Impossible to see past Fog
By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement. Last Updated: 21/07/13 8:24pm
Fabio Fognini: Looking to land hat-trick of titles
Tennis tipster Tim Clement explains why he is backing Juan Monaco to crash Roger Federer's homecoming and Fabio Fognini to continue his impressive run.
Opposable favourites are the theme for this week's ATP Tour events, headlined by Roger Federer being odds-on to bounce back from his shock semi-final exit in Hamburg when he returns home to the clay of Gstaad.
The world number five suffered another huge upset in losing in straight sets to world 114 Federico Delbonis, adding to the disappointment of his second-round exit at Wimbledon.
Saturday's loss means Federer his last two defeats have come to players outside the top 100, something that had not previously happened since 2005, when a promising Richard Gasquet beat him on in Monte Carlo.
Indeed, three of Federer's for last four defeats to players ranked 100 or lower have come on clay, while he has only won one title on the surface since 2009, with that being on the much maligned blue clay of Madrid last year.
The other concern is how quickly Federer will adjust to his change new racket, which he used for the first time in Germany.
He is least likely to reap the benefits of his extra power on a surface which demands discipline and endurance, but it will be interesting to see how much more aggressive he can be in the two Masters events next month.
So if you are brave enough to oppose Federer on home dirt, who to back instead?
Second seed Stanislas Wawrinka (3/1) naturally sits next in line and has already claimed a title on clay this year, beating David Ferrer in the Portugal Open final back in April.
However, your bet slip come the final won't be worth much unless somebody else has already taken Federer out, given he has lost their last 11 clashes.
Janko Tipsarevic offers no appeal as he endures a wretched run of form, which has seen him slump down from 9th to 16th in the rankings since March, failing to make it past the last 16 in any of his last 13 events.
Juan Monaco (14/1) is the interesting one for me given his love for the red dirt, having collected four titles on the surface since last July, more than any other contender in the field.
2013 has been slightly disappointing for him and he is in Federer's half, so going on the nose with modest stakes at 16/1 with Coral is the way I'll be going.
Two-time winner Thomaz Bellucci is another interesting option at a big price but it is worth waiting to see if he can successfully navigate a first-round meeting with Federer's conqueror Delbonis.
It looks a big ask for Delbonis giving he will surely be fatigued and somewhat disheartened after passing up three match points in his final defeat in Hamburg.
Bellucci is only just coming back from an abdominal injury so it is also worth checking on his condition, while his price is unlikely to shorten much should he make the second round.
The Italian has racked up back-to-back titles on the clay in Stuttgart and Hamburg, giving us reason to oppose favourite Richard Gasquet.
Gasquet has not won a title on clay since 2010 and lost to Fognini in their last meeting in Monte Carlo, their only clash on the surface in question.
Fatigue is naturally a concern given the amount of tennis played but he was fresh heading into the mini-clay swing after a first-round exit at Wimbledon.
Alexander Dolgopolov is my other liking due to his impressive record here, having won it in 2011 and reached the semis last year, but his consistency is always a concern.
I was very impressed with him at Wimbledon but you have to feel there is a limit to what he can achieve given his unorthodox technique.
Over on the hard courts in Atlanta, John Isner will be looking to get over the final hurdle after losing there in the final twice then the semis last year.
The price seems fair but his form does not convince me to part with my money after he lost to Leyton Hewitt in Newport last week.
With nobody else in the field capturing my attention, I'll refrain from attempting to flog any dead horses.