ATP Picks: Houston and Casablanca

US Men's Clay Court Tournament

US Men’s Clay Court Tournament

US Men’s Clay Court Championship

Some great openers involving Americans this week. Blake gets Monfils and Isner gets Ryan Harrison with the winner possibly playing Jack ‘Chop’ Sock. The top 4 seeds all look strong to make it through with a potentially good final between Almagro and Haas, who each possess glorious single handed backhands.

Let’s break it down:

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: Juan Monaco – After his stellar 2012, Pico is struggling to win a match this year.

Nasty Floater: Gael ‘Force’ Monfils – Gets James Blake in the first round with a potential match up with Almagro. Total chaos!

Veteran Watch: Lleyton Hewitt – He won here in 2009 and is having a resurgence of sorts, perhaps inspired by Tommy Haas.

Up and Coming: Guido ‘Marx’ Pella – Young Argentine shows promise on clay and could face Querry round 2.

Slumping: Fernando Verdasco – Maybe the clay season can awaken the Spaniard, who’s running out of career.

On Fire: Tommy Haas – The Hitman turned 35 last week and is reminding us why he’s still got the guns. Somebody get a background check on those!

My pick: Nicolas ‘The Hoover’ Almagro – Clay is his business and business is good. Nico loves ATP 250 events and he looks good to pick up 12th title.

Did You Know? It is the only ATP World Tour event in the U.S. contested on clay.

Watch: Houston Uncovered

Watch: 2013 Final Highlights

Grand Prix Hassan II

The Grand Prix Hassan II

The Moroccan event is the weaker event this week but still includes some good talent. Stan Wawrinka is due a title, his last coming in Chennai 2 years ago now. The best opener is a Spanish affair between Albert Montanes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, with two more glorious single handed backhands.

ATP Level: 250

Surface: Outdoor Clay

Defending Champion: Pablo ‘Honey’ Andujar – The back to back champion here has not shown the form of 2012. It would be a surprise if he made it a hat-rick.

Nasty Floater: Tommy ‘Can You Hear Me’ Robredo – The Spaniard has clay pedigree and this is the kind of draw he will fancy to win a few matches.

Veteran Watch:
 Jurgen ‘Tuna’ Melzer – He’s unpredictable from one week to the next, but he’s never to be counted out.

Up and Coming: Roberto Bautista-Agut -His ranking has been on the rise for some time now and  is up to 59.

Slumping: Martin Klizan – Another player to have not picked up from last year after his maiden title.

On Fire: Benoit Paire – Picked up his 3rd career Challenger title last week, which will give him confidence here.

My pick: Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka – He’s due a title and has been playing well so far this year, save for some bad luck.

Did You Know? Casablanca is the only ATP World Tour stop on the African continent.

Watch: 2013 Final Highlights

Thanks for reading and check back next week for more tips, news and musings!

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