Carreno Busta looks ready to reign on his clay return
Coric could shine in his homeland on slow red courts
ATP Swedish Open
Pablo Carreno Busta, the top seed in Bastad this week, skipped the grass season after sustaining an abdominal injury when retiring in the second set of his French Open quarter-final clash with Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard has made encouraging strides this season and he could be a major force in Sweden after a good rest.
Carreno Busta, ranked 17th in the world, should be good enough to reach the semi-finals – neither seventh seed Diego Schwartzman nor Renzo Olivo should have his measure should the selection meet one of the Argentinians in the last eight.
And it would be a surprise if anyone out of Karen Khachanov, Horacio Zeballos, Alexandr Dolgopolov or Ernests Gulbis downs Carreno Busta should he meet one of that bunch in the last four.
Gulbis played well to defeat Juan Martin del Potro at Wimbledon but the Latvian, who has used his protected ranking to secure a main-draw berth in Bastad, is no certainty to keep up the good work this week.
In the bottom half of the draw, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who is seeded second for his title defence, may have to fend off Fernando Verdasco, whom he beat in last year’s final, in the last eight while two-time Bastad champion David Ferrer may have to toil to deny 2014 Swedish Open hero Pablo Cuevas in the third quarter.
P Carreno Busta
1pt 6-1 Coral, Ladbrokes
ATP Croatia Open
Top seed David Goffin requested a wild-card entry to compete in Umag this week, but the Belgian ace is returning from a break of nearly seven weeks with a foot injury sustained at the French Open.
Goffin is a progressive performer, but it will be a big surprise if he is fit enough to win after a nasty injury in which he twisted his foot in a collision with the tarpaulin at the back of a Roland Garros which caused him to miss the grass-court season.
Also in the top half of the draw, Fabio Fognini defends the title he won in fine style last season.
The Italian could be a threat, but preference is for talented Borna Coric to come through in his homeland.
Coric won his first title, on clay in Marrakech, in April and is still very much a work in progress at the age of 20. But punters should not forget the maturity the Croat showed when he defeated Jack Sock in the Davis Cup on a hard court in Portland, Oregon 12 months ago, so Coric could be capable of stepping up in front of his home fans.
If Coric comes up short, Gael Monfils could fit the bill.
The Frenchman returns to the slow courts after one of his most successful grass campaigns in which he reached the final in Eastbourne.
Along with Goffin, Monfils and Fognini, Kitzbuhel champion Paolo Lorenzi is the other player to receive a first-round bye. But it will be a surprise if the Italian is good enough to prosper in this field.
1pt each-way 16-1 Betfred
ATP Hall of Fame Open
Big-serving top seeds John Isner and Ivo Karlovic will probably end up vying to lift the Van Alen Cup in Newport on Sunday, but top seed Isner has not been in the best of form this year.
Defending champion Karlovic, who has made the last three finals of the Hall of Fame Open, is playing his usual admirable stuff and looks sure to be tough to stop, so it may be worth placing your faith in the Croatian veteran.
Karlovic’s biggest rival in the bottom half of the draw could be Adrian Mannarino, who has stepped up his form in recent weeks and reached the last 16 at Wimbledon.
But the Frenchman is no certainty to reproduce his good work across the pond and with Taylor Fritz, who could also have been dangerous, due to compete later this week in qualifying for next week’s Atlanta Open, it could pay to stick with big Ivo.
Reilly Opelka is another player suited to grass – he’s 7ft tall – but would need to improve his form.
1pt 7-2 Betfred
WTA Gstaad Championship
There are some low-ranked players in both of this week’s WTA tournaments, so that ought to give chances to the seeds.
But there are no byes in the women’s events and so in Gstaad Caroline Garcia, last year’s runner-up Kiki Bertens, Anett Kontaveit and Mona Barthel will have to play as many rounds as the lesser lights.
Second seed Bertens, who retained the Nuremberg clay title in May, faces a tricky opener against Aleksandra Krunic. Top seed Garcia is priced a little short and Kontaveit, who captured her maiden main-tour title in Den Bosch, has been busy on grass.
Barthel, who made a promising start to the season, looks capable of winning her first two outings against Maria Sakkari, who went well on grass, and either fellow German Tamara Korpatsch or Jill Teichmann.
Barthel could face a tougher test if running into Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last eight, but useful American Louisa Chirico could also have a say in this section.
Veteran Patty Schnyder, who has been in decent nick in ITF competition since returning from retirement, opens against fellow Swiss wild-card Amra Sadikovic. The winner could meet defending champion Viktorija Golubic in the last 16 and Schnyder may be worth an interest.
0.5pt each-way 66-1 Betfred
WTA Bucharest Open
Anastasija Sevastova, who landed her second WTA Tour title and her first since her return from retirement in 2015 when successful on grass in Majorca last month, is top-seeded in Romania this week.
But while the Latvian world number 19 is on the up, she faces a potentially tough opener against Jana Cepelova and others appeal more at the available odds.
Seasoned clay-courter Carla Suarez Navarro is seeded second in a field with a raft of players with three-figure rankings so the Gran Canaria native merits plenty of respect.
Fourth seed Monica Niculescu will do well to pick up in her homeland after being thrashed in the final of the Wimbledon women’s doubles on Saturday night, but her seeded compatriots Sorana Cirstea and Irina-Camelia Begu could enter the title reckoning.
Cirstea faces a tough-looking opener against Ana Bogdan, though, and can be passed over, and while German seeds Julia Goerges and Tatjana Maria have been in decent nick, it could be worth having a punt on Ekaterina Alexandrova to showcase her talents.
The Russian was far from disgraced when losing 6-2 6-4 to Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the first round of the London Grand Slam.
She looks as if she has a big future in her chosen sport and Alexandrova, the only player from her country in the main draw, could get chances to show her class.
1pt 40-1 Betfred