Last week was a disappointment after a strong start for the picks, but I am hoping for more positive consistency in the next week. I didn't make any picks from a Monday that didn't feature any matches that I felt I had a good read of, but Tuesday has a few more options with those tournaments mentioned really getting up and running.
Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v Ernests Gulbis: One of the more intriguing matches in the First Round in Rotterdam, on paper at least, features Gael Monfils taking on the Qualifier Ernests Gulbis. It is strange to see Gulbis needing to come through Qualifiers again but he has dropped down to Number 80 in the World Rankings after a really disappointing 2015 season.
That came on the heels of two season on the Tour where Gulbis had won 73 matches for the loss of 38, but it looks like 2016 is going to be another difficult one for the Latvian. He has had at least two really disappointing losses in early Qualifiers, while last week a returning Richard Gasquet was barely threatened in a comfortable two set win against Gulbis on the indoor courts of Montpellier.
Montpellier proved to be a disappointment for Gael Monfils too with an early loss in the draw and I do think he has underachieved in his career. There are little signs the athleticism is deteriorating in his thirtieth year, but the Frenchman hasn't ever been able to get the balance between entertaining and winning and that has to be a disappointment for those who thought he was destined for the very top of the men's game.
Monfils is a solid indoor hard court player though because he can get enough balls back in play through his return while having a pretty big serve himself. He isn't really someone I trust to win these tournaments because of his lack of consistency through his career, but Monfils has the game to frustrate someone like Gulbis and I do expect him to win this one.
There is no doubt that Monfils can make life difficult at times and Gulbis has a decent first serve which can offer him some cheap points. However, I also think the Latvian can see his game break down, especially from the forehand wing and I think Monfils will be able to come through with a 76, 64 win in this First Round match.
Renzo Olivo + 2.5 games v Facunda Bagnis: It might be a strange situation for Facunda Bagnis having to come through the Qualifiers while his lower Ranked opponent received a Wild Card into the main draw. However Renzo Olivo earned that spot with a strong showing in Quito last week and I do think the younger Argentinian in this First Round match has enough upside to make use of the games being given to him.
There is plenty to like about the Olivo game if he can maintain that form through the course of the season, but I think the second serve remains an issue. He did play well in Quito where the conditions should be a lot quicker than they will be in Buenos Aires and backing up those weeks on the Tour is tough for a player that is Number 151 in the World Rankings.
Olivo also has to get through the fact he has lost four of five against Bagnis who has been dominating at the Challenger level which is where both of these players generally ply their trade. My concern is also the long week for Olivo has perhaps sapped some energy for his home ATP tournament, both physically and emotionally having reached the later stages after coming through Qualifiers.
Even with that in mind, I think Olivo should have been given some confidence from his performance and he can really give Bagnis a challenge in this one. I am guessing Bagnis is a strong favourite having won back to back Challenger events on the clay courts last month, but Olivo has played well at the Australian Open and in Quito and I like his chances of keeping this competitive even if he falls short of going through to the Second Round.
I actually think Olivo has a good chance of building on last week, but I will take the games as an insurance for that feeling.
Dominic Thiem - 2.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: I am a big Dominic Thiem fan and the clay courts have proven to be his most effective surface in his career so far which means the South American Golden Swing could be a big time for him. His start to 2016 has been a little hit and miss and he is playing an opponent that has already got some clay court tennis beneath his feet having played in Quito, but I still like Thiem's chances in the contest.
There is no doubting that Pablo Carreno Busta is very confident on the clay courts himself, but he can be a little erratic with his overall game and that won't cut it against a player of Thiem's quality. The first serve is decent, but Carreno Busta's second serve can become a weakness in pressurised situations.
The Spaniard did play well in Quito to reach the Quarter Final when he was downed in a final set decider by eventual Runner Up Thomaz Bellucci. However, Carreno Busta has to be disappointed he has not had a bigger impact on the main Tour barring a couple of really good performances against some big name players.
Carreno Busta actually has a losing record on the clay courts on the main Tour and I think Thiem is definitely the more capable player. My one concern will be the focus in playing his first match on the clay courts in 2016, but I think Thiem has the service edge and should win the extended rallies off the ground which will lead to a 75, 64 win in this one.
MY PICKS: Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Renzo Olivo + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Dominic Thiem - 2.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Season 2016: - 34.24 Units (272 Units Staked, - 12.59% Yield)
Season 2015: - 21.81 Units (1812 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
Season 2014: + 45.05 Units (1586.5 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)