ATP Tour Week 18 Preview: Kohlschrieber can come through strong Munich field

Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic
Even a gift of a draw doesn't inspire confidence in Marin Cilic at prices...

There are three more clay tournaments this week on the ATP Tour, all at the lower 250 level, as players continue their preparations for the May Masters events and the French Open. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, looks at which players have the potential for a decent week...

"Perhaps the best bet is Kohlschreiber in quarter four. The unseeded German has a tough opener, facing Ivo Karlovic, although conditions are not likely to be the big-serving Croat's liking, and he has better clay data in the last 12 months than his seeded rival in the quarter, Bautista-Agut."

A week's rest for Nadal gives the rest of the tour a chance

The tennis tour gets a week off from the Rafa Nadal juggernaut, with the Spaniard defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of Barcelona yesterday afternoon to make it two tournaments in two weeks without dropping a set. In fact, this now makes it 46 sets that he's won in a row on his favourite surface, and his return data, where he's broken opponents almost 50% on clay in the last 12 months, and created an unprecedented 1.04 break point chances per game, far eclipses anything that any of his rivals can offer.

A weak field greets Cilic and Bedene in Istanbul

Certainly, in the low-profile events this week, there are no players remotely close to this level, and action gets underway at 10:00 UK time this morning in Istanbul, with Marin Cilic, Andreas Seppi, Aljaz Bedene and Damir Dzumhur the seeds with byes. Of these, Seppi (despite decent results of late) and Dzumhur do not have impressive data, with Cilic and the Budapest semi-finalist, Bedene, having much better numbers.

Conditions in Turkey are likely to be medium-slow, with 75.7% of service games held in the last three years (1.4% below the 77.1% ATP clay mean in this time period), giving slight bias towards the return-orientated players in the draw. Looking at the unseeded players with potential for a good run, there really isn't an abundance of talent, or many with over 100% combined hold/break percentage on clay in the last 12 months, with the out-of-form Viktor Troicki and the Brazilian, Rogerio Dutra Da Silva, being the best of a bad bunch.

Both are in Bedene's third quarter, but the Slovenian will be a strong favourite against either of this duo. Cilic has a gift draw in the top half of the draw but odds not much in excess of even money do not inspire. Bedene at around 7/1 is more generous, while the long-shot duo of Troicki and Dutra Da Silva at around the 25/1 mark may be of interest to some readers.

Carreno-Busta a worthy favourite in Estoril

Player level in Estoril, Portugal, is a little higher, with three of the four seeds - Kevin Anderson, Kyle Edmund and Pablo Carreno-Busta - being solid on the dirt, and there are a number of unseeded players very competent on the surface as well.

It is likely that conditions here will be largely similar to that in Istanbul, from a court speed perspective, with 75.4% of service games held at the venue in the last three years, and when looking at the draw, the obvious first impression is that Carreno-Busta has the draw of his dreams, with a first-round bye and then either Nicolas Kicker or a qualifier standing in his way of a quarter-final spot. He also has the weakest top four seed, Gilles Muller, in his half of the draw.

However, at general market prices of 7/2, it's tough to consider him much value given the depth of this field.

Difficult to justify Zverev price in Munich

Finally, in Munich, service hold percentages at the event are identical to Estoril, and conditions appear markedly different to those around five years ago, when hold percentages in the low-80s were commonplace.

All four seeds have solid chances of progressing deep into the tournament and are evidently the best players in the draw, and there are a number of dangerous, unseeded, floaters in the draw, including Jan-Lennard Struff, Martin Klizan, Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini, Guido Pella and Phillip Kohlschreiber. Perhaps the players have missed a trick not going for very slightly lower prize money in Turkey, with a much weaker draw.

Alexander Zverev is the heavy tournament favourite, but the young German's clay data (108.8% combined hold/break percentage in the last 12 months) is certainly in the good, but not great, bracket.

With this in mind, he doesn't look decent value at all, despite the likely heavy home support, and although his top quarter isn't stacked with talent, there is an abundance in the second quarter - his potential semi-final opponents - with Chung, Klizan and Monfils all capable of giving him a big test at that stage.

Unseeded Kohlschreiber worth considering in competitive event

Of the other players in the draw, I like Diego Schwartzman's chances in quarter three - he has better surface data than rivals Fognini and Pella - although two consecutive 6-2 6-1 defeats (creating a solitary one break point chance) can certainly not be viewed as a positive, and is a huge worry.

Perhaps the best bet is Kohlschreiber in quarter four. The unseeded German has a tough opener, facing Ivo Karlovic, although conditions are not likely to be the big-serving Croat's liking, and he has excellent clay numbers in the last 12 months - better than his seeded rival in the quarter, Bautista-Agut.

At current general market odds of around 12/1, Kohlschreiber looks the best outright bet in the field, and also the week.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

Back Phillip Kohlschreiber at around 12/1 to win ATP Munich

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