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Casper Ruud looks good value to defend his Estoril Open title

After the drama of Miami, the Tour drops down a gear this week with a couple of ATP 250 events.

Nobody will be happier to welcome the European clay swing than Casper Ruud, who can defend his Millennium Estoril Open title this week.

The Norwegian registered the 100th hardcourt victory of his career in Miami recently, but it is on the red dirt where he has enjoyed most of his success and given the mediocre field he looks a play at 15/8 with Planet Sport Bet.

Ruud looks like he has dropped a couple of kilos this season, and that should serve him well on clay, where stamina, cardio and mental toughness are the keys to success.

Ruud was vocal about the poor facilities at the recent Miami Open, so will hopefully feel more at home in Portugal, where he performed brilliantly in winning the title last year.

He has been playing OK this season, reaching the finals in both Los Cabos and Acapulco, but the European clay swing is traditionally when the Norwegian comes alive.

Although he has two Roland Garros finals on his CV, Ruud is a bit of a flat track bully, with nine of his 10 career titles have come at 250 level on clay.

He hits the ball with a lot of spin, and while he rarely plays ‘lights out’ tennis, the Norwegian has been among the best players in the world consistently for the last two years or so, reaching three Grand Slam finals and staying inside the top ten.

He is super solid and ticks all the boxes here, and while 15/8 might not look the biggest price right now, it will look much better come the weekend.

Onto the Fayez Sarofim & Co US Clay Court Championship in Houston, where Ben Shelton looks a less than bomb proof favourite at 4/1.

Shelton is a rare talent, but he has not done much at all on clay in his short career, and while the clay in Houston plays much quicker than it does in Europe, it would be a surprise to see him get it done here.

He lost to Lorenzo Musetti in Miami, and has not made a semi-final since Dallas at the start of February.

US compatriot Frances Tiafoe was a surprise winner in Houston in 2023, and is a 5/1 shot to retain his title.

However, Big Frances is not a natural on clay. Tiafoe plays an aggressive, offensive game that relies on a big serve and big forehand. He is not known for his movement and so could be found out this week.

A smarter play could be Tomas Martín Etcheverry at 7/1. Etcheverry has yet to win on the main Tour, but has captured three ATP Challenger and five ITF titles.

The Argentine made the final here in 2023, losing to Tiafoe in a couple of tie-breaks. He also made the quarter-finals at the French Open, so he clearly knows what he is doing on the red stuff.

Etcheverry owns a thunderous forehand that he likes to pull opponents around the court with. He also has bags of stamina and with a decent draw, 7/1 on him winning Houston looks more than fair.

Suggested bets:

Casper Ruud to win the Millennium Estoril Open

Tomas Martin Etcheverry to win the Fayez Sarofim & Co US Clay Court Championship


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