The dust has settled from the French Open, literally, as the Men’s Tour moves to the grass courts of Stuttgart this week.
The tournament is underway, but the big seeds have yet to show their hands after receiving first-round byes.
The top-half of the draw is dominated by Rafa Nadal, though the bookies are keen to take him on and have priced him up at 3/1. However, despite not taking a title so far this season, he doesn’t look to have much to beat and should easily make the final – where he would probably be odds-on against whoever he played. There’s no doubting that he isn’t the player he once was, and may never return to that level at the age of 29, but his most recent defeats have come at the hands of French Open finalists Wawrinka and Djokovic – and there’s certainly nothing of that class here. He ‘s also beat the likes of Berdych recently to show he can still certainly compete against the second echelon of men’s tennis.
The second-half of the draw looks a little trickier with Marin Cilic and Feliciano Lopez seeded to clash in the semi-finals. Neither has hit the heights they’re capable of so far this season, but both often up their games from here on in. Both will also be keen to get their eye in on the grass in the run up to Wimbledon, and I expect them to reach the semi-finals. If they do, judging on past head-to-heads (which Cilic leads 3-2) it should be a close encounter. Cilic also won the only time the pair met on grass 4-6 7-6 7-5. Cilic is a best priced 4/1 to win, whilst Lopez is 13-2, and it’s a tough call.
If it’s a Cilic vs Nadal final, it’s worth noting Nadal leads 2-1 on their head-to-heads, though the pair haven’t clashed since 2011, and never on grass. Meanwhile, if it’s a Nadal vs Lopez final, the doubles partners have clashed 12 times with Nadal leading 9-3. However Lopez won their only encounter on grass, which was in 2010, but he also won their last encounter at the 2014 Shanghai Masters.
With Nadal fancied to get to the final, it’s probably worth backing him at 3-1 for victory, whilst a saver on Lopez may also be a good call at 13/2 considering his record against Nadal.
Nadal 1 point win @ 3/1 (Betfred)
Feliciano Lopez 1 point win @ 13/2 (Betfred)
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