Tennis - This Week's Tournament Preview
Another profitable week for my tennis advice with Albert Ramos-Vinolas (9/1) winning the Bastad title and it was possible to make a profit on Pablo Cuevas (10/3) , who reached the final at Hamburg, if you cashed out as he was the hot favourite (1.36) to beat eventual winner Klizan. Before I move on to this week’s ATP action I will give a quick rundown of last weekend’s World Group Davis Cup action, which involved defending champions Great Britain.
Great Britain faced Serbia at the weekend without their talisman Andy Murray. However, the hosts were without world number one Djokovic and their second best player Troicki, which put the defending champions in a strong position to reach September’s semi-finals. Kyle Edmunds was Great Britain’s hero at the weekend winning both of his singles rubbers and Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot won the doubles, which was enough to send Great Britain through to the semi-finals.
Great Britain will face Argentina in this round as they knocked out Italy 3-1 thanks to two impressive singles rubbers wins for Delbonis and a doubles win for Del Potro and Pella. The other semi-final will be between France, who knocked out the Czech Republic 3-1 and Croatia who recorded a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to beat USA 3-2 in their backyard.
On to this week’s ATP action and it’s a really busy week with no less than four ATP Tournaments taking place. In America the US Open Series Hard Court swing commences in Washington DC and in Europe there are three clay court tournaments, which brings to an end to the 2016 clay court season.
At Washington the top two seeds have performed well over the last decade winning seven of the last ten titles (last 2015) and the second seed has the best record winning five titles in this period. Defending champion Kei Nishikori does not return to defend his title due to injury. John Isner is the top-seed and favourite this year and he has a solid record at Washington reaching three finals in 2007, 2013 and 2015. However, he makes little appeal at the price this year as he picked up a leg injury at Wimbledon and will no doubt be emotionally distraught after being part of the Davis Cup team that lost to Croatia at the weekend from 2-0 up.
Second seed Monfils is a former finalist at Washington and has to be respected but he has played little competitive tennis since injuring his ankle during the European clay court season and he also makes little appeal at the prices. Seeded players in general have dominated the title over the last decade winning seven of the last ten (last 2015), including the last four, and a player seeded no higher than 13 was a losing finalist eight times in this period (last 2015), including the last seven.
In the top-half of the draw third seed Bernard Tomic (18/1) has a good record on faster surfaces and has to be respected at a decent price this week. He’s won three ATP Titles all on hard courts at Sydney and Bogota (twice), reached the semi-finals at Sydney (lost to Raonic), the final at Acapulco (lost to Thiem) and has also performed well recently reaching the semi-finals at Queens (lost to Raonic) and the fourth round at Wimbledon where he lost to Pouille 10-8 in the fifth set.
In the bottom half of the draw eighth seed Sam Querrey (16/1) stands out as he’s been in good form this year, he has a great record during his career on hard courts in America winning six titles, including Delray Beach this year, and if he can reproduce his best form this week he will be difficult to stop reaching Sunday’s final.
At Kitzbuhel the top-two seeds have a very poor record over the last decade. They’ve won no titles between them during this period and were a losing finalist only three times (last 2013). However, top-seed Thiem and second seed Kohlschreiber are prolific winners of titles and matches at this level during their respective careers and both have won ATP 250 clay court titles this season, Thiem three and Kohlschreiber one. While the statistics suggest Thiem and Kohlschreiber will struggle to win this week, none of their opposition have shown any signs this season that they are playing well enough to stop them reaching Saturday’s final and on that basis I will avoid this tournament from a betting perspective.
The Swiss Open in Gstaad is played at altitude and judging by past winners it takes an experienced clay courter to be able to handle the quicker conditions. The top-two seeds have a poor record winning only one of the last ten titles (last 2010) and they were a losing finalist only twice in this period (last 2015), which does not bode well for top-seed Feliciano Lopez or second seed Simon’s chances this week. Seeded players in general do perform well, they’ve won six of the last ten titles (last 2015) and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist six times in this period (last 2015).
Unseeded players also have a good record at Gstaad winning four of the last ten titles (last 2014) and they were a losing finalist four times during this period (last 2014). In the top-half of the draw Juan Monaco (25/1) has been playing well enough recently and this season, especially on clay, to suggest he can challenge for the title this week. Monaco is a vastly experienced pro, knows what it takes to succeed at Gstaad having reached the final in 2014 and won the title at Houston earlier this season, which has notoriously quick conditions for a clay court tournament like Gstaad. If he can produce anywhere near that level of form this week he will be difficult to stop reaching Sunday’s final.
Fifth seed Guido Pella (10/1) helped Argentina beat Italy in the Davis Cup at the weekend, reached the final at Buenos Aires on clay earlier this year and quarter-finals at Bucharest and Nice and, if he continues to play at this level and improve, he also has a great chance of reaching Sunday’s final. The bottom half of the draw looks far more competitive on paper with the likes of second seed Simon, Bastad winner and third seed this week Ramos-Vinolas, Bastad finalist and sixth seed Verdasco and the experienced veteran and eighth seed Mathieu all lining up for a shot at the title this week and with that in mind I will leave this section alone from a betting perspective.
The Croatian Open in Umag has attracted a competitive field this week with 2014 winner, Hamburg finalist and top-seed this week Cuevas, Hamburg winner and seventh seed Klizan, last year’s beaten finalist and second seed this week Sousa, eighth seed Vesely and the likes of in-form clay courters this season Almagro and Carreno-Busta all lining up for a shot at the title. The top two seeds have not got a great record at Umag winning four of the last ten titles between them (two each and last time 2012) and they were a losing finalist only once in this period (last time 2014), which does not bode well for Cuevas or Sousa’s chances this week.
However, seeded players in general do have a good record and a player seeded no higher than six won eight of the last ten titles (last 2015) and a player seeded no higher than five was a losing finalist seven times in this period (last 2014). Unseeded players have experienced some success at Umag over the last decade winning two of the last ten titles (last 2014) and they were a losing finalist three times in this period (last 2015).
Sixth seed Carreno-Busta (16/1) has had a good clay court season reaching two finals at Sao Paulo and Estoril so far and if he can repeat that level of form will be difficult to beat this week. Eighth seed Jiri Vesely (14/1) is well at home on clay and reached his first ATP Final on the surface last year at Bucharest. He reached the semi-finals at Casablanca and quarter-finals at Istanbul earlier in the season and his quarter of the draw looks more than winnable before a potential semi-final showdown against potential opponents Sousa, Klizan or possibly Mayer, whom he’s more than capable of beating on his day.