After the excitement of Wimbledon comes a return to the regular rhythm of the ATP tour, with many of the world’s top players heading to Umag to compete in the 2017 Croatia Open.
Fabio Fognini is the defending champion at this event and he will be looking to retain his crown having confirmed his participation in the tournament again. But a strong line-up means he is going to have a lot of competition for the title, with the likes of Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Benoit Paire set to compete in Umag.
Best Betting Sites for the Croatian Open:
The home hope comes from Borna Coric, seeking to become the first Croatian to win the event on his home soil since Marin Cilic crushed Marcel Granollers in the 2012 final.
A return to clay courts will be welcomed by many of the players at the Croatia Open who struggled to make an impression in the short grass season, with the main draw set to get under way on Monday.
The main court at the competition is named after Croatia’s most famous tennis player Goran Ivanisevic, who believes the event is in for one of its most successful years.
“This year, the tournament in Umag has an unbelievable width that guarantees great tennis on all seven days of the tournament,” 2001 Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic said.
“Goffin is one of the most exciting players on the tour. With him, Monfils, Fognini, Coric and all the other players, the spectators are in for one of the best tournaments in the past 10 years.”
Outright Croatian Open Betting Odds
We’ll be looking at some of the best Croatian Open picks below, but first we begin with a quick look at the outright betting odds for the top 20 players competing this week. The first table below is directed for all our readers outside the United States with odds compared across the best international tennis bookmakers. The second table is for our US-based readers with odds taken from the top US-friendly betting sites.
Each table only lists the top 20 players according to the odds, but you can follow the links at the bottom of any column to visit that betting site and get odds on the entire field. And remember, our post continues below with previews of the top talent heading into the 2017 Croatian Open.
Fognini starts among the favourites for this month’s Croatia Open and rightly so, as the Italian has a strong record at this event, which must count as one of his favourite weeks on the tour.
He beat Andrej Martin in straight sets in last year’s final to make amends for his defeat in the final to Tommy Robredo in 2013. The Croatia Open last year is Fognini’s most recent title.
All four of Fognini’s career titles have come on clay courts so he will be a big threat in the draw for this event, while he beat world number one Andy Murray at the Italy Open back in May.
There are no players of the quality of Murray in this year’s Croatia Open – the tournament’s proximity to Wimbledon means top stars usually skip this event – so Fognini deserved to be considered among the leading names.
And Ivanisevic is certainly a fan of the talented Italian, who should go far at this event.
“He is one of the most exciting players on the court. He even reminds me a little bit of myself from my days on the tour as you never know what you can expect from him, and you never know which version of him will appear on the court,” said Ivanisevic.
“But once the real Fabio comes out on the court, as was the case in Umag last year, then you know you’ll get top-quality tennis.”
At odds of 13/2 to win the Croatia Open, he must be considered one of the best value picks.
Goffin the Star Name
Securing Goffin’s name in the draw should be considered a coup for the Croatian Open, with the Belgian the top-ranked player at the tournament.
Goffin was ranked 13 in the world before Wimbledon and he is looking to get back into the top 10, although his season has been disrupted by an ankle injury.
The 26-year-old should be coming towards the peak years of his career and has long been considered a future Grand Slam champion if he is able to fulfil his massive potential.
Goffin skipped Wimbledon to recover from his ankle problem and if he is fit he should be a major threat in the draw for the Croatian Open.
But it is 2014 since Goffin was able to win a title – one of his two career crowns came on the clay courts of Kitzbuhel – so there remain some doubts about his mental aptitude under pressure.
Goffin’s year to date record reads 31 wins and 12 losses so he will be looking to improve that record in the coming week at Umag, although he is excited to get started.
“I would like to thank the tournament director Lawrence Frankopan and the team in Umag for giving me the chance to play in Croatia for the first time in my professional career,” he said. “I heard many great things about the event in Umag and I am looking forward to experiencing it.”
Goffin can be backed at 12/5 to win the Croatia Open and as long as he is fully recovered from that ankle injury he should go a long way in the draw.
