Following are my thoughts for this week’s ATP and WTA tournaments, all played on Clay, in preparation for the upcoming French Open, taking place from 24th May. A few smaller tournaments this week before the Madrid Open next week which will see all the big names in one place.
ATP ISTANBUL OPEN :
Favourites: Federer and Dimitrov
This tournament could definitely come down to one of these two. While Federer lost early in Monte Carlo after beating Chardy, Dimitrov had wins against Verdasco, Fognini and Wawrinka which was good to see.
Interestingly, both players fell to Monfils.
Three players come to mind as outsiders here, and they are Cuevas, Kukushkin and Gimeno Traver. Out of these, Cuevas is definitely the best bet if you are going for an outright shot as he has been exemplary on clay throughout the season. Kukushkin has the talent but the question is more about his consistency, while Gimeno Traver has definitely stepped up his game in the last two clay court tourneys he’s played in.
ATP ESTORIL OPEN:
Favourites: Feliciano Lopez and Kevin Anderson
Even though Lopez lost in the early rounds of Clay court events like Houston and the more recent Barcelona tournament, he is technically a very sound clay courter and is the deserved favourite here. The same goes to the South African Kevin Anderson who played pretty well at Houston, only to lose to eventual winner Jack Sock.
The obvious outsiders look like Robredo, Leo Mayer and the recent Bucharest tournament winner, Garcia-Lopez.
However, the big surprise may come from one of the best players on Clay, Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman hasn’t played since his loss to Berrer at the Indian Wells tournament but he may be coming back at the right time to play on Clay, as the French Open is not too far away.
Favourites: Murray and Kohlschreiber
I feel one of these two must be good enough to win this tournament. Murray is the favourite here with price of around 3.0 on Betfair. But Kohlschreiber may offer the best outright bet with odds of more than 10 as he is a natural clay courter and more importantly, this is his home tournament!
While Agut deserves a lot of credit for his recent form on Clay, I am not sure if he is good enough to beat Murray here. Still, I feel he should be one of the outsiders. A couple of others worth the mention are the Belgian David Goffin and the Czech Jiri Vesely who is definitely improving on all surfaces. Kohlschreiber meets Vesely early on which will be interesting.
Favourites: Muguruza, Bacsinszky and Svitolina
These 3 players have improved enormously in recent times and I really think one of them ought to win. If I would pick one, I would go for Muguruza simply due to her very aggressive nature and consistency on Clay.
I have put Pennetta as an outsider here as I feel her serves have declined in the past year or so. Another outsider worth adding to this list is the ever aggressive Monica Puig who does possess decent serves.
Favourites: Safarova, Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova
All three are Czech players playing at home. It really has to be one of them to win here considering there are not many huge challengers to them here IN Prague.
The best outsider for my money is Belinda Bencic here, who recently beat Goerges at Stuttgart. The others include the ever defensive Monica Niculescu and local favourite Lucie Hradecka who has some stunning serves in her arsenal. If Hradecka can get past Safarova in the 2nd round assuming she gets past Pavlyuchenkova, I feel she could be a great bet here.
Thanks for reading!