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Monday, 3 February 2014

Tennis Outright Picks 2014 (February 3-9)

It is not the first time that I have noticed that the layers are very non-commital when it comes to put up full markets on Davis Cup ties, although I have no idea why not considering it is the same best of five set format for the Grand Slam tournaments. That meant that I decided to skip the action this weekend in terms of making picks, but I was satisfied to see Switzerland move through to the Quarter Finals of the tournament.

The Swiss look the clear favourites to come through the bottom half of the draw as long as both Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka commit to the team for the rest of the season and I can't see any real reason why they wouldn't. Federer will not have too many better chances to win the Davis Cup, especially with Spain out of the tournament, and I think Switzerland won't be intimidated by any team left in the World Group.

One team that is surprisingly still in the tournament are Great Britain and I have to give them full credit for beating the United States away from home. I have openly questioned Jim Courier's decision to play on the clay courts on Twitter as I think that took away his own players strengths and cost the United States the chance to move through as they were expected to.

Of course I can't blame Courier for the collapse that Sam Querrey had in the second rubber against James Ward, but do I think the big man's serve would have helped him out of his tense moments on an indoor hard court more than a clay court... Yes I do.

Either way, Andy Murray won his two rubbers as expected and Great Britain will face a tough challenge in Italy next, although there is a chance for another surprise if Andreas Seppi is still not finding his full form at that point.

This week, we have the regular ATP Tour return to action as it hits spots in Montpellier, Zagreb and Vina Del Mar, while the WTA Tour takes a week off for the Fed Cup ties to be played at the end of the week. We have a few of the Davis Cup players back in action, so watch out for those surface changes, and below I have my outright picks for the week after the Australian Open provided a return to form to some extent.

ATP Montpellier
Both Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils have won this tournament in the last three years and it is no surprise that both are leading the market to take the title home this week after helping France crush Australia in the Davis Cup over the weekend.

Out of these two players, you would have to say that Monfils has the more difficult path as well as not getting the chance to enjoy a bye through to the Second Round, but I also think this Frenchman has shown some more belief in his own abilities in the early weeks of the new season.

A focused Monfils would likely be too good for his first two opponents and he has winning records against both Denis Istomin and Dmitry Tursunov who are the potential Quarter Final opponents, while the home support should be critical in getting beyond either of those players.

Two potential threats to Monfils could be home hopes Michael Llodra, who loves playing indoor hard court tennis, especially at home, while the other is Gilles Simon who has a 4-1 head to head record against Monfils. However, the latter has only recently returned from what looked a serious issue that almost cost him his place at the Australian Open, while Llodra, who reached the Semi Final here twelve months ago, has had a hard time dealing with Monfils' athleticism.

I would guess Richard Gasquet can come through the top half of the draw, especially as the defending Champion here, but someone like Jerzy Janowicz has the personality to intimidate and disrupt the top seed, although the Polish player has been out of form in recent months due to injuries.

Nikolay Davydenko and Julien Benneteau are other players that could cause a surprise for the Number 1 seed, but Gasquet definitely looks like the player with the clearest picture to the Final.

He was crushed by Monfils when they met in Doha earlier this season, where Gasquet was also defending a title, but the 'easier' route to the Final may give the top French player the edge in this if there is a repeat.

If Monfils falters through his draw, Gasquet has a strong record against other potential opponents and I will have a small interest in him winning this tournament in back to back seasons.

The other two tournaments played this week look a little tougher to call when it comes to the outright markets. The tournament in Zagreb looks incredibly bottom heavy, while the top half of that draw has too many players with uncertainties about them that it looks a tough event to pick at this point.

In Vina Del Mar, the first of the South American clay court swing tournaments produced the surprise of last season when Horacio Zeballos beat Rafael Nadal in the Final. The Argentine is back to defend his title, but there are other names in the market that look much more likely winners but uncertainties about emotional state of minds (Fabio Fognini who won two tough rubbers for Italy in the Davis Cup this week) and physical capabilities (Tommy Robredo) with some other tough players means I will avoid this market too.

MY PICK: Richard Gasquet @ 3.75 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Season 2014- 2.67 Units (155 Units Staked, - 1.72% Yield)

Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

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