Local tennis fans will be backing Borna Coric to succeed this week, with the 20-year-old the leading Croatian contender in the draw for this tournament.
Coric has reached the quarter-final stage twice at Umag – he lost to finalist Fognini in 2013 – and at the start of his career his first ever wins on the ATP tour came on these clay courts.
Umag is therefore a special event for the youngster – he could not compete last year due to Davis Cup commitments with Croatia – and he is keen to impress the home fans.
“I’m very happy I’ll get to compete in Umag once again. That’s definitely my favourite tournament in the calendar,” Coric said when his participation in the event was confirmed.
“I’m on my home ground, with an excellent support, and I can enjoy myself with my family and friends. Even the conditions on the court suit me. I like playing at Stella Maris. That is why last year I was especially sad that my national team obligations had kept me from coming to Umag.”
Coric may be considered among the outsiders in the draw, but he is certainly capable of causing a shock or two, having beaten Murray at the Madrid Open earlier in the year, getting through to his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final as a result.
He moved up 18 spots to No. 41 in the Emirates ATP Rankings as a result, although he has since dropped back to 45, but Ivanisevic believes Coric has a bright future in the game.
“Borna has a huge potential, he is the future top-10 player! There is a lot of room for improvement, and that’s a good thing,” the Croatian tennis legend said. “He will be difficult to beat in Umag and that is why nobody will have it easy playing against him. He will also be additionally motivated to do well in front of the home crowd.”
Odds of 14/1 for Coric to win in Umag are big but he could give you a run for your money.
Monfils a Threat
Among the other recognisable names competing at the Croatian Open is the popular Frenchman Monfils, a regular fixture in the top 20 of the world rankings.
Monfils has played in Umag twice before but has never reached the final of the event, which could put some people off from backing him when the tournament gets under way.
A six-time champion on the ATP Tour, Monfils has not lifted a trophy at a clay-court tournament since 2005, when he claimed his first career title at Sopot in Poland.
“Seeing as the matches are played either in the afternoon or in the evening, we can all enjoy the things that Umag has to offer and that make it a unique event on the ATP Tour,” said Monfils.
Monfils made it through to the third round at Wimbledon before the 14th seed suffered a shock loss to Adrian Mannarino, while he went one step further at Roland Garros before losing to eventual runner-up Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.
The 30-year-old made it through to the final of the grass-court event at Eastbourne, however, before being beaten by former world number one Novak Djokovic, so he does have some form behind him. He also has a decent pedigree on clay despite the lack of titles on this surface, Monfils reaching the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo last year.
At 3/1 to win the Croatia Open, Monfils does not have the most appealing odds but his fans will always back him to go far in tournaments.
Watch out for Simon and Kohlschreiber
The talent pool at this year’s Croatia Open is deep, with Simon and Kohlschreiber two other players who will be expecting to enjoy a strong run at the tournament this year.
Ranked 36 in the world before Wimbledon, Simon is a 12-time ATP champion who has won five times on clay, although the most recent of those successes came in Bucharest in 2012.
Now 32, Simon may be winding down and he has lost more matches on the tour this year than he has won, but he can still be a major threat if he produces his best tennis here.
Another man to look out for in the draw is German player Kohlschreiber, who has been as high as 16 in the world rankings. With five of his seven ATP titles coming at clay court events, the 33-year-old will be happy to play on his strongest surface after a difficult year.
Kohlschreiber suffered first round exits at Wimbledon and the French Open, but he reached the quarter-finals in Stuttgart recently and he is a player of fine pedigree.
The last player to keep an eye on in Umag is the flamboyant Frenchman Benoit Paire, who got through to the fourth round at Wimbledon before finding defending champion Murray too strong.
Paire won the only ATP title of his career at Bastad in 2015, so he has lifted a trophy on clay before, but he can be a frustrating player to watch due to his erratic shot selection.
But on his day Paire is capable of beating anyone and he could threaten at odds of 14/1.