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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tennis Outright Picks July 18th-24th

The draws have been released from the tournaments taking place at Hamburg and at Atlanta this week as the ATP rolls on.

The tournament in Atlanta represents the start of the American Summer hard court swing, while Hamburg is an important 500 event for the clay courters.

ATP Atlanta
Atlanta will welcome back the two finalists from last season, Mardy Fish and John Isner, as the top two seeds in a 28 man draw.

Overall, I have to be honest in saying it is not the best set of players that have got together for this tournament, and that is highlighted by the fact that the likes of Somdev Devvarman and Alex Bogomolov Jr are actually seeded.

Mardy Fish is the reigning Champion here and he looks in a very strong position to get back to the Final at the very least. Fish was disappointed in being beaten in both Rubbers in the Davis Cup by the Spanish team, but he has had over a week to recharge his batteries for this event.

The top American has really been in decent nick since he lost weight and found renewed focus on his tennis. He is given a bye into the 2nd Round so is likely not due in action until Wednesday, giving him further rest from the Davis Cup exploits, and will only need to win 3 matches to reach the Final for a 2nd year in succession.

And those 3 matches should not be that taxing if Fish is indeed motivated for this tournament. It is likely that he would need to beat Nicolas Mahut, while the likes of Devvarman or Ryan Sweeting would be a Quarter Final opponent.

The biggest danger may come from Xavier Malisse in the Semi Finals, although the Belgian is in a tough looking section with the dangers of Lleyton Hewitt and Grigor Dimitrov lurking.

With winning records against a lot of the players in this section, I see no reason to doubt Mardy Fish being in contention at the end of the week.

It would also not be a huge surprise if John Isner is once again the opponent for Fish on Sunday. Isner will get a lot of local support being a graduate of the University of Georgia but does have a tough looking 2nd Round match against either James Blake or Ernests Gulbis while it is also likely that the dangerous Kevin Anderson or Gilles Muller could wait in the Semi Finals.

Both Isner and Fish have been priced at very similar prices, and I just feel the defending Champion has the easier route and is the better option to take.

ATP Hamburg
The tournament in Germany this week is actually an ATP 500 Event and the last major clay court tournament of the season. That doesn't mean you can expect to see many of the top players in action, most of those getting ready for the hard court swing in North America and therefore missing tournaments until August.

The only top 10 player in action this week is Gael Monfils but I would very much avoid backing this player to win tournaments with the amount of inconsistency he throws around.

Much like Stuttgart last week, a lot of question marks can be placed over the seeded players this week and the prices show that with 8-1 being the starting price of Monfils and Gilles Simon as the favourites.

I can look at almost every seeded player in this draw and have some reservations about their ability to win the tournament. Automatically I ruled out the likes of Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, Jurgen Melzer, Fabio Fognini, Florian Mayer and Janko Tipsarevic all for reasons of lack of form, ability on the surface and mental ability to win 5-6 matches for a tournament.

Nicolas Almagro intrigued me but he faces Potito Starace in the next round before a seeded match with Albert Montanes, both players that have strong head to head records against him.

One name who did interest me here at the prices is the big Croatian Marin Cilic- Cilic is placed in the top half of the draw, arguably the easier half, and may just make a mockery of the 33-1 being offered on him.

There are again doubts surrounding Cilic, like many others. He has been out of form and has been struggling with a couple of niggles while the serve has been letting him down far too much considering his size and natural talent.

However, his better performances have come on the clay courts and he has reached 2 Quarter Finals on the surface this season, at Munich and at Rome.

The draw has also been kinder to Cilic than many others- he is likely to face Ivan Dodig in the 2nd Round before being seeded to meet Juan Ignacio Chela. Chela has had a solid season, but he is not the same player as a few years ago and I would fancy Cilic to get the job done, even if it had to go 3 sets.

The Quarter Final could see Cilic face Mikhail Youzhny or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but both of those players are in a tough section and instead there could be a surprise in seeing Carlos Berlocq come through, a player Cilic beat in Rome.

I wouldn't want anyone reading this to get me wrong- there are plenty of question marks surrounding Cilic himself, but 33-1 looks far too big in a field where many others have just as many issues surrounding their game and might just give us a run for our money.

Mardy Fish @ 3.75 Stan James (2 Units E/W)
Marin Cilic @ 34.0 Stan James (0.5 Units E/W)

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