Time to live up to the high expectations after both Stuck and I started the year off by hitting our Australian Open futures. I realize the weeks in between Slams aren’t sexy, but they usually provide the most value from a futures perspective. To be honest, these are the weeks tennis bettors love to grind through for most of the calendar year. It’s time to officially replace your football fix with tennis betting and we will have you covered throughout the year with tournament previews and daily hitters.

After a few weeks down under, the ATP tour splits up for the next month. The indoor hard season kicks off in Europe and the clay “Golden Swing” plays out around South America. We need to cap three tournaments that start on Monday, which include the two indoor hard tourneys in Bulgaria (Sofia) and France (Montpellier). The season’s first clay tournament in Ecuador (Quito) also requires our attention. This week is unique in that it follows Davis Cup, which means futures are posted later than usual. Check back in here late afternoon on Sunday, as I will update this piece accordingly. Having said that, I still want to set the stage and discuss who I am keying in on since two of these tourneys will start before those in the U.S. even wake up on Monday.

Defending Champs

  • Montpellier: Sascha Zverev (d.) Richard Gasquet
  • Quito: Victor Estrella Burgos (d.) Paulo Lorenzi
  • Sofia: Grigor Dimitrov (d.) David Goffin

I will obviously keep my eye on things down in Quito — or should I say “up” in Quito — where altitude (2,850m) has propelled veteran journeyman Victor Estrella Burgos to three consecutive titles. Since this tournament moved from Chile to Ecuador, Burgos hasn’t lost. He boasts a perfect 15-0 record in the unique Quito conditions. It’s really a remarkable story. Burgos first won the tourney in 2015, becoming the oldest player in ATP history to win his maiden title. Then, he backed it up with two more titles in 2016 and 2017. Back to back to back. The true King of Quito. The best part? He has never won another ATP title in his career.

However, with the late entries of Albert Ramos, Pablo Carreño, Gaël Monfils, and Alexander Dolgopolov, Burgos will need to peak more than he has ever peaked to win a fourth consecutive. If he does, someone needs to make a movie.

Meanwhile, in Sofia, we have a pretty grim field. Defending champ — and local favorite — Grigor Dimitrov backed out late, which cleared a spot for Stan Wawrinka. Not much else to really see in this field. I will say I was disappointed to hear that Hyeon Chung also dropped out late. I really wanted to see how he’d back up his Aussie Open breakthrough. Before getting to the potential futures value in France, let’s take a closer look at the Sofia Draw.

Top Half

(1) Wawrinka vs. Bye
Q vs. (WC) Donski
(WC) Andreev vs. Istomin
Q vs. (6) Troicki
(4) Kohlschreiber vs. Bye
Stakhovsky vs. Q
Marterer vs. Jaziri
(WC) Kuzmanov vs. (7) Sousa

Bottom Half

(5) Haase vs. Copil
Đere vs. Kavčič
Youzhny vs. Seppi
Bye vs. (3) Müller
(8) Donskoy vs. Lacko
Q vs. Albot
Baghdatis vs. Kukushkin
Bye vs. (2) Mannarino

Not the most star-studded field.. At first glance, nothing jumps out as a potential future. Some might argue Frenchman Adrian Mannarino has a decent shot at winning his first ATP title, but his recent form doesn’t inspire much confidence. He just lost this past weekend at Davis Cup in straight sets as -800 favorite to Thiemo de Bakker. In France. Yikes.

With veteran Marcos Baghdatis — who plays some of his best tennis on indoor hard courts —  and even Mikhail Youzhny hanging around the bottom half of the draw, I don’t see much value. If I did have to pick a winner, though, hmmm — give me Kohlschreiber. He he has a light draw early and I think he has enough game to get past this version of Stan in the semis (if the Swiss gets that far).

Now, let’s shift our attention to France, where Montpellier has attracted a pretty talented field ahead of the Open Sud de France.

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