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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Forgotten man Marsel Ilhan could pose problems for Jaziri on clay

Jaziri could be more vulnerable on a slow clay court

Marsel Ilhan would have beaten Malez Jaziri on clay at his peak
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Istanbul Open
From 10.30am Tuesday

Malek Jaziri has enjoyed a strong start to 2018 with a fine run to the semi-finals of the Dubai Championship in March, but the Tunisian 34-year-old could be overrated for his clash with Marsel Ilhan in the Istanbul Open (due to start at 3pm).

A few years ago Ilhan would have been favourite to defeat the stocky Jaziri on clay in his homeland, yet the north African is a short-priced 1-6 chance to open with a win in Turkey.

Jaziri caused problems for Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16 in Barcelona last week, but this clash could be all about the wildcard Ilhan's ability to put on a show.

The Uzbekistan-born Ilhan, who has dropped to 334th in the rankings, operates in the lower echelons these days but he can still cause trouble for certain opponents when the opportunity arises.

He was pipped by Jaziri on an Istanbul hard court last year, so Ilhan has a definite chance of going close on a surface that would usually suit him more than his opponent.

Punters can consider backing Ilhan at big odds-against - he was being nibbled at on Monday - but the best way to support the outsider may be to back him with a start of 5.5 games.

Karolina Pliskova, who was top seed for the Prague Open, pulled out of the Czech clay event in the wake of her Stuttgart Grand Prix triumph. She was replaced in the draw by Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

M Ilhan +5.5 games
1pt 4-5 Betway, Sky Bet

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A few years ago Ilhan would have been favourite to defeat the stocky Jaziri on clay in his homeland
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Sky bet