Side with Karlovic in Eastbourne
Picking a winner for the AEGON International requires as much attention to fitness as form, with an injury-ravaged field heading to Eastbourne.
- Related Content
Feliciano Lopez has captured favouritism (11/2 with Sky Bet) after reaching the final at Queen's, falling agonisingly short in a third-set tie-break to Grigor Dimitrov.
Whether that physical and emotional outlay will serve as a significant detriment remains to be seen, especially with Wimbledon just around the corner.
World no.14 Richard Gasquet (11/2 at Betfred) is the top seed here and has grass-court calibre, with two titles on the surface, but has endured a well below-par campaign, sitting 29th in the 'Race to London' - the rankings for the calendar year.
The Frenchman has been struggling with a shoulder injury and played just one clay-court event before losing in straight sets to 52nd ranked Robin Haase in Halle.
Alexandr Dolgopolov is the second seed and would have been my pick at 6/1 but was forced to pull out of Queen's after his third-round win, raising concerns as to whether he'll even compete.
Ivo Karlovic's threat is always increased on the grass and if he wins enough tie-breaks then a second title of 2014 certainly isn't beyond him.
The rejuvenated 35-year-old ended a five-year wait for a title to triumph amid a similar standard field in Bogota and has climbed from 78th to 33 in the world this year.
He was also forced to retire recently, in the third round at Roland Garros on the back of reaching the final on the clay in Dusseldorf the week before.
It's fair to say he's the player the rest of the field will relish facing the least so I'll be putting an investment on him to reach the final at least at a top price of 8/1, while also backing plenty of tie-breaks throughout.
2010 finalist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who recently claimed the scalp of Stanislas Wawrinka at the French Open, is the other player considered amongst the favourites at 6/1 with most bookmakers, although Coral oddly have him at 11s.
Other than his run here four years back, the clay-court specialist lacks pedigree on grass, failing to ever go past the second round at Wimbledon.
Gilles Simon, who lost in the final to Lopez here last year, looks overpriced at 16/1 with Betfred and, while far from being ideally suited to grass, has the quality to land the title.
The 2010 Queen's winner Sam Querrey (12/1) enjoys the grass with his big serving game but has endured a disappointing campaign, failing to beat a top 40 player since January.
Ultimately, it looks an incredibly tough event to call with the outright understandably wide open.
Detracting factors exists with the three best players, Gasquet, Dolgopolov and Lopez, so picking the winner will bring significant financial rewards.
I'm going to take the 8/1 widely available for Karlovic and the 16s at Totesport and Betfred for Simon, both each-way.
Those fancying one of the home hopes can get hefty odds for their patriotism, with Dan Evans and James Ward both 80/1 while youngster Kyle Edmund is as big at 150/1 with Bet365.