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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


Before I provide my analysis and review of this week’s ATP Tournaments I’ll provide a quick recap of the French Open. The 2017 French Open was an historic on two fronts. Firstly, with Elena Ostapenko becoming the first ever unseeded player to win the women’s title in its history and secondly Nadal extending his tournament win record to ten titles, which takes him within one Grand Slam of matching the overall record held by Margaret Court who won 11 Australian Championships and Opens between 1960 and 1973.

Ostapenko’s win was truly astonishing considering she had never won a WTA title prior to Roland Garros and how she came back from the brink of defeat on more than one occasion, including the final against Halep when she was a set and 3-0 down and saved break points to stave off going a double break and 4-0 down, was extremely impressive. Nadal’s performance during the tournament and in the final against Wawrinka (advised 12/1) was devastating and it harked back to the years when he dominated the event between 2005 and 2014. He never dropped a set this year and lost only five games in the final against the third ranked player in the world.

The French Open brings to a close the first half of the European Clay Court season and the ATP tour now switches to the grass courts of Europe in the lead up to the third Grand Slam of the season at Wimbledon. The transition from clay to grass has proved to be a difficult one for many players on the ATP and WTA Tours and over the last six years if you had opposed the top 5 seeds at all grass tournaments you would have shown a handsome profit.

On to this week's ATP action and there are two grass court events, the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany and the Ricoh Open, in s-Hertogenbosch, Holland. Dominic Thiem does not return to defend the Stuttgart title this year, but world number five, top-seed and 2016 semi-finalist Roger Federer returns to the ATP Tour after missing the European clay court swing and French Open. He proved a lay off is no handicap when he returned after 6 months off to win the Australian Open and Indian Wells and Miami Master 1000 Series this year and he will have plenty of supporters this week and for Wimbledon, which commences in four weeks-time.

However, historical statistics don’t support a Federer win this week as the top-seed has not performed well at Stuttgart over the last decade winning only two of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2015) and they were never a losing finalist in this period. The second seed also has a poor record having never won the title over the last decade and they were a losing finalist only twice in this period (last 2013), which does not bode well for Dimitrov’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have performed well over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five won six of the last ten titles (last Thiem seeded 3 2016), including the last four seasons, and a player seeded no higher than eight was a losing finalist six time over the last decade (last Kohlschreiber seeded 7 2016). Unseeded players have experienced some success over the last decade as well as winning three of the last ten titles (last 2012) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist three times over the last decade (last 2014).

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest a player seeded three or five has the best chance of winning Stuttgart this week and at the prices fifth seed Johnson (16/1) is worth siding with from the bottom half of the draw. Eighth seed Troicki (40/1) reached the Stuttgart final in 2015 losing to Nadal and at the odds he’s worth siding with again this year.

At s-Hertogenbosch defending champion, three time winner (2016, 15 and 13) and seventh seed Mahut returns to defend his title as does 2016 finalist and fourth seed Muller. The top-two seeds have a poor record over the last decade, which does not bode well for top-seed Cilic’s and second seed Zverev’s chances this week. The top-seed has won only two of the last ten titles (last 2012) and they were never a losing finalist in this period and the second seed won one of the last ten titles (last 2007) and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last Goffin 2015).

Seeded players have a good record at s-Hertogenbosch and a player seeded no higher than three won five of the last ten titles (last Mahut seeded 8 2016) and a player seeded no higher than seven was a losing finalist five times over the last decade (last Muller seeded 7 2016). Unseeded players also have a good record at s-Hertogenbosch winning five of the last ten titles (last Qualifier 2015) and they were a losing finalist five times during this period (last Unseeded 2013).

From a betting perspective veteran Mahut (10/1) has to be respected again this year given his imperious record (won 18 of his last 20 matches). Qualifiers have reached five of the last ten finals at s-Hertogenbosch, winning three titles, and there are a couple of qualifiers that catch the eye and could challenge for the title this week. Pospisil (price tbc) is a serve and volleyer, he has form on grass, the advantage of a few competitive matches under his belt already and at his best he’s beaten the likes of world number one Murray using aggressive serve and volley play in the past. NextGen star Medvedev’s (price tbc) game is well suited to grass as he proved again coming through qualifying at the weekend beating experienced players like Ram and Smyczek and if he can bring that form to the main draw he has a decent chance of springing a surprise this week.


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