ATP Tour Week 8 Preview: Benneteau a tasty each-way option in favourable home conditions...

Marin Cilic makes a rare foray into South American clay...
Marin Cilic makes a rare foray into South American clay...
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There are a further three tournaments this week on the ATP Tour, and as last week, they are split across three continents on several surfaces. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, runs the numbers to assess the value on week eight of the 2018 season...

"The declining Julien Benneteau, at 80/1, has a good record indoors, and doesn't have the toughest draw in the weak top half of the field, and lost a narrow match a fortnight ago to Ricardas Berankis, despite recording more break point chances on return. He can be chanced each-way for a small stake."

Injury doubts over the seeds in Marseille

This week sees the last European tournament, and last indoor hard event, for several months, as the European tour moves towards the Americas until mid-April. Marseille is the setting for this indoor tournament, and is a 250 level event with the four top seeds receiving byes to the second round.

These beneficiaries are David Goffin, Tomas Berdych, Lucas Pouille and Stan Wawrinka, although fitness doubts beset all of these, with the possible exception of Pouille, who was justifiably tired last week in Rotterdam following his victory in Montpellier.

Wawrinka with much to prove in quick conditions

With this in mind, it's probably not surprising that Pouille shares favourite status for the event with the Sportsbook, although the fact that it's with Stan Wawrinka - never a fan of tournaments played in quicker conditions, and lost to the unheralded wild-card Tallon Griekspoor last week - is perhaps more of a shock.

On the subject of conditions, 81.7% of service games were held at the venue in the last three years, a figure which is 1.4% above the ATP surface mean. Furthermore, 0.65 aces per game were generated, also well in excess of the ATP indoor hard average, which stands at 0.57.

It's evident that conditions are fast-medium in Marseille, and should derive some benefit for more serve-orientated players, and a look through the winners list shows this is often the case, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga having particular success in the event, as well as the lower-profile big-server Michael Llodra, prior to his retirement.

Benneteau a long-shot option at a huge price

Of the unseeded players with chances, Roberto Bautista-Agut is priced at 9/1, but may find conditions a little quick for his liking, while Daniil Medvedev still needs to find the consistency to go with his talent, and looks a little short at 16/1.

Perhaps Maximilian Marterer, at 66/1, could be a long-shot with potential - he is serve-orientated, and has the ability to be much better than his main tour results, although could be tired after winning the Cherbourg Challenger today. Another interesting player to consider is Gilles Muller, if the man from Luxembourg is fit. Assuming this, he'd have a chance of making a mockery of the 22/1 about him, in conditions which should be to his liking.

The declining Julien Benneteau, at 80/1, has a good record indoors still, and doesn't have the toughest draw in the weak top half of the field. He lost a narrow match a fortnight ago to Ricardas Berankis in Montpellier, despite recording more break point chances on return. He can be chanced each-way for a small stake.

Big-servers historically dominate event in Delray Beach

Over in the US, the Delray Beach tournament starts on Monday, played on outdoor hard court, with conditions anticipated to be medium-slow, with service hold and aces per game numbers below the ATP hard court average.

Despite this, players who prefer quicker conditions dominate the list of finalists in recent years, with Jack Sock defending his title, following his walkover victory over Milos Raonic in last year's final. Intriguingly, they meet in the first round, and their top quarter of the draw also features John Isner, as well as a number of competent players on the surface, including Reilly Opelka, Peter Gojowcyzk and Ryan Harrison.

This tournament has often featured a random lower-profile player in the final, with Rajeev Ram, Donald Young, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Marinko Matosevic and Evgeny Korolov all having been runner-up. With the ATP Tour producing many more shock results in the last year or so, compared to recent years, it wouldn't be a particular surprise if this trend continues.

Del Potro in gift fourth quarter

Juan Martin Del Potro has received an absolute gift of a draw, with his main threats in the bottom quarter coming from Hyeon Chung and Jeremy Chardy, and the Argentine is chalked up at 7/2 second favourite, behind Nick Kyrgios. Chung, at 8/1, does look short despite his obvious potential level - he's not played since retiring in the Australian Open semi-finals.

It's quite tough to know where to go here from an outright perspective. Looking at the list of players, sorted by combined hold/break percentages, Adrian Mannarino looks an outlier at 40/1, but the Frenchman is in a tricky-looking third quarter, which features few easy matches. Anyone desperate to have an interest in the event could consider him, but I'd rather move on to the final event of the week in Brazil.

Cilic among big names attracted to 500 event in Brazil

The tournament in Rio de Janeiro is this week's sole 500 level event, and thus has attracted a number of decent names in the draw, including Marin Cilic - whose entry is a little strange - Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem.

Conditions are expected to be slow, with a mere 75% of service games being held in the last three years, with clay court specialists dominating the tournament finalists in the last four years. Only Alexandr Dolgopolov, who lost to Rafa Nadal here in 2014, would be considered more of an all-courter.

Ramos with a decent draw at double-digit odds

Therefore, finding a return-orientated natural clay courter seems to be the task here, with Albert Ramos (quarter two) and Fabio Fognini (quarter three) interesting prospects. Both have excellent records on slow clay, but Fognini was mediocre last week in defeat to Leonardo Mayer, and barely has above a 100% combined hold/break percentage.

Ramos is 14/1 and with that nice draw, looks a decent option. I'd prefer the market-leading 16/1 about the Spaniard, but I'd much rather back him at those prices than the likes of Fernando Verdasco and the aforementioned Fognini at half the price.

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