ATP Hertogenbosch: Back grass court specialists in the Netherlands

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TENNIS analyst Gavin Mair (@gavinnightmair) returns with his best bets from this week’s Hertogenbosch Open.

ATP Hertogenbosch | 12th-18th June 2017 | Eurosport

Rafael Nadal topped off his dominant clay court form with a 10th French Open title on Sunday. The King of the Clay breezed through his draw overwhelming Stan Wawrinka in the final, who despite holding the biggest weaponry on the ATP tour failed to land a blow against the Spaniard.

The tour changes surface this week from clay to grass as the road to Wimbledon commences for the men’s players in Hertogenbosch and Stuttgart.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut has won three of the past four titles in Hertogenbosch, and he is joined in the draw by a strong group of players capable of finding success on the turf.

The tournament suffered three high profile withdrawals before the off in the form of David Goffin, Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet. It is a week where the bigger profile players won’t fancy taking too big a risk.

WeLoveBetting backers scooped a 14/1 winner from my last column when I tipped Jelena Ostapenko to come through her quarter at Roland Garros. The Latvian continued her inspired form by lifting the French Open title.

My statistical approach has scored big money returns this season – +94.025 units for this season to date. You can track my progress on my blog – https://gavinnightmair.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/atpwta-tennis- market-outright-tracker/

Using the same methods, let’s make some more money this week.

Quarter 1

The top seed this week is Marin Cilic. The Croatian played arguably his best ever clay court tennis this season and will arrive on his more favoured grass courts confident of doing some damage.

However, given Cilic’s recent run I don’t believe he will be aiming to peak this week on the grass. His record in ATP 250 tournaments on this surface is underwhelming and for that reason more than any he must be swerved this week.

However, there may be value in backing him over the coming weeks. Cilic should come through his quarter without expending too much energy, but with questionable motivations he is vulnerable to an upset. There are players that can beat him with a stretch of the imagination.

Yuichi Sugita won a grass court Challenger title last week in Surbiton and was more competitive on clay than was expected. His first round opponent is Janko Tipsarevic, who himself has decent recent form in Challengers and is better suited to grass than he is clay.

Vasek Pospisil qualified this week but despite his big serving game he’s struggled to put two and two together on grass. I will be interested to see if he can string it together this year.

Belgian Steve Darcis is the other seed in this quarter, and whilst he has plenty of craft to dance around the specialist surface his serve is likely to come under attack.

Alexandr Dolgopolov is an interesting proposition. He has made a 250 level semifinal from an unseeded position before. However, backing Dolgopolov is like playing Russian Roulette. He is under a permanent fitness cloud and is more likely than not to fall apart.

Quarter 2

Big serving Ivo Karlovic thrives on a grass court. In the past three seasons he has made at least one final at the ATP 250 level on this surface.

He hasn’t found success at this tournament, but a semi final showing here last season suggests it is not beyond his capabilities.

Dr Ivo is an absolute nightmare for his opponents when the grass season arrives with his serve an almost impossible lock to pick. In the past three seasons he is statistically close to holding his serve 100% of the time.

There are a couple of hazardous opponents in his path. Dustin Brown is another that could be classified as a grass court specialist, with his big serve and quirky groundstrokes a tasty recipe in these conditions.

He has a good track record of making the quarter-finals in grass events of this level but is volatile at the best of times.

The wild carded Stefan Kozlov has a Junior Wimbledon runner-up title on his resume and also made the quarters at this event last year. It would surprise me if he can handle the imposing Karlovic game.

Home boy Robin Haase is another dangerous opponent. He is a talented player but is a laughing stock on social media for his notably weak mental game. He has reached the semifinals at this tournament in the past and is seeded this week.

Despite the banana skins Karlovic is the most reliable performer in his half of the draw and there is value in him leaving here with the title at 9/1 with various bookies.

Quarter 3

The highest seed in the 3rd quarter is the Luxemburger Gilles Muller. The Lowlander has strong course form, and was narrowly edged out by Nicolas Mahut in the 2016 final.

Going into that match Muller had never won a tour title and it had an impact as he failed to get over the finishing line. After winning a maiden title in Sydney Muller has that particular monkey off his back, and it would take a brave person to oppose him given his draw.

Muller actually made an additional grass court final in 2016, and as a seeded player he consistently outperforms expectations.

There is not much in the 3rd quarter for Muller to worry about if he’s on his game. The 8th seeded Aljaz Bedene struggles on the surface and is an outsider to even win his first round match with Denis Istomin.

Hyeon Chung performed well during the clay swing but is unproven on the grass – as he was prior to the start of the clay events.

Andreas Seppi looks a spent force of late and his good grass court results are falling deeper and deeper into the archives.

Of the other players in Muller’s quarter, Istomin is the most capable of providing a challenge. In six tournament starts in the past three seasons Istomin has made a semi final and won a tournament from an unseeded start.

This combined with strong performance statistics make him worthy of consideration at 25/1 with various books. I prefer Muller at 10/1 with Unibet.

Quarter 4

Alexander Zverev took a wildcard into this week’s event hot on the heels of his hugely underwhelming performance in Roland Garros. The precocious German was primed to have a big run at the French Open but failed to get out of the starting blocks in a poor defeat to Fernando Verdasco.

My numbers show Zverev to be a player that is more naturally suited to clay than to grass, despite winning the title in Halle 12 months ago. Zverev is becoming a hard player to read, equally capable of outright winning every events he enters, or sinking at an early hurdle.

He is certainly decent on the grass and it wouldn’t surprise me if he storms through the field but there are more natural grass courters available at bigger prices that I am choosing to side with this week.

The obvious choice is Nicolas Mahut – available at 12/1 with BWin (but for very limited stakes) to win Hertogenbosch for the 4th time in five years.

Watching Mahut on this surface is a joy to behold as his crafty game smartly outwits opponent after opponent. He looks good to make at least the quarters this week.

Summary

I see no harm in backing three players this week at healthy prices for a betting portfolio. The two low priced tournament favourites – Zverev and Cilic – don’t deserve such billing at this level of event. It is better to stake on Karlovic in the top half, and both Muller and Mahut from the bottom half.

Best Bets

ATP Hertogenbosch – Ivo Karlovic to win (9/1 Bet365)

ATP Hertogenbosch – Gilles Muller to win (10/1 Unibet)

ATP Hertogenbosch – Nicolas Mahut to win (12/1 BWin)

 

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