We took down a 7/1 winner last week as Marin Cilic won at Queen’s Club and are hoping for more of the same this week as the grass-court action continues.
All eyes will be on Devonshire Park given the fact former world No 1 Andy Murray has accepted a wild card to play at the Nature Valley International.
Murray of course only made his comeback to the Tour last week after nearly a year out, and gave a good account of himself before being done in three sets by Aussie maverick Nick Kyrgios. ‘Muzza’ looked decent for long spells in that brief Queen’s sojourn, and he will be keen to get a few matches under his belt here with Wimbledon now just around the corner.
The good news for Murray is that he has drawn the only man at Eastbourne with a lower ranking than he currently has. The bad news is that man just happens to be Stan Wawrinka.
Former world No 1 Murray – now the British number two – has fallen to 156 in the world rankings, a similar situation to Wawrinka, who is 261st in the rankings following knee surgery and a slower than expected return to top level tennis.
It’s a coin flip right now as to who wins their match, but we do know Kyle Edmund awaits the winner and the British No 1 might be the man to get with at Eastbourne.
Edmund is up to 17 in the world these days and looked in good touch at Queen’s, taking eventual semi-finalist Kyrgios three sets in a high quality match, while also making it to the semis in the doubles.
He plays the sort of lights-out grass‑court tennis the fans will appreciate and a win here would be perfect preparation for Wimbledon.
Elsewhere the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya will never be mistaken for Wimbledon, but there will be a number of players hoping to follow in the footsteps of Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, who won the inaugural event in 2017.
Sugita downed Adrian Mannarino last year to land his first ATP Tour title. Mannarino is the top seed this year but he’s on a poor run, having not won a match since Barcelona back in April.
Early exits at his last five tournaments do not bode well so we are happy to swerve the Frenchman this week at prices around the 6/1 mark. Sugita has hardly been killing it this season either, with a solitary win in Holland last week snapping a run of 10 consecutive defeats on the main Tour.
Gael Monfils is arguably the most recognisable name in the draw but he’s never looked entirely comfortable on the grass and looks to have a very tough gig first up in the shape of Marcos Baghdatis (assuming the Cypriot takes care of business against a qualifier first up).
Damir Dzumhur makes some appeal and is clearly a player on the way up. He hits a big ball but can also be inconsistent and has yet to establish himself on this type of surface.
It’s not a draw that oozes quality in Turkey so gnarled veteran Fernando Verdasco could be the play there. He has always had a very explosive game and unlike a lot of Spaniards is comfortable on grass.
He made the last eight here last year and though he had always been in the shadows of compatriots such as Carlos Moya and Rafael Nadal, he’s very consistent and has spent the last 14 seasons inside the world’s top 50.
Verdasco’s major weapon is his forehand – it remains one of the biggest in the game in terms of power and spin. This allows him to hit with greater clearance over the net and it kicks up viciously off this type of surface.
When he’s ‘on’ the leftie is such a tough opponent to put away and given a lack of big names in the draw he makes plenty of appeal here at 9/1. Here’s hoping Nando comes our smoking this week for as they say in Spain, Donde hay humo, hey calor!
Bilko’s Banker: Kyle Edmund to win the Nature Valley International at 7/1 (Coral)
Best of the Rest: Fernando Verdasco to win the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya at 9/1 (Coral/Paddy Power)
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