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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

In-form Kevin Anderson can spoil Nadal's return in Mexican Open

Dimitrov has a big chance in the Dubai Championship

Rafael Nadal was impressive on his return to action
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ATP Mexican Open
Rafael Nadal starts his bid to regain the world number one ranking at Acapulco’s Mexican Open this week and the Spanish star will be looking to benefit from a kind draw.

Nadal, last seen when retiring in the deciding set of his Australian Open quarter-final match against Marin Cilic, has slipped behind Roger Federer in the rankings so he’ll be aiming to go one better than he did when beaten in last year’s final by Sam Querrey. He could meet Querrey in the quarter-finals this week.

The bottom half of the draw is extremely competitive with Juan Martin del Potro, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev among the big names housed in that section so it’s best to concentrate on the top half.

Nadal is the man they all have to beat but his health has to be taken on trust and inaugural New York Open champion and US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson could prove to be a better value bet.

The giant South African has regularly contended in the latter stages of this tournament, reaching the final in 2014 and the semis a year later, and he looks to have a relatively straightforward path to the quarter-finals.

K Anderson
1pt each-way 11-1 bet365

ATP Dubai Championship
The ATP Dubai Championship title has been dominated by the biggest names in the game over the last 15 years but there’s no Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray in the desert this week and that could enable Grigor Dimitrov to claim another title.

The stylish Bulgarian capped a fine 2017 campaign by winning the ATP World Tour Finals and he has made a strong start to 2018 in reaching the semi-finals in Brisbane, the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the final of the Rotterdam Open, where he was unfortunate to run into an unstoppable Federer.

The tournament lacks depth and Marseille finalists Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille are both in the opposite half to the world number four.

Dimitrov, who returns to Dubai after seven years, can justify favouritism and rates a confident selection.

G Dimitrov
3pts 100-30 Coral, Ladbrokes, 188Bet

ATP Brazil Open
The final leg of the Golden Swing takes in Sao Paulo and improving clay performer Nicolas Jarry is worth backing as he bids to claim his first ATP World Tour title.

The Chilean followed up a quarter-final appearance in Quito by making the semi-finals of the Rio Open last week where he saw off experienced red-dirt performers in Pablo Cuevas and Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

He’s drawn in the top half alongside Ramos-Vinolas and Gael Monfils, who looked jaded in exiting against Schwartzman in Rio.

Guido Pella is also one to keep an eye on in that section while Fabio Fognini and Leonardo Mayer will fancy their chances of downing Cuevas in the bottom half.

N Jarry
1pt each-way 16-1 bet365, Betfred, 188Bet

WTA Mexican Open
US Open champion Sloane Stephens is the standout name in the WTA Mexican Open but she hasn’t won a match since her New York triumph and can be readily taken on.

Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig has not really kicked on since her Rio heroics but the Puerta Rican has played well in Mexico before and will have plenty of crowd support.

A likely second-round tie with Alize Cornet looks tough but the Frenchwoman is under investigation for missing three drugs tests and her mind could be elsewhere.

M Puig
1pt each-way 14-1 bet365

WTA Oracle Series Indian Wells
The WTA Oracle Series Indian Wells, not to be confused with the BNP Paribas Open which starts next week at the same venue, has attracted a less-than-stellar entry list and bookmakers are betting 8-1 the field and it looks worth taking a chance at bigger prices.

Jennifer Brady’s form is patchy but the American reached the fourth round in both hard-court grand slams last year and she reached the semi-final of a $100,000 ITF event this month. She has a better chance than odds of 28-1 suggest.

J Brady
0.5pt 28-1 each-way general

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Nadal is the man they all have to beat but his health has to be taken on trust
E.W. Terms
Sky bet