ATP World Tour: The Winston and Salem Open

The Winston and Salem Open

Our tennis expert preview the Winston and Salem Open set to take place in North Carolina from 21 August - 27 August. 

With Flushing Meadows fast approaching, it’s little wonder that the elite players have decided to largely forsake one of the least glamourous stops on the American hardcourt surfaces. Having said that, 40 of the world’s top 100 players have still seen it fit to get in some fine tuning ahead of what is building up to be one of the most unpredictable US Opens in recent memory.

Defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta is seeded 2nd behind the man he beat in last year’s final: Roberto Bautista-Agut. But perhaps the main drawcard is big serving American John Isner, who has committed to the event fully despite rampant media speculation that he may withdraw with the Big Apple looming so tantalizingly.

ATP 250 Series: The Winston and Salem Open | 21 August - 27 August | North Carolina 

Past Champions
2016: Pablo Carreno Busta
2015: Kevin Anderson
2014: Lukas Rosol 
2013: Jurgen Melzer
2012: John Isner 

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The Favourites:

Roberto Bautista-Agut
World Number 14 Roberto Bautista Agut is the highest ranked player in the field and was runner-up in last years edition. While traditionally seen as something of a clay-court specialist, he actually has an excellent record on the hardcourts this year, winning 18 and only losing 5. He had a disappointing appearance in Cincinnati, however, crashing out in the 3rd round to World Number 60 Jared Donaldson. Personally, I feel that Bautista-Agut is starting to suffer a similar fate to that of Thiem, with a congested schedule limiting his chances.

Pablo Carreno Busta
Pablo Carreno Busta is the defending champion in North Carolina, and looks far better value than the top seed. He has won 2 further titles since his victory here last season, but more intriguing is his quarter of the draw. Gilles Simon has been struggling for consistency this season while every victory seems to be a labour of love for Fernando Verdasco. He ran into an inspired David Ferrer in Cincinnati and I think he is the man to back in the bottom half of the draw.

John Isner
John Isner probably shouldn’t be playing this week, but duty has got the better part of reason as the American honours the commitment he made to the organizers here. This was especially surprising given the fact that he made it to the semi-finals in Cincinnati, only for the enigmatic Kyrgios to dismantle his serving engine. The courts here play slightly slower, but that hasn’t stopped Isner before. The 2011 and 2012 champion is clearly a threat, but the looming US Open and his recent on-court exigencies could leave him short this week.

One to Watch- Yuichi Sugita 
Something of a late bloomer, Sugita has finally cracked into the world top 50 this year at the ripe old age of 28- which is slightly distressing for yours truly. His quarter-final run at Cincinnati was only curtailed by an absolute pummeling by eventual winner Dimitrov. He is never going to have the ammo to consistently dispatch of the top guys, but he has consistently improved.

He reached the last 8 in Halle, only to lose to eventual champion Federer. He also beat both Carreno Busta and Richard Gasquet en route to the quarters in Barcelona. He won an admittedly depleted title in Antalya, but he also manged to beat David Goffin in Montreal. Looking at his quarter- aside for Bautista-Agut whose recent form has been questionable, the likes of Lorenzi and Vesely hardly inspire.

Complete Outsider- Victor Troicki 
This one doesn’t really operate within the realms of pure logic. The journeyman 31 year-old is hardly in stellar form, losing his last 4 matches. But I think there may be room in the 3rd quarter for a surprise, with many of the seeded players in poor form. Steve Johnson and Medvedev have also their last three matches, and Troicki has the ability to bring it on the big stage. Just last May he managed to make it to the last 4 at the Paribas in Istanbul. He has a career hardcourt record of 176-147 and is well worth a sniff in an extremely poor 3rd quarter.

A Decent Bet- 17/20 for John Isner to beat Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets.
This looks like a fairly safe bet when you consider the way that Isner is serving. There’s always a risk when you consider it just takes one errant service game to ruin this, but I think it looks fairly solid.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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