With the clay-court season concluded by Rafael Nadal’s latest triumph at the French Open, attention now turns to the grass as players build up towards the next major of the year.
Wimbledon is just around the corner, so players have to adapt quickly to the change in pace from clay courts to grass, with the 2019 MercedesCup among this week’s top events.
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Alexander Zverev will be back in his homeland to compete for the trophy in Stuttgart and the German has been made the top seed, as well as the favourite among our favourite bookmakers.
He’s priced number one among the oddsmakers despite the fact Zverev is having a difficult 2019 so far and is yet to win a singles title on grass in his career on the ATP tour. This is also despite there being many other potential winners in the field too.
Danniil Medvedev has broken through as one of the most exciting young players on the tour this year and the Russian is not far behind Zverev when it comes to the MercedesCup betting odds.
Karen Khachanov, Nick Kyrgios and Lucas Pouille, who is a former champion of this event, are among the others to keep an eye on this week. But where is the best value in the betting? Let’s take a look.
Can Zverev Break Grass-Court Duck?
Having slipped to number five in the world rankings, Alexander Zverev could use a morale-boosting win or two. He has been usurped by Dominic Thiem for number four in the world while Stefanos Tsitsipas his hot on his tail in sixth place.
There has only been one title for Zverev so far this year – although that did come last month in Geneva – and his form has been very mixed, which is perhaps why he has opted to enter the Stuttgart event for the first time since 2005.
A run to the quarter-finals of the French Open showed some further encouraging signs for Zverev, who as the top seed at the MercedesCup has a bye into the second round.
Felix Auger-Aliassime potentially awaits Zverev in the quarter-finals before he is scheduled to meet either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Milos Raonic for a place in the final, which is on Sunday.
Before being stopped by Novak Djokovic in Paris, Zverev had won eight matches in a row on clay so hopefully that sequence has been good for his confidence, which has seemed to be on the wane a touch over the course of the year so far.
His price to win in Stuttgart this week is just 3/1, though, which seems a little short considering consistency has been hard to find for Zverev and his grass record is nothing special either.
Testing draw for Khachanov
Second seed Karen Khachanov can be backed at around the 8/1 mark to win the title and while this might seem generous for a man who reached the quarter-finals in Paris, his draw is tough.
Khachanov could open his campaign against the unpredictable Australian Nick Kyrgios, while Gael Monfils is also lurking in this mini-section of the draw.
Kyrgios did not play at Roland Garros, pulling out of the French Open citing illness, but he had complained about the tournament days earlier which may also have been a factor in his withdrawal from the second Grand Slam of the year.
If Kyrgios is feeling at 100 percent, he has the ability to trouble just about anyone on grass, but he has to be in the right mood to do so. He is certainly capable of beating Khachanov.
The 10/1 available for Nick Kyrgios to win the MercedesCup is therefore worth considering, although there is every chance he throws away his chances of victory in a typical fit of pique.
Monfils, meanwhile, could go under the radar despite the fact the Frenchman has as much experience on grass courts as Khachanov and Kyrgios put together. He is at 12/1.
Medvedev’s Form Takes a Dive
The excitement around Daniil Medvedev reached fever pitch around a month ago when the Russian made a superb start to the clay-court season, prompting speculation he could be primed for a run into the second week at Roland Garros.
But first-round exits in both Madrid and Rome saw the hype fade away and Medvedev then lost in his first match in the French capital too. He heads to Stuttgart badly needing to recover form.
Reaching the final in Barcelona showed Medvedev is good enough to mix it in strong competition and he may see the change in surface as a chance to regroup and start again.
He has a bye into the second round of the MercedesCup as he is among the top seeds, with Lucas Pouille – winner of this tournament back in 2017 – potentially his opening opponent.
Medvedev’s price of 11/2 reflects the fact he is without a doubt one of the most talented players in the field, but his run of recent results ought to be enough to put backers off this week.
Instead, Lucas Pouille might just prove to be among the best value selections on offer in the betting odds for the MercedesCup. He lost the first set of the final to Feliciano Lopez two years ago but bounced back in style to claim the title, with his price of 25/1 well worth considering here.
MercedesCup Best Bets
Favourites Zverev and Medvedev are both hard to recommend for different reasons – the German lacking pedigree on grass while the Russian heads to Stuttgart in a poor run of form.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga might just be the man to take advantage of an open looking field, with the experienced Frenchman available to back at a price of around the 7/1 mark.
Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils is even bigger at 12/1 and he has a great chance to go deep into the tournament, while fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille is a solid each-way pick at 25/1.
It could also be the type of tournament where one of the young guns on the ATP tour makes a splash. Rising Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is in the top quarter of the draw with the top seed Zverev, is another tempting option at odds of 14/1 to win the MercedesCup.