Take an outside chance

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: July 6 2014, 16:35 BST

Our tipster Andy Schooler is focusing on some outsiders for this week's action on the ATP World Tour.

Jiri Vesely: Should make an ATP final soon
Jiri Vesely: Should make an ATP final soon

The week after a Grand Slam tournament is often notable for its lack of big names.

However, that in itself often results in some open fields and the chance to claim a big-priced winner.

With '250' level events taking place on the ATP World Tour taking place in the USA, Sweden and Germany this week, that's what I'll attempt to do here.

We'll start by staying on the grass in Newport, Rhode Island - the oddity of the calendar meaning the grasscourt season extends a further week with the Hall of Fame Championships.

Being a two-time former champion, it's no surprise to see John Isner chalked up as the favourite.

We should be able to blow away plenty of players in this field but I still feel that he's overrated on grass where his big serve should produce better results than it actually does.

Certainly at around the 7/4 mark I'm prepared to look elsewhere.

With the top half also featuring established grass performer Lleyton Hewitt (he has reached the final in each of the past two years) I feel the value lies in the weaker bottom section.

Ivo Karlovic is the man seeded to make the final and the prices suggest he will do so. But, as with Isner, his results on this surface leave a lot to be desired given the serious weapon he possesses in his 140mph serve.

Karlovic lost his opening match at Wimbledon in straight sets to lucky loser Frank Dancevic and has never been beyond the last eight here. Again, swerve is my advice.

Instead the man I like the look of at a big price is Chinese Taipei's Jimmy Wang.

He showed his ability to win matches on this surface in the UK over the last few weeks.

Wang pushed the in-form Gilles Muller hard in one of the Nottingham Challenger events before winning three matches to qualify for Wimbledon.

Once in SW19 he duly won two rounds in the main draw, including a victory over 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny.

He'll turn up in Rhode Island full of confidence and capable of making the most of a decent draw.

The only player with serious grasscourt pedigree in the bottom half is defending champion Nicolas Mahut but he arrives having struggled on the surface this year, a first-round loss at Wimbledon following exits at the hands of Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Roberto Bautista Agut in the warm-up events.

At 50/1, Wang is worth an each-way punt.

Back in Europe, the clay specialists are back out in force with David Ferrer heading the field at the Swedish Open in Bastad.

Again he looks an opposable favourite given he's odds-on with some firms. It's not been a great year for Ferrer and a potential quarter-final clash with defending champion Carlos Berlocq looks awkward.

He may take a third title here - as top seed he only needs to win four matches to do so - but again I'd prefer to look to the other side of the draw for an each-way shot.

My pick is rising Czech star Jiri Vesely, a player who looks primed to make his first ATP final in the near future.

The 20-year-old nearly did so in Dusseldorf in May, where he made the semis, and this similarly small event will give him another good chance of achieving the feat.

After losing to eventual semi-finalist Milos Raonic at Roland Garros, Vesely made his priorities clear by staying on the clay and playing Challenger events in his homeland, winning one and finishing runner-up in another.

He made a rare foray onto the grass at Wimbledon and his strong form continued with a run to the third round. He beat Gael Monfils before running into fellow young gun Nick Kyrgios.

Vesely, who will hit a career-high ranking on Monday, is now beating good players on a fairly regular basis - as well as Monfils, Jurgen Melzer and Radek Stepanek have been seen off in recent weeks - and at 40/1 I like his chances here.

Last year's runner-up Fernando Verdasco is a tricky second-round foe but he's not having the best of seasons so the Czech is worth a try.

Finally I'll back Roberto Bautista Agut to triumph at the MercedesCup tournament in Stuttgart.

It is the final time this tournament will be played on clay - it moves onto grass in 2015 as part of the extended build-up period for Wimbledon.

The Spaniard has enjoyed a real breakthrough season and is currently on the cusp of cracking the world's top 20 for the first time and you can see why.

He made the last 16 at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells, where he beat Tomas Berdych.

Moving onto the clay he made his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Madrid and it has usually taken one of the game's big names to stop him on the red dirt - Berdych being the man to do so at Roland Garros in four sets.

The good form continued with the switch to grass with 'RBA' winning in Den Bosch before reaching the third round of Wimbledon where he ran into Andy Murray.

The third seed will only need to win four matches to claim the title here and although one of those could be against top seed Fabio Fognini, I'm happy to back him.

Fognini is an erratic player whose on-court meltdowns have rarely inspired confidence in his backers this season.

You won't get that with Bautista Agut whose form suggests he can claim the title here at 7/1.

  • Posted at 1610 BST on 06/07/2014.