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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Brilliant Zverev can add to his title haul in Washington

Halep should justify short odds in WTA Citi Open

Sascha Zverev is set to continue his rise
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ATP Citi Open
The best of the men’s action comes from Washington at the ATP Citi Open and Milos Raonic looks to be a vulnerable favourite in a field packed with big names.

If his serve is firing on all cylinders, the giant Canadian will be a danger to all, but it’s worth remembering that he hasn’t won a title in 18 months so any doubts about his ability to get over the line could be exposed in this company.

Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov are all capable of challenging for the title if they produce their best tennis but picking a more consistent performer could prove to be the key.

Alexander Zverev is only 20 years of age but he is swiftly becoming one of the most solid players on the tour. He was beaten in both Miami and Indian Wells by his friend and rival Nick Kyrgios and is scheduled to meet the Australian firebrand again in the third round.

But Kyrgios has been struggling with a hip injury for much of the summer - he withdrew from the Atlanta Open last week - and the German could easily turn the tables should they meet again. The further Zverev progresses, the more he will grow in confidence and he looks primed to secure a fifth career title.

Recommendation
A Zverev
1pt 8-1 Hills

ATP Los Cabos Open
The second edition of the Los Cabos Open is headlined by Tomas Berdych and the big Czech looks to have an excellent chance of winning his first title of 2017.

The draw has been extremely kind to the veteran, who is a 15-8 chance for glory on the Mexican hard courts. Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey, Fernando Verdasco and inaugural champion Feliciano Lopez are all drawn in the bottom half and there’s little to worry Berdych in the top half.

The 31-year-old found Roger Federer too strong in the Wimbledon semi-finals but he played well at the All England Club and the switch to a hard court should not faze him.

Recommendation
T Berdych
1pt 15-8 Coral

ATP Generali Open
The final clay-court event of the season takes place in the picturesque surroundings of Kitzbuhel and Pablo Cuevas heads the betting as the ATP World Tour’s red-dirt performers eye a last chance at a title.

Fabio Fognini, fresh from his triumph at the Swiss Open, is in the field but the enigmatic Italian is likely to struggle to follow up. He is of little interest at the prices while the same can be said for Cuevas, who exited in the opening rounds in both Bastad and Gstaad.

It might be worth taking a chance on Jiri Vesely. The 24-year-old Czech faces a tough start against Gstaad runner-up Yannick Hanfmann but the German has to pick himself up after a disappointing ending to a golden week.

Vesely’s defeat to Leonardo Mayer in last week’s German Championships looks better after the Argentinian went on to win the tournament and he has an each-way chance.

Recommendation
J Vesely
1pt each-way 14-1 general

WTA Citi Open
The WTA Citi Open field lacks the depth of the men’s event and punters should not ignore the obvious claims of world number two Simona Halep as she looks to overtake Karolina Pliskova at the top of the rankings.

The Road to Singapore leader has faltered at the very highest level, losing to Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final and exiting Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage against Johanna Konta - on both occasions she was in the driving seat before failing to get over the line.

Kiki Mladenovic is the obvious alternative to the favourite but the Frenchwoman is not as reliable as Halep. The Romanian has arguably been the most consistent player on the tour this year and can take this title before beginning the defence of her Rogers Cup crown next week.

Recommendation
S Halep
2pts 21-10 Paddy Power

WTA Bank of the West Classic
California’s Stanford Classic is a WTA Premier event and, as such, has attracted a stronger field than the Washington tournament but those at the top of the market could be vulnerable.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza heads the betting but the Spaniard has won just twice in non-Grand Slam events in her career and is not easy to trust back on a hard court.

Maria Sharapova makes her return to competitive tennis after she was forced to skip the grass season due to injury but the controversial Russian is unlikely to be fully wound up after more than two months on the sidelines.

Petra Kvitova won the Aegon Classic on her beloved grass following her miraculous return from the hand injury she sustained in a knife attack at her home, but she struggled at Wimbledon and a lack of match fitness could catch her out in the California heat.

Take them on with California native Coco Vandeweghe. The big server reached the final in Stanford in 2012, loves these lightning-fast courts, and would be fancied to come out on top in a likely quarter-final clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Recommendation
C Vandeweghe
1pt 7-1 general

Zverev is only 20 years of age but he is swiftly becoming one of the most solid players on the tour
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