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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Tennis Outright Picks (February 4-10)

After the first Grand Slam of the season, the ATP Tour took a week break for the First Round of the Davis Cup, which means we have three tournaments taking place this week in France, Croatia and Chile.

You can read a few of my thoughts on Andy Murray and the new up and coming WTA players after the Australian Open here

The big news is clearly the return of Rafa Nadal who has been given a Wild Card spot at the tournament in Chile- he has a bye in the First Round before we get to see the former World Number 1 play his first match since Wimbledon in June 2012. It is going to be very interesting to see how Nadal does as he takes in the South American clay court swing with stops in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil planned along with this one in Chile, but you have to believe he is ready.

Of course, Nadal has said the plan is not winning tournaments, but getting matches under his belt in preparation for the rest of the season, but playing on his favourite surface is going to be intimidating for anyone facing him.

Other top ten players in action this week include Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic and Richard Gasquet, all of whom are taking in the action in France on an indoor hard court.

ATP Open Sud de France (Montpellier)
This is the tournament with most of the big names taking part this week and it follows on the heels on Davis Cup action for a few of the players.

It is said Davis Cup action that has me thinking Tomas Berdych, the number 1 seed and the reigning defending Champion, is far too short in the market to be considered for retaining his title. Berdych was involved in the epic 7 hour Doubles match on Saturday and then had to negotiate a 4 hour win over Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday and even getting a bye into the Second Round may be enough for him to recover health to win through the tournament.

I have also ruled out the number 2 seeded Janko Tipsarevic from my selections as he is just recovering from a heel injury that forced him to retire at the Australian Open and miss the Serbia Davis Cup tie and there is no telling whether he truly is ready to go deep into a tournament just yet.

Instead, I am going for a small interest in Richard Gasquet to come through a tough top half of the tournament and win this event for a second time after previously being a winner when it was held in Lyon.

Gasquet has started the 2013 season in pretty good form and already has a tournament win to his name in Doha. However, he has potentially the toughest of Second Round challenges in the form of Gael Monfils, but if Gasquet can negotiate that, he will have a real chance of going all the way. The Frenchman also has a winning record against Berdych and could make the home fans very happy next Sunday.

ATP PBZ Zagreb
This is a tournament that had been won three years in a row by a Croatian before Mikhail Youzhny took home the title last season, but I do think we may revert to type this season.

Marin Cilic had won the event back to back in 2009 and 2010 and I think he does look the stand out player at the tournament this season and I can see him winning for the third time off the back of a couple of tough Davis Cup wins for his country.

The number 1 seed has a bye through to the Second Round, but I don't think there are too many players that he would fear on his way to the Final with the likes of Marcos Baghdatis and defending Champion Mikhail Youzhny the expected opponents.

Even the other half of the draw doesn't really have the players that should be able to beat Cilic when he is playing his best so I'll take a small interest in the Croatian winning his home tournament for the third time.

I have decided to take a watching brief at the tournament in Chile as I want to see Rafa Nadal in action- while there are some good players on the other side of the draw, I think it is actually tougher finding out which one will get through, although I guess Juan Monaco would be the call.

MY PICKS: Richard Gasquet @ 7.00 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Marin Cilic @ 3.75 Stan James (1 Unit)

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