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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Pouille could be ready to rumble on USA hardcourts

Del Potro may be going cheap without Murray and Djokovic

French ace Lucas Pouille should go one step further
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Tournament preview

Lucas Pouille has shown himself to be a versatile performer with few weaknesses to his game and the Frenchman is worth an each-way interest for the Miami Open men’s singles.

Pouille, who is seeded 11th at Crandon Park, has been drawn in the fourth quarter, where only Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic are his superiors.

Cilic has not been turning many heads in 2017 and Pouille looks the type to trouble the Croat should they clash in the last 16. Nishikori, who is playing well, would be more problematical should he face the selection in the quarter-finals, but the Japanese ace is not unbeatable and Pouille strengths should not be underrated.

French players are known for shining in their homeland, but they tend to struggle on the world stage. Mercurial talents Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should all have lifted much more silverware than they have done, but in Pouille France may have found a player who could eclipse that trio.

Pouille’s temperament looks sound and that’s one of the reasons he can be advised against such high-class performers as Cilic and Nishikori.

And with the third quarter looking a minefield – Milos Raonic, Australian Open runner-up Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov and Indian Wells semi-finalist Jack Sock are all vying for a spot in the last four – Pouille, who can be tough to defeat, would have a chance of surprising whoever he comes up against.

Roger Federer, who edged out Nadal in the Melbourne final, absolutely thrashed his great rival in Indian Wells last week and that could have dented the Majorcan’s confidence.

Federer, who is best at 6-1 for Wimbledon after his flying start to the season, is the clear favourite to complete the spring double for the first time since 2006 with victory in Miami. But while that cannot be written off, the Swiss veteran could start to feel the pace at some point in the next 12 days.

Take a chance on Juan Martin del Potro outdoing his fellow Argentinians Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria and Alberto Mancini, who all lost in Key Biscayne finals, by becoming the first Argentinian to win the tournament.

Del Potro was denied by Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells, and it’s just possible with Andy Murray and Djokovic absentees in Florida that he may be going cheap.

Taking on Tunisian Malek Jaziri proved costly on the open courts in Indian Wells. The wind is due to get up in the coming days in Miami, but it may still pay to have an interest in Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has started the season well, continuing the good work in Miami. A shade of odds-on about the classier player looks fair enough.

Recommendations
L Pouille to win title
1pt each-way 90-1 Paddy Power
J M del Potro to win title
2pts 20-1 BoyleSports, Coral, Sky Bet
A Dolgopolov to beat M Jaziri
1pt 8-11 Betway, Ladbrokes


Miami Open lowdown

Venue Crandon Park, Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida
Prize money $7,699,423 each for men’s and women’s singles with $1,175,505 going to the winners
Category – men Masters (1,000 ranking points to
winner) women Premier Mandatory (1,000 ranking points to winner)
Surface Outdoor Laykold hardcourts
Ball Penn
When to bet – men starts 2pm UK and Ireland time Wednesday women continues 2pm UK and Ireland time Wednesday
Where to watch – men live coverage on Sky Sports from Wednesday women continues live on BT Sport on Wednesday
Weather forecast Mostly dry and sunny but also windy (up to 20mph). High temperature 29C
Time difference Miami is four hours behind the UK and Ireland

Pouille’s temperament looks sound and that’s one of the reasons he can be advised against high-class performers such as Cilic and Nishikori
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