ATP Tour Week 29 Preview: Cuevas a threat to weak field in Umag
After the glamour of Wimbledon it's back to regular ATP Tour action this week, but our tennis columnist Dan Weston searches for the betting value in both events regardless...
"The Uruguayan, Cuevas, hasn't pulled up any trees on his favourite surface this year, and looks on the wane a little at the age of 32, but his 8-8 record on clay this year treats him badly - his combined 104.7% serve/return points won percentage is a rival for any in this event."
Djokovic win over Anderson predictable in nature
Yesterday's Wimbledon final predictably went the way of Novak Djokovic, with the Serb triumphing over Kevin Anderson in straight sets, and covering the -5.5 game handicap with absolute ease. The brutal nature of Grand Slams was demonstrated aptly by Anderson having very little left in the tank after two extremely lengthy matches, and again illustrates why top players should do everything in their power to avoid this.
Top players on the whole - there are exceptions - are generally pretty aware of the effects on their bodies of a lengthy Slam campaign, though, and this is clear from the entry lists into this week's events, with none of the top ten entering the three 250 level tournaments that we have to get our teeth into during the coming seven days.
Seeds likely to thrive in Newport
Two of the events are on clay, as the European season resumes, while we have one final grass tournament, in Newport. This is a curiously scheduled event, with few matches today, on the opening day, before the remainder of the first and second rounds are crammed into Tuesday and Wednesday. They then have two quarter finals on each of Thursday and Friday, a schedule which is unique across the ATP Tour.
The four seeds with byes all perform well on grass and are towards the front of the outright market, with all of Adrian Mannarino, Matt Ebden, Mischa Zverev and Steve Johnson available at either 6/1 or 7/1 with the Sportsbook.
Veterans with a solid grass track record
Other options worthy of a mention include some veterans who are comfortable on grass, such as Gilles Muller, at 10/1, although the man from Luxembourg hasn't demonstrated 100% fitness of late, and has announced his retirement at the end of the season. In addition, Ivo Karlovic (12/1), Marcos Baghdatis (14/1) and Nicolas Mahut (22/1) all have a decent track record on the surface.
Mannarino has decent grass data but has a tricky-looking quarter with Baghdatis or Muller scheduled to meet him in the quarter-finals, but the bottom two quarters look very weak indeed.
Ebden with a strong chance on his favourite surface
Matt Ebden's third quarter is a gift and only Mahut, who has had a dire grass season, looks likely to be a major obstacle to him reaching the latter stages. You'd have had to offer me large odds on me tipping Ebden to win a main tour ATP level event at the start of the season, but the Australian man adores grass and couldn't have hand-picked an easier quarter. If Ebden was around 8/1 or bigger, I'd really like him here.
Cecchinato a bizarre favourite in Umag
Moving onto the clay events, in the slow conditions of Umag, Andrey Rublev, Marco Cecchinato and Damir Dzumhur benefit from byes as the top three seeds - it looks like top seed Kyle Edmund has pulled out - and I almost fell off my chair when I saw Cecchinato chalked up as the 9/2 favourite with the Sportsbook.
This is a guy who was almost incapable of winning an ATP Tour match until this year, and I'm not remotely convinced by his freak run to the French Open semi-finals - players at almost 26 years of age rarely have dramatic career turnarounds.
As with Newport, the bottom half of the draw looks weakest, and Cecchinato shouldn't be a strong favourite over the likes of Pablo Cuevas or Albert Ramos, for sure.
Cuevas capable of a strong run against this field
The Uruguayan, Cuevas, hasn't pulled up any trees on his preferred surface this year, and looks on the wane a little at the age of 32, but his 8-8 record on clay this year treats him badly - his combined 104.7% serve/return points won percentage is a rival for any in this event, and taking him at 9/1 can be considered.
I'm not even put off by him losing in the quarter-finals last week on clay in the Braunschweig Challenger, with him creating nine break points in his loss to Jozef Kovalik, who took four of his five chances - at least he will be competitively adjusted to the surface, as opposed to others who come straight from grass.
Gasquet with a strong chance in Bastad
Over in Bastad, the tournament has a reputation for being the party event on tour and it's often questionable how seriously the bigger names take it. The seeds with byes are Diego Schwartzman, Richard Gasquet, Fabio Fognini and Pablo Carreno-Busta, and it's worth noting that no player really has a continual track record in this event, although Fernando Verdasco has made several finals.
Gasquet and Schwartzman benefit from very kind draws in the top half of the draw, and in fact only Leonardo Mayer, David Ferrer and the aforementioned Verdasco, perhaps adding in Federico Delbonis if he is on his game, look major unseeded threats.
I quite like Gasquet here at 9/2, with the Frenchman having solid short and medium term clay data, as well as a gift opening round against Gerald Melzer or a qualifier, and it's difficult to see a declining Ferrer giving him a huge test in a scheduled quarter-final, despite the Spaniard also having a fairly decent track record in this event.
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