It was a case of close but no cigar again for my outright tournament tips last week as Berdych (9/1), Carreno-Busta (11/1) and Klizan (Second quarter winner Rotterdam 18/1) all came close to returning a profit when reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively. Sixth seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga bounced back to form beating the unlucky David Goffin to lift the ATP 500 title at Rotterdam yesterday, which was Tsonga’s first title since winning Metz back in 2015.
Alexander Dolgopolov also returned to form at Buenos Aires beating world number five Nishikori in the final, which was his first ATP title win since Washington back in 2012 and Harrison comfortably won the battle of the outsiders (6-1, 6-4) against Basilashvili to take the Memphis Open final.
On to this week’s ATP action and it’s a busy one once again with three events including another European indoor event at Marseille, France, the first outdoor North American hard court event of the season at Delray Beach and the ATP 500 clay court event in the sunny realms of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We will start in Europe at Marseille and this year’s field is not as strong as in previous years with only one top 10 player in the line-up, 2015 finalist and top-seed Monfils. French players have performed well at Marseille with five winners over the last decade, including second seed, 2013 and 2009 winner, Tsonga and 2015 and 2007 winner Simon, who is seeded seven this week.
The top two seeds surprisingly have a poor record at Marseille over the last decade and the top seed has won the title only once over the last decade (2011) and has been a losing finalist once in this period (2013), which does not bode well for Monfils’s chances this week. The second seed has never won the title over the last decade and was a losing finalist once in this period (2014), which does not bode well for Tsonga’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general have performed well at Marseille over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five has won seven of the last ten titles (last fifth seed Simon 2015) and a seeded player seeded no higher than eight has been a losing finalist six times over the last decade (last fourth seed Cilic 2016). Unseeded players have also performed well at Marseille over the last decade winning three titles (last Kyrgios 2016) and they were a losing finalist four times in this period (last Llodra 2012).
The top half of the draw looks fairly open with Monfils unlikely to win judging by past statistics for the top-seed and sixth seed Gasquet could be fatigued having played back-to-back and non-stop this month. With French players performing well here in the past eight seed Beniot Paire (33/1) has to be respected. He’s come close to reaching two finals already this year at Chennai and Montpellier losing at the semi-final stage at both events and if he can maintain that level of form and improve on it this week he has every chance of reaching Sunday’s final.
Jan Lennard Struff’s (50/1) game is well suited to indoors; he’s already won two indoor challenger tournaments in France during his career and beaten a number of top-class players indoors like Mahut, Janowicz, Simon and Wawrinka as well. If he can reproduce that level of form this week he could easily spring a surprise at big odds. In the bottom half of the draw defending champion and third seed Nick Kyrgios (5/1) has to be respected again this year. He won the title last year without dropping a set beating the likes of Gasquet, Berdych and Cilic en route to the title and a repeat of that level of form this week will make him extremely difficult to beat.
Over in North America at Delray Beach we have the first outdoor hard court tournament of the season. Surprisingly home grown players don’t have a good record with only two winners hailing from the USA over the last decade (Fish 2009 and Querrey 2016) and two losing finalists during this period (qualifier Nishikori 2008 and unseeded Young 2015). Fourth seed and defending champion Sam Querrey returns, but will face a stern challenge to the defence of his title with top-seed Raonic and seventh seed and 2011 winner Del Potro in the top-half of the draw with him.
The top two seeds have a poor record at Delray Beach and the top seed has won one of the last ten titles (Fish 2009) and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (Blake 2007 and Blake 2008), which does not bode well for Raonic’s chances this week. The second seed has never won the title over the last decade and they were a losing finalist once in this period (Karlovic 2010), which does not bode well for Karlovic’s chances this week.
Seeded players in general have performed well at Delray Beach over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than seven has won five of the last ten titles (last fourth seed Karlovic 2015) and a seeded player no higher than six was a losing finalist six times in this period (last fourth seed Anderson 2014). There has also been a handful of surprise winners and finalists over the last decade and an unseeded player has won five titles over the last decade (last Querrey 2016) and there were five losing finalists in this period (last Ram 2016).
Seventh seed and 2011 winner Del Potro has to be respected this week even though he has not played competitively since helping Argentina win the Davis Cup at the end of November. However, the lay-off is still a concern and with a tricky opener against Anderson and Querrey and Raonic in his half of the draw I will wait for a better opportunity to side with him. Third seed Jack Sock (11/2) has already won an ATP 250 title this year at Auckland and as he’s in such good form he’s worth siding with this week.
As unseeded players have performed so well at Delray Beach over the last decade its worth highlighting a couple of players that could go well at a big price this week. Taylor Fritz (40/1) is worth siding with again this week as he usually plays well on home soil and has the game to challenge for the title this week.
As the ATP 500 Rio is a new tournament with only three years history there’s not a huge amount of historical data to help analyse the draw so I’ll just give a couple of selections based on form and ability at this level. Fourth seed and Buenos Aires semi-finalist Carreno-Busta (12/1) is a multiple ATP 250 tournament winner and is worth following again this week as he should improve further after a week playing on clay for the first time this year. Diego Schwartzman (40/1) has won a clay court title at this level and if he produces his best form this week should go close to reaching the final.
From a match betting and trading perspective this week there are a few selections I like that will hopefully return a profit. At Delray Beach qualifier Steve Darcis has been in good form of late and could catch the out of form Tomic cold in the first round. At Rio de Janeiro top-seed and Buenos Aires losing finalist Kei Nishikori (1.25) is worth opposing against home hope Bellucci who has caued top class players problem in the past on clay. Theres also a first round match Double I like featuring Dzumhur to beat Kravchuk and Karlovic to beat Young, which can be backed around 2.3.