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BOSS and Libema Open tips: Ben Shelton and Jordan Thompson to build pre-Wimbledon momentum

Planet Sport tennis expert Derek Bilton looks ahead to a couple of ATP tournaments as the grass season gets underway.

Carlos Alcaraz took home a cheque of €2,400,000 after playing for 20 hours and 42 minutes in Paris. That is not bad work if you can get it. And while the cash is obviously important to ‘Carlitos’, winning the French Open title many thought it was his destiny to claim was what really mattered.

The Spanish third seed won 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 against Alexander Zverev. It was a bit of a scrappy final at times on the iconic Roland Garros clay, but Alcaraz will not care. Leading the way with a big smile, humility and mind-blowing tennis, the future is here.

Zverev perhaps summed it up best in his post-match interview when he said, “We’re both physically strong, but he’s a beast”.

The pace is a little more serene this week, with a couple of 250 events and the start of an extended grass-court season.

It’s a bit of a surprise that after his exertions in Paris that Zverev hasn’t withdraw from Stuttgart, and for now he takes his place as the top seed at the BOSS Open. He will likely feature for the first time on Thursday, giving his body and mind a chance to rest and reset.

There were periods in Sunday’s final where the Zverev serve looked in untouchable form. If he was doing that type of damage on slow clay against one of the best returners in the world, what type of havoc could the serve wreak on grass this week?

If he was dialled in and 100% mentally and physically then Zverev would be the smart play here. However, having lost yet another Grand Slam final after being ahead, one wonders where his head will be?

Instead, Ben Shelton in the other half of the draw looks interesting at 10/1. Shelton has only played five tour-level matches on grass in his young career, but he is learning all the time.

His serve is a bomb and his game looks tailor made for grass. He is already one of the biggest servers on the ATP Tour and his draw looks decent in Germany.

The 21-year-old will play a qualifier in the second round (he has a first-round bye) and will look to nail down a second ATP title of 2024 after triumphing on clay in Houston earlier this year.

We also have the Libema Open in Den Bosch. Alex De Minaur is a 4/1 favourite in an event that looks wide open. The Aussie arrives in the Netherlands in confident mood, after surpassing expectations and reaching his second major quarter-final at Roland Garros.

De Minaur is a grafter who always gives 100% and is decent on most surfaces, but may struggle against some dynamite servers here on what is likely to be a super-fast surface.

Sixth seed Tallon Griekspoor soared to the crown on home soil last year, beating Jordan Thompson in a high-octane, three-set final. Dutch star Griekspoor will have plenty of support this year too, but Thompson’s price looks interesting at 18/1.

The Aussie’s best results have come on quicker terrain, and he has twice been a finalist here (2023 and 2019). Maybe his price can be explained by the fact he has to face former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic first up? However the Canadian has had a horrendous time with injuries in the last few years and who knows where his game is right now given he has not played for 12+ weeks. If Thompson can get through that – and he will start as favourite by the way – his draw opens up a bit.

Put simply, the man with the Freddy Mercury-esque moustache looks too big at 18s.


Suggested bets

Tip #1: Ben Shelton to win the BOSS Open at 10/1

Tip #2: Jordan Thompson to win the Libema Open at 18/1

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