Try an outsider in Istanbul
Of the three ATP events this week, it is Istanbul where I am least certain. Several high profile players are in town, but what their motivation is remains to be seen.
Istanbul has been won previously by Roger Federer in the inaugural event, and by Diego Schwartzman last year, who benefited from a moment of lunacy by Grigor Dimitrov that led to the Bulgarian being disqualified in the final.
Marin Cilic has taken a wildcard into this event and if he is motivated there is reason for him to do well here. Cilic has entered a lot of events in 2017 but has yet to get his season rolling. However, the first half of the year is traditionally where he struggles. Last year he had limited action on the clay courts and lost to Marco Trungelliti in the first round of the French Open.
Cilic has much to make up for and found his best week of the season so far when he made the quarter final of Monte Carlo in his first clay outing of 2017.
Milos Raonic heads the draw, but he has had a stop-start season because of injury and surely he won’t be playing at his usual level, especially on the clay that is his least productive period of the year.
Let’s examine the draw quarter by quarter to see if there are betting opportunities to be had.
The aforementioned Raonic leads the way and he has landed in a fortunate section.
Bernard Tomic hates the clay and is likely in town for a spot of sightseeing. Aljaz Bedene and Rogerio Dutra Silva have been in good form over the past eight weeks and they have the opposite problem than the number one seed Raonic in that they have maybe played too much tennis lately.
Raonic may be vulnerable from the start but there is enough reason to see him escape out of the starting blocks.
The entrants in the second quarter could have a good chance at making the final.
There are three players who may find an opening if they play their cards right. Paolo Lorenzi is a clay court journeyman, who lives for this part of the season and regularly scraps himself into the latter rounds. Karen Khachanov had a great week in Barcelona, but he has still finding his feet on the tour and has no track record of consistency so far in his career.
A player I am warm on at the moment is Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Georgian has been playing well without necessarily bringing in the wins. His numbers look impressive and from an unseeded berth he made the final in Kitzbuhel last season. The Austrian event may be different conditions to here, but with the potential of Basilashvili I can see him finding a good week before long.
Defending champion Diego Schwartzman leads the way here. As was already mentioned the diminutive Argentine scored the trophy last year through a moment of madness from Grigor Dimitrov.
Schwartzman could go well here again but will likely have a tough match with Borna Coric should they make the quarter finals. That is a tough one to call, but the winner will make the semis.
This section is headed by Marin Cilic, and I am taking a chance on the Croatian bringing some motivation this week.
Cilic has decent numbers on the clay and his record as a seed in this level of event is actually quite strong. It would be a rare title for Cilic on the clay but with a weak entry list before him he would be my favourite to find success if he applies himself to the task in hand.
Cilic 3 units @4/1 BetVictor
Basilashvili 3units E/W @25/1 Coral