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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Clay king Cuevas looks to have a grand chance in Rio

Zverev could be value to race Marseille glory

Pablo Cuevas should prevail if at his best
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ATP Rio Open
Sky Sports 2 & Mix, 7.30pm

Kei Nishikori heads the market in Rio but reigning champion Pablo Cuevas excels on clay and the Uruguayan, who defeated Rafael Nadal on his way to glory last year, shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Argentina-born performer has won all five of his career titles on this surface, including last February’s Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, highlighting his love for playing in the country and his hunger for showcasing his talent at this time of year.

Potentially easy first- and second-round games against two qualifiers should fill him with confidence before a likely winnable quarter-final showdown with Albert Ramos Vinolas, who has a tendency to start his matches slowly.

Second-seed Dominic Thiem may be the biggest obstacle standing in Cuevas' way in the bottom half of the draw but he is yet to beat the Uruguayan on a clay surface and tends to save his best for his much-preferred hard courts.

Nishikori and Alexandr Dolgopolov feature in the top half of the draw but they clashed in the Argentina Open final on Sunday and their busy schedule may take its toll.

In that case David Ferrer, who looked in decent nick in the Australian Open and prefers this surface, could be looming as a potential finalist.

P Cuevas
1pt each-way 12-1 Ladbrokes

ATP Marseille

The temperamental Nick Kyrgios landed this event last year but the talented Aussie has a mind of his own and teenage sensation Alexander Zverev is a much safer alternative.

Kyrgios is often referred to as the bad boy of tennis and his bizarre on-court antics make him impossible to back with confidence.

Zverev, on the other hand, is among the most promising young talents on the ATP circuit and the Montpellier Open winner can claim another French title in this week’s Marseille showpiece. 

His potential route to the final is as tough as they come but that’s reflected in his price and many of his challengers, such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, have already lost to the German this month.

Top seed Gael Monfils may be the fly in the ointment and he leads Zverev 3-0 in their head-to-heads. But, while the Frenchman is struggling to emulate last season's heroics, Zverev is progressing.  

A Zverev 
1pt 7-1 Hills

ATP Delray Beach

Juan Martin del Potro will launch his latest comeback at the Delray Beach Open in Florida this week but the Argentinian ace may need his seasonal reappearance and could be vulnerable to someone stripping fitter.

The 28-year-old has been dogged by wrist problems in recent years and being berthed in the top half of the draw alongside red-hot favourite Milos Raonic will make things even tougher.

The top-seeded Canadian should be incredibly difficult to beat, with the outdoor hard court expected to play to all his strengths, and a recent defeat against Rafael Nadal, who went on to finish runner-up, in the quarter-final of the Australian Open was no disgrace.

However, at the prices it could be worth chancing Jack Sock, who is improving at a rate of knots.

The American has always been held in high regard and he recently claimed his second ATP World Tour title on this surface in Auckland. 

Home support should spur him on and the world number 21 is fancied to prove too strong for the ageing Ivo Karlovic and compatriot Steve Johnson - his two biggest dangers in the bottom half of the draw.

J Sock
1pt 5-1 general



The Argentina-born performer has won all five of his career titles on this surface, including last February’s Brazil Open in Sao Paulo
E.W. Terms
Sky bet