ATP Rotterdam - Outