's slice can be one nasty shot indoors, but I don't really see anybody preventing Zverev from reaching the semifinal here.

Wide open second quarter

The second quarter is well-rounded and the first second round match is already set with Benoit Paire facing Dennis Novak. In the other section, we have a clash between two veterans in Ricardas Berankis and Marin Cilic, who both thrive on indoor hard courts. While this is a match to look forward to, the one between 21-year-old youngsters Emil Ruusuvuori and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina intrigues me even more. The young Finn finally gets away from clay again and didn't have much trouble qualifying. Davidovich Fokina is 4-9 indoors so far in his young career, but I still think he's capable on the surface.

So I have no idea who comes out of that eighth with Ruusuvuori, Fokina, Berankis and Cilic, but with Dennis Novak sitting around -167 against Benoit Paire, whose motivations are always open to question, I think the Austrian is value at +375 to win the second quarter. The odds suggest Novak will be +200 in a potential quarterfinal bout and I also give him a chance there.

Woeful draw for Bautista Agut

To cut a long story short, I won't have a bet in the second half of the draw. On these courts, I would have loved to bet Roberto Bautista Agut, but the odds just aren't big enough considering his rather brutal draw. He will probably face Marton Fucsovics in his first match and then have to beat Hubert Hurkacz just to get to the semifinal. If Zverev makes it out of the first half, Bautista Agut would still be the underdog in a final, so +600 is not enough to get behind the Spaniard for me.

The third quarter is wide open and already saw two upsets as Oscar Otte beat Jan-Lennard Struff and Radu Albot got the better of Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top seed in that quarter, but I don't trust him enough (yet) to bet him at such low odds. It will be interesting to see whether Daniel Altmaier can continue his rise on a surface he didn't play much on during his career and he might be worth a look at +850 to win the quarter. Nevertheless, I stick to the two plays in the first half for now, Zverev to win the first quarter at -105 and Novak to win the second quarter at +375.

All bets

A. Zverev to win 1st quarter

ATP Cologne

  • 0.95 u

Novak to win 2nd quarter

ATP Cologne

  • -0.50 u