Side with Cilic in Memphis
Our tennis expert Derek Bilton fancies Marin Cilic to take the US National Indoor Tennis Championship title in Memphis.
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The US National Indoor Tennis Championships has attracted a quality field this year, where old-stager Tommy Haas will be shooting for a fourth Memphis title.
The big-serving German claimed glory here way back in 1999, and also won in 2006 and 2007. Haas is one of the ATP's elder statesmen at 34, but looked excellent in San Jose last week where he made the final.
He is 10/1 to triumph, but it might be asking too much of him given the amount of tennis he has played recently.
- 2pts Marin Cilic to win the US National Indoor at 6/1 (Stan James) - has a good draw and arrives in great form.
- 2pts Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win the ATP Open 13 at 11/2 (Coral) - should be in his prime and nobody to fear.
- 1pt e.w. David Nalbandian in the ATP Copa Claro at 12/1 (Ladbrokes, BetVictor) - looks in form and overpriced.
Home hope John Isner will have his backers at 8/1, and the American number one made the final here in 2010. The courts are lightning quick and Isner's bullet serve will take some stopping on this type of terrain.
Milos Raonic is the 100/30 favourite for the title, having twice made the final and compiling an 8-2 lifetime record at the event. Raonic is another who has started the year well and his serve and fierce groundstrokes should see him pick up plenty of cheap points.
Yet it's Marin Cilic, making his debut in Memphis, who could be worth siding with at 6/1.
The Croat has won his last six matches having claimed two singles rubbers on Davis Cup duty before scorching through the field in Zagreb at the start of the month.
The 24-year-old is ranked 12 in the world and will have high hopes of cracking the top 10 this year. He moves well for a big man and is a better returner than he was a couple of years ago.
The top seed has a decent draw and looking at it there is nobody in the field who he should be wary of.
There is also indoor action in Marseille this week, where Juan Martin Del Potro will be out to defend his Open 13 title.
Twelve months ago the Argentine won on his debut on the Mediterranean coast, and having won his last tournament he will be full of confidence.
The surface in Marseille is one of the fastest on the tour so Tomas Berdych will be hoping to cash in. The Czech has a big game and although he's not the most consistent player around he is a joy to watch when in the mood.
However he's never really done it here, failing to get beyond the quarter-finals in five previous visits.
One man who has tasted glory in Marseille is Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was victorious here in 2009 and will be hoping for another big week this time around.
A gifted athlete, Tsonga has won six ATP titles on indoor hardcourts and so obviously loves this sort of terrain.
He enjoyed a decent Australian Open, beating Richard Gasquet before going down against Roger Federer in a five-set classic. At 27 he should be at the absolute peak of his powers and he gets our vote here this week at 11/2.
There is also clay action in Buenos Aires, where David Ferrer heads the field.
Ferrer is arguably the most tenacious player on the Tour and is an 11/10 jolly to defend his Copa Claro title.
However, it's David Nalbandian who I like the look of in this one at 12s.
Surely the most talented player to have never won a Grand Slam, Nalbandian looked fit and focused as he reached the final in Brazil last week.
The Cordoba man won here in 2008 and would be a popular winner if he can roll back the years on clay this week.
He is by no means a rock-solid selection, but in a field without clay legend Rafael Nadal I'm not sure 'Nalbo' should be priced up at double figures in the betting.