With the Olympic Tennis just days away, a
slightly weakened field competes for the Farmer's Classic in Los Angeles this week.
The big favourite for this one, ahead of
the opening matches, is Sam Querrey. Having won this event twice in the last
three years, Querrey will be casting an eye over the rest of the field here and
knowing he has every opportunity to make it three wins out of four in LA.
It's been a busy summer so far for Querrey.
He has played in Newport and Atlanta over the last fortnight and those events
came of the back of a third round Wimbledon defeat to Marin Cilic, which went
down as the second longest match in Wimbledon history, beaten into second place
only by the historic Isner v Mahut epic of 2010.
The main problem for Querrey is that after
winning this event and a clutch of other titles in 2010, the American has not
gone on to win another title since. He was just 22 at the time and things were
looking really positive for the future, however two years on, the progress has
most certainly stalled.
I feel Querrey will have every motivation
to kick on and go for this title and I certainly see him as the favourite.
Speaking of Nicolas Mahut, he is the second
favourite with the bookies and he too will appreciate that he has a real chance
of success at this hard court event. Unlike Querrey, Mahut has never gone deep
into this event but the Frenchman has been playing some consistent tennis in
recent months and he'll be relishing the opportunity to win, what would only be
the sixth title of his career. Perhaps not known for his hard court prowess,
Mahut has actually recorded two of his five previous event wins in 2012, and
they both came on the hard courts of Montpellier
In fact, intriguingly everyone of Mahut's victories have come on hard courts
and all of them have been won on his own home soil.
Mahut certainly has a chance here this
week, but does he really believe he can go all the way and win an event outside
of his own country? At 30 years of age, you get the feeling that if he did, he
would already have done it.
Elsewhere in the draw, there are certainly
two or three names who are well capable of notching themselves a title here
James Blake knows his best days are well
and truly behind him, but he loves it here under the Californian sun and has
always performed well in his own country. Blake will be disappointed at never
having won this event, although he was a beaten finalist here in 2007. Aged 32,
Blake hasn't won a title on the tour now in five years but at 22/1 for success
in such a weak field, he could just prove a bit of Californian value.
Xavier Malisse is the third favourite for
the event and actually comes in as the defending doubles champion. Like Blake,
Malisse is now 32 and won't have an awful lot left in the tank. Where Blake is
playing in front of his home fans and would love to win it for them, Belgian
Malisse probably won't have quite the same motivation and I don't see a lot of
value in the 7/1 currently on offer.
If you're looking for a real outsider then
German Tobias Kamke can be backed at 33/1 and has been known to spring a few
surprises here and there. Kamke actually has three titles to his name, all of
which have come on hard courts. He was a winner over Milos Raonic in the final
at Granby two
years ago and recorded a straight sets victory over Ryan Harrison in Tiburon
the same year.
It's Sam Querrey for me, but look out for
Blake and Kamke. With such great value they could be worth each way
consideration as part of your tennis picks.