Easter Sunday sees the finals being played out in Marrakech and Houston, while the first round of Monte Carlo gets underway. I’m only going to preview the finals today, but from tomorrow I will be previewing and making tips for Monte Carlo.
At around 14:30 UK time, Coric will step onto the court in a bid to win his maiden title, while German Philip Kohlschreiber will be looking to prevent that from happening.
At age 20 and ranked 79th in the world, Coric is a contender for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, a new tournament founded this year aimed at the youngest players on tour. On the other hand, Kohlschreiber is now 33 and will be coming to the end of his career soon, but is still ranked 32 in the world. Their head-to-head reads much in favour of the German, winning both of their encounters to date without having dropped a single set to the Croat.
Kohlschreiber was impressive yesterday, beating Benoit Paire 6-2 6-2, while Coric defeated Vesely 6-4 6-4, without dropping his serve. Coric will almost inevitably be a top-10 player in the not-so-distant future but I think the nerves of winning his maiden title will be too much today. Kohlschreiber on the other hand has won 7 titles in his career and I think his experience will prevail today. Therefore, my tip for today is to back the German to beat Coric 2-0 at odds 2.00
Over in Houston, Texas, we have the American Steve Johnson facing Thomaz Bellucci in the final at around 20:00 UK time.
This is only their second encounter on the tour, and their first on clay. They faced each other last year on the hard courts of the Australian Open and Johnson won in straight sets, but conditions here in Houston are completely different.
Johnson has won only one title in his career, and that was in Nottingham on a grass court. However, Bellucci has won 4 titles and they’ve all been on outdoor clay courts which is a massive confidence boost for the Brazilian, and I think the odds of 1.57 on Steve Johnson are much too short, therefore there is value in backing Bellucci in some way.
On clay, Bellucci has managed to hold serve 77% of the time, just short of Johnson’s 78% service hold record. But, the key factor in deciding this match could be the return games won percentage. Johnson has only managed to win 15% of return games, while Bellucci is up at 22%.
Johnson managed to come from a set down last night against Jack Sock while Bellucci, yet again, had to win in 3 sets. Taking this into account, along with their clay hold/break stats for their careers, I expect Bellucci to make it another 2-1 victory. I believe Bellucci’s class on the clay courts will see him win a fifth title, but Johnson has at least a set in him. So, the best bet for this match is going to be Bellucci to win 2-1 at 5.00
Kohlschreiber to beat Coric 2-0 @ 2.00
Bellucci to beat Johnson 2-1 @ 5.00