ATP Picks: Johannesburg, Zagreb, Vina Del Mar, Montpellier

Zagreb

Croats have done well here and I see no reason this won’t continue, although they’re getting a little creaky these days. Ljubicic and Karlovic are no Gazelles, so the bets of 3 format, indoors suits them well. No Cilic and defending champ Dodig has not been firing yet.

A few players are coming off injuries such as Alex ‘Back in the USSR’ Bogomolov and so long as he has any rackets left, Marcos ‘Bagman’ Baghdatis is bringing some match toughness to bear. Pick of the first round should be Mikhail Youzhny vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky. Garcia-Lopez is dangerous indoors and is unseeded, so he get’s my Dark Horse card.

Let’s break it down:

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Ivan Dodig

Dark Horse: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

My pick: Ivan Ljubicic

Did You Know? Croatian winners in Zagreb include: Ivan Ljubicic, Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in 2011

Watch: Zagreb Uncovered

Vina Del Mar

The Movistar Open returns to Viña del Mar, perhaps after complaints about the courts last year(?).

All the usual suspects are here for this one, including token wildcards for their services to Chilean tennis over the years, Olympic Gold winners Fernando ‘Gonzo’ Gonalez and Nicolas Massu. Both will find it tough-going but good to see them back.

The Argentines should dominate here between the Juans Monaco and Chela and I’m waiting for ‘Newcomer of the Year’ 2010, Horacio Zeballos to do something. Tough to pick a winner, since I’ve seen most of these players blast away each other at different times, it will come down to who’s had enough time to get some clay practice in but I’m going with Bellucci, who’s got game.

Let’s break it down:

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: Tommy Robredo

Dark Horse: Joao Souza

My pick: Thomaz Bellucci

Montpellier

This event was shifted from last year to now and the French are in force once again, including some big names.

Tomas ‘Bird Man/Brain’ Berdych will look to erase the memory of Australia with some quick wins and Gilles Simon looks to have a decent draw but my dark horse and favorite name to spell, Vasek Popisil, is in his quarter.

Unless it’s the French Open, the French often win these smaller tournies in France, so I expect them to dominate here. Paul Henri Mathieu (remember him) gets a wildcard.

Let’s break it down:

Surface: Indoor Hard

Defending Champion: Gael ‘Force’ Monfils

Dark Horse: Vasek Popisil

My pick: Tomas Berdych

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