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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

100-1 Taylor Fritz could step up on his Surbiton effort

Aussie Barty ready to justify her top seeding in Nottingham

Taylor Fritz could carve a path through the Stuttgart draw
1 of 1

Start Monday

ATP Mercedes Cup
Roger Federer is again top seed for the Mercedes Cup but having after he fell short against his good pal Tommy Haas in Stuttgart last year, punters need to decide whether he will be fully committed to adding the title to his roster with his beloved events in Halle and Wimbledon coming up.

The oddsmakers certainly think he’ll do the business this time – Haas has officially retired from playing for the second time in his career – and if the world number two is in the mood there's little to stop him.

Nick Kyrgios is taking things steady after an elbow injury kept him out of the French Open, while 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic is also feeling his way a little after a knee problem.

Lucas Pouille profited in Stuttgart last year when others fell by the wayside and the Frenchman has been below par on clay in recent weeks so offers little appeal for a repeat in Germany.

Tomas Berdych, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Denis Shapovalov and Feliciano Lopez can be considered, but none would be fancied to stop Federer, who returns after electing to skip the first half of the clay campaign.

Taylor Fritz was edged out by Surbiton finalist Alex de Minaur in Berrylands last week. But should the Californian find a way past Benoit Paire and Berdych, who could be difficult to beat in round two, in Stuttgart and end up meeting Federer in the final, it's just possible the Swiss legend may not be that fussed about adding the latest Mercedes model to his car collection.

T Fritz
1pt each-way 100-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

ATP Libema Open
With the move from clay to grass, a lot of bookmakers' outright quotes are shorter than would normally be the case this week so punters may wish to think twice before staking heavily in the men's Libema Open in Den Bosch.

It's no surprise to see second seed Richard Gasquet awarded favouritism, but while the mercurial Frenchman has not always been that quick to shine on the surface he looks to offer just about the best value.

Grass-lovers Ivo Karlovic, Gilles Muller and Marcos Baghdatis can be considered, but Matt Ebden looks too short even though he could spring a surprise.

R Gasquet
1pt each-way 15-2 Coral, Ladbrokes

WTA Nature Valley Open
The bottom half of the Notting­ham draw looks more competitive than the top, so it may pay to side with either top seed Ashleigh Barty or third seed Naomi Osaka in the Nature Valley Open.

Magdalena Rybarikova is the top-ranked player in the lower half while British number one Johanna Konta is seeded fourth after a relatively quiet time of it on clay.

Konta still merits huge respect because last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist will be looking for a boost in the lead-up to the London Grand Slam.

Defending champion Donna Vekic could enter calculations and is seeded sixth but the Croat, a 40-1 shot 12 months ago, is single figures in place this year and looks short enough.

Osaka won her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March, and having now tasted success in a big tournament, she may have eyes on Slam joy so it could pay to wait for the Japanese ace for Wimbledon or Eastbourne.

But Barty is still in the business of trying to prove herself worthy of her lofty ranking, so the Australian can be chanced to dominate at the Nottingham Centre.

A Barty
1pt each-way 11-2 Coral, Ladbrokes

WTA Libema Open
CoCo Vandeweghe is bidding to make it two wins in three years in Den Bosch and while the American can be considered, she looks short enough at the available prices.

She was 9-1 when victorious in 2016 and bookmakers are now quoting roughly half those odds.

With plenty of talented performers in action in Holland – Anett Kontaveit and Belinda Bencic to name just a couple in the top half of the draw – Vandeweghe can be passed over.

A fourth title of the year for second seed Elise Mertens cannot be ruled out. The Belgian is turning into a hugely impressive performer, although she was hammered by French Open heroine Simona Halep in Paris last week.

Mertens' compatriot Kirsten Flipkens tends to come alive in the grass season and can be considered, but it may be worth chancing Ajla Tomljanovic to go all the way in Den Bosch.

The Croatia-born Australian has been playing better this year and the move to grass could afford her a chance to boost her prospects further.

A Tomljanovic
1pt each-way 33-1 bet365, Betfred

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It's just possible that Federer may not be that fussed about adding the latest Mercedes model to his car collection
E.W. Terms
Sky bet