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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tennis Outright Picks 2013 (April 8-14)

So we have got through the Davis Cup Quarter Finals and the early hard court part of the season and one of my favourite periods in the tennis season will begin this week- that's right, it is time for clay court action.

This is a quiet week in terms of big names as most will be saving themselves for the main run towards the French Open- the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will certainly include Monte Carlo in their scheduling, which begins next Sunday, while the WTA Tour has had a couple of their premier events back to back and so the main players that will be competing for the French Open title will not be in action this week.

All of this doesn't mean we can't learn anything from the tournaments taking place in Morocco, Poland and the United States and I think the events do provide some interest ahead of the first clay court Masters of the season.

ATP Morocco
This week we have two defending Champions in Morocco as Pablo Andujar looks to make it three in a row at this tournament, while the Number 1 seeded Stanislas Wawrinka returns to the event for the first time since winning it in 2010 in his first time in Morocco.

Stanislas Wawrinka certainly looks the player to beat this week and it is unsurprising that he has been set as the favourite considering how kind the draw has been for him. Even his absence since Indian Wells isn't really a worry as he did the same last season before reaching the Quarter Final at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The Swiss Number 2 certainly is very comfortable on the clay courts and has already reached the Final of an event on the surface earlier this season, although falling short against David Ferrer. He has a 64-31 on the clay courts, at ATP Main Tour level, in the last five seasons and he does look head and shoulders the best player in his half of the draw, after receiving a bye in the First Round.

I think Jurgen Melzer has shown a mini-resurgence in the last couple of tournaments he has played so he could pose problems as a possible Semi Final opponent, but the Austrian has not performed at his best on the clay courts over the last couple of seasons so I would fancy Wawrinka, with some matches under his belt, at that stage.

The big names on the other side of the draw to look out for this week are Kevin Anderson and Pablo Andujar, but I think there could be some benefit in backing Martin Klizan to find some form and perhaps make it through to the Final.

Klizan is the Number 3 seed here, but four consecutive losses on the Tour means he is a big outsider to win the tournament, but the Slovakian has certainly showed his ability on the clay courts over the last twelve months and could surprise. There is no doubt that he hasn't got the best draw with matches against Paul-Henri Mathieu and Robin Haase to come before any Semi Final against one of the other two big names in his half of the draw, but Klizan did win four Challenger tournaments on this surface last season as well as reaching the Final of another.

I will be honest and say that Klizan hasn't transferred that kind of form onto the Main Tour events on the clay courts just yet, but I think he is worth a small interest to find a bit of a run here.

ATP Houston
You can sometimes tell how good a field is by looking at the weakest seed in the draw and this week it is Michael Russell, although there are still some quality names in the draw.

However, it does mean that the top of the outright market is dominated by five players and I would be surprised if the winner of the tournament comes from outside of Nicolas Almagro, Tommy Haas, Sam Querrey, Juan Monaco or John Isner.

Personally I can't buy Juan Monaco's chances of defending his crown from last season in the form he has been to open up 2013, including a heavy loss in the Davis Cup on Sunday against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, although Monaco is certainly in the best Quarter of the draw.

In my mind, the Number 1 seed, Nicolas Almagro is the one most likely to win this tournament as he makes his first appearance here in Houston, even though the clay courts here tend to play faster than they do in Europe. However, as I have mentioned before, Almagro certainly has the style of play that can be transferred from the clay courts to the faster surfaces so I don't imagine he will be hindered as much as other players might be.

Almagro certainly has a tough opening match against the winner of the Gael Monfils-James Blake clash, but I would favour him to beat either on the clay, while the Spaniard has a strong winning record against Sam Querrey who is a potential Semi Final opponent.

One player that would certainly have been an awkward opponent a few months ago would have been Fernando Verdasco, but he has not been himself in recent weeks as he is supposedly suffering from some kind of neck issue. I would be surprised if Verdasco could move through to the Semi Final to play Almagro with the lack of form he has displayed, so backing the top seed and favourite will be my pick from this tournament.

MY PICKS: Stanislas Wawrinka @ 3.10 Coral (1 Unit)
Martin Klizan @ 21.00 Bet Victor (1 Unit E/W)

Nicolas Almagro @ 3.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)

Daily Picks2-1, + 1.54 Units (6 Units Staked, + 25.67% Yield)

Season 2013+ 48.57 Units (445 Units Staked, + 10.91% Yield)

Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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