ATP AEGON Championships, London – Monday 11th June until Sunday 17th June 2012

Green is very much the colour this week and not because the Irish are in action over in Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. At long last, grass court tennis features on the ATP calendar for the first time this year with players frequenting England and Germany for events in London and Halle respectively.

To reflect on the previous two weeks, it remains unclear as I write this piece who the 2012 Men’s French Open champion is due to inclement weather. From what we saw on Sunday however, the final is shaping up to be some contest. Nadal currently leads 2-1 on sets with Djokovic a break up in the fourth. Clearly, that match has some mileage in yet. In terms of my pre-tournament picks, followers of mine on Twitter benefitted from an 8/1 selection of Maria Sharapova on the women’s side of things, whereas regular readers of my BETDAQ column were advised to back Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer, the latter making the last four and ultimately trading around half that of his pre-tournament price. All in all, a fairly profitable fortnight.

Moving back to the forthcoming tournaments on tour and Rafael Nadal’s participation at Halle this coming week has to be in some doubt. A marathon final against Djokovic in Paris, coupled with a slight concern that Sunday’s final may not just run over into Monday but Tuesday also could subsequently see Nadal withdraw from Halle in preparation for Wimbledon, commencing in just fourteen days time. Nadal aside, Roger Federer looks a likely candidate for the title in Germany, especially as he has won the tournament five times previously. Naturally there are threats lurking within the draw, namely Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic but with ample preparation time for Federer to become accustomed to the grass, I think he could take all the beating in Halle, with or without Nadal participating.

Elsewhere, the prestigious Queen’s Club in south west London plays host to the AEGON championships, where Andy Murray will be looking to win a hat trick of titles. As top seed and defending champion, he’s likely to start quite a warm favourite and perhaps rightly so. With temperatures not expected to rise significantly, damp courts to contend with, and seemingly still having problems with his back, I’d be inclined to look elsewhere in the draw for a spot of value.

Marin Cilic has started to find a little bit of form on tour of late. Finalist on the clay in Munich, Cilic can boast a quarter final appearance here twelve months ago and but for a withdrawal due to injury, would have played Andy Murray for a place in the last four. Cilic is clearly at home on the grass and with good reason. He serves big and hits the ball even bigger so must be a realistic contender this week. He’d probably need to beat Marcos Baghdatis in the last sixteen, Janko Tipsarevic in the last eight and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi finals before a likely final with home favourite Andy Murray. Not a foregone conclusion by any means but as outlined previously, Cilic has certainly shown some improved form on tour this year and if transferring the form from clay to grass, I think he has every chance of contending.

AEGON Championships, London: Selection – Marin Cilic
Gerry Weber Open, Halle: Selection – Roger Federer

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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