With the clay court season now firmly behind us, the tour moves to London and the grass courts of Queens Club.
The AEGON Championships in London
are underway but with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic not in attendance and British No. 1, Andy Murray dropping out in the second round, there is a chance for one
of the lower ranked players to really put a stamp on these championships and
give themselves a real confidence boost ahead of Wimbledon.
Both Andy Murray and Andy Roddick have won
this event in the past, and Murray
actually arrived here as the defending champion and pre tournament favourite
with the bookmakers. Whilst Roddick has clearly been nowhere near the player he
was this season, he was still expected to turn it on here at Queens.
Both men were eliminated from the
competition by Frenchmen on Wednesday afternoon in London. Murray
succumbed to Nicolas Mahut, whilst Roddick was defeated by Eduardo
Roger-Vaseline. Whilst both managed to take a set before being defeated, they
will be ruing the missed opportunity of getting in some good grass court
practice ahead of SW19.
Of the names left in the draw, Jo-Wilfried
Tsonga is currently the favourite with the tennis odds makers. It's easy to see
why. Having reached the final of this event last year, Tsonga went on to defeat
Roger Federer in five stunning sets at Wimbledon.
The Frenchman is up to world no.5 this year and has probably been playing the
most consistent tennis of his career.
Having held four match points over Novak
Djokovic in Paris
last week, Tsonga could still have that disappointment on his mind. However,
with Andy Murray no longer in contention, I think Tsonga has the confidence to
stamp his authority on this event and go one step further than last year. He'd
be my top tennis betting pick for the title, and if he can win it, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could well
be a dark horse for Wimbledon.
Janko Tipsarevic is another man who will fancy
his chances and he too will be looking to his grass court success in Eastbourne last year, when he reached the final, only to
be defeated by Andreas Seppi. Just like Tsonga, Tipsarevic has added some much
needed consistency to his game and with both Tipsarevic and Tsonga looking
destined for a semi-final showdown, we could definitely see the winner of that
one going on to lift the trophy.
Looking further down the list of players
left in the event, there are a couple of names that stand out and they will
both have their chances.
Nicolas Mahut may not have been on anyone's
list of likely winners here in London, but having played some outstanding
tennis to knock out the top seed, Andy Murray, he has posted a little reminder
to all those who've forgotten his grass court pedigree. Mahut would certainly
name grass as his favourite surface and having defeated Rafa Nadal at this very
event, he has also been within one point of winning the title here. Mahut can
currently be backed at 10/1 and as he plays in the opposite side of the draw to
Tsonga and Tipsarevic, the exit of Andy Murray has opened things up nicely for
The other man who I feel can now make his
way through the top half of the draw is Argentinean, David Nalbandian. Nalbandian
can play on grass and it shouldn't be forgotten that the 30-year-old did play
in a Wimbledon final 10 years ago. He has
never won a grass court title and with time running out on his career, I get
the feeling he may be very well motivated to give this one a good crack.
Elsewhere, Marin Cilic and Feliciano Lopez
will both feel they can go deep into the event, whilst 33/1 outsider, Sam
Querrey won this title just two years ago and may be a tough opponent for
Tsonga in the last eight.
It's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for me, but at 9/1
if Nalbandian can make it through the top half of the draw, I'd certainly give
him every chance against anybody in the final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 6/4
Janko Tipsarevic - 6/1
Marin Cilic - 6/1
David Nalbandian - 9/1
Nicolas Mahut - 10/1
Feliciano Lopez - 14/1
Sam Querrey - 33/1