ATP World Tour 500 Series: Citi Open Preview

Outright women's betting preview for Wimbeldon 2017

Our tennis guru previews the ATP World Tour 500 Series, Citi Open to be played in Washington which gets underway on 31 July 2017. 

The first shared tour-stop of the American hard-court season, the Citi Open will be part of the 500 series on the men’s tour. This has enticed nine of the world’s top 20 players into action this week, although members of the elite upper crust have all decided to eschew the event in this exceptionally congested period of the year.

Having said that, number’s seven through 11 are all in attendance at an event that could offer a glimpse at those contenders hoping to break the Federer-Nadal hegemony at this year’s US Open. That hope has only been exacerbated by Novak Djokovic’s stunning- if not totally unexpected- withdrawal from the rest of the season.

2017 Citi Open | 31 July - 6 August | William H.G Fitzgerald Tennis Center, Washington D.C

Past Winners
2016: Gael Monfils
2015: Kei Nishikori
2014: Milos Raonic
2013: Juan-Martin Del Potro
2012: Alexander Dolgopolov

The mercurial figure that is Gael Monfils will be looking to retain the title he so thrillingly won here last season- where the enigmatic Frenchman claimed a remarkable comeback victory over the gargantuan serve of Ivo Karlovic. Monfils has not been in the greatest form this year, with injuries plaguing a man who has never quite managed to shake off the perception of being an unfulfilled talent. John Isner may not be the highest ranked player in the rankings, but few would bet against the big American making it three wins from three on the American hard-courts.

The American has an excellent record in the US Open Series, clearly revelling in the quick court conditions that define this huge slice of the tennis season. He has, however, been unable to go all the way in Washington in previous visits. He has lost in three finals, with the added humidity in Washington perhaps having some part to play in that run. That, coupled with the fact that he is coming off a highly competitive final in Atlanta against Ryan Harrison, deters me from backing the American from making it three tournament victories in a row.

I also wouldn’t look too hard at the two men leading the seeds. The top half of the draw sees world number seven Dominic Thiem leading the contenders. But I wouldn’t get too excited by the chances of the Austrian. Thiem’s rankings largely reflect a workload that can only be described as somewhat masochistic. Furthermore, the Roland Garros semi-finalist- whose last victory came in February at the Rio Open- has not gone beyond the quarter-finals in eight hard-court appearances this season. He also could play 2014 runner-up Vasek Pospisil first up: which is a tie that is rife for an upset victory.

Kei Nishikori- the 2015 champion- has requested a wildcard for the event in an attempt to get some more matches under his belt. The number two seed has had an injury plagued season heading into his favourite time on the tennis calendar. The Japanese former champion- long carrying the burden of becoming the first potential Grand Slam Champions from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’- just hasn’t looked like recapturing the form that saw him finish runner-up in the US Open a few years back.

My Picks

The Outsider at the Top of the Draw - Kevin Anderson
Anderson has clearly struggled to replicate the form that saw him catapult up the world rankings last year. The big-serving South African has slowly been finding his feet once again following a long injury absence. He is heading into his preferred time of the year off the back of a return-to-form performance at Wimbledon that saw him bow out at the Round of 16 stage to eventual semi-finalist Sam Querrey.  He did manage to pick up victories over the likes of Nick Kyrgios and Thomaz Belluci in the dirt prior to that, indicating that he may be finding his feet again. His possible third round opponent is Thiem, a man he has a 5-0 head-to-head record. After that he would potentially face the hit-and-miss presence of Monfils, and I think Anderson represents good value this week.

The Favourite from the bottom of the draw - Alexander Zverev 
Alex Zverev is really the ‘it’ boy at the vanguard of the new wave of male tennis talent. Already winning three titles this season- including an excellent victory in the final of Rome against Novak- has been playing exciting tennis all year, and he narrowly missed out on a quarter-final place at Wimbledon. Although he is yet to progress past the quarter-final stage at a hardcourt event his year, he has all the weapons to challenge this week. His side of the draw has the temperamental Nick Kyrgios returning from injury, while Zverev has an excellent recent record against Grigor Dimitrov.

The Dark Horse - Steve Johnson 
Perhaps a more intriguing bet on this side of the side- aside from Zverev- would be Steve Johnson. Johnson has reached the semi-finals here for the past two seasons and the quarters the year before that. The death of his father seemed to seriously hamper his form earlier in the year, but he may be one to watch as the week unfolds.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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