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Jack Sock to beat Cristian Garin at +100 at Caesars Sportsbook
Yannik Hanfmman to beat Carlos Taberner at +105 at DraftKings
Albert Ramos-Vinolas to win ATP Marrakech at +1000 at FanDuel
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Garin is the defending champion in Houston but that success came three years ago, the last two editions having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back then he arrived as a real force in claycourt tennis but at present he’s very much a fading force.
Having struggled with a shoulder injury which he’s admitted he can’t shake off, Garin has won just three of his 10 matches in 2022.
He’s subsequently slipping down the rankings and with points from his 2019 triumph still on his record, Garin will be under pressure to perform this week.
“I feel more mature, more patient out there. I’m ready to do some damage again.”
Indian Wells doubles champion @JackSock92 will end the Sunshine Swing with a 1-2 main-draw singles record, but with confidence that he’s on the right track in his road back from injury:
— TENNIS (@Tennis) March 25, 2022
Given his troubles, I’m not sure he should be favourite against Sock, a player who has always performed well in Houston in the past.
He’s twice been to the final, winning the title in 2015, and there’s a good reason for his success on the Texas clay.
This isn’t the slow red dirt of Europe but instead plays much quicker and it’s historically aided the bigger servers – as well as Sock, Andy Roddick and John Isner are on the roll of honour.
Admittedly, Sock is more of a doubles player these days – he recently won the title in Indian Wells – but he’s played some decent singles matches recently too, notably pushing Stefanos Tsitsipas to a final-set tie-break in Indian Wells.
After his recent loss in Miami, the former top-10 player spoke positively about his 2022 form.
“I think I’m definitely back to some of my best form if not ever. I feel more mature, more patient out there. I’m ready to do some damage again.”
At +100, Sock looks worth a go here.
Over in Marrakech, Hanfmann looks a half-decent outsider worth backing.
There’s some altitude involved at the Moroccan venue with the city around 450m above sea level.
That should play into the hands of Hanfmann, whose two ATP finals have both come at a considerable height – in Gstaad and Kitzbuhel.
The German recently made the quarter-finals in Santiago, another event played at a significant altitude, where seed Federico Coria was among his victims.
Taberner doesn’t have that same level of success at altitude and while he did win a Challenger on clay earlier his season, that was down on the Italian coast where conditions were much different to those he’ll find in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
He’ll be making his debut at this tournament and I believe Hanfmann’s greater ball control in these conditions can help him win the day.
The top four seeds all receive byes into round two in Houston and the one who could be vulnerable is John Isner.
The 2013 champion is likely to be up against fellow American Steve Johnson, who himself has won the title here twice (in 2017 and 2018).
Most significantly, Johnson has won the pair’s last five meetings, staying in sets by holding his own serve with regularity and often picking off his more famous foe in tie-breaks.
Johnson will likely be a tempting outsider in any such clash, while those breakers will also be on the cards.
Six of their 10 ‘first sets’ have had a 7-6 scoreline, while eight of the 10 matches have featured at least one TB. In total, 14 of the 28 sets they’ve played have gone the distance.
In short, it will be worth keeping an eye on tie-break markets.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas loves playing at altitude and the Spaniard should go well in Marrakech this week.
He was the champion at a similar altitude in Cordoba back in February. His run there means he’s now played seven of his 11 ATP Tour finals at least 400m above sea level. One of the four others came in Morocco – at this tournament when it was held down on the coast in Casablanca.
La foto #AXIONenergy del día es para @albertramos88 tras su consagración en la cuarta edición del #CordobaOpen ❤️ pic.twitter.com/IIZXjscWyJ
— Córdoba Open (@CordobaOpen) February 7, 2022
The top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime lacking the same claycourt nous and out of form in recent weeks, Ramos-Vinolas looks worthy of support at +1000.
Given the US audience, it’s also worth mentioning Tommy Paul as a useful outsider in Houston.
The 2015 Junior French Open champion has been in fine form so far in 2022 and is continuing to climb the rankings.
He was a semi-finalist on clay in Parma last season and should be one American happy to be back on the surface.
With a recent win over world number three Alex Zverev under his belt, Paul will be going off at a decent price this week.
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|ATP Marrakech & Houston Information|
|What||ATP Grand Prix Hassan II; ATP Fayez Sarofim & Co US Clay Court Championship|
|Location||Marrakech, Morocco; Houston, TX, USA|
|Time||Monday April 4 to Sunday April 10|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
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Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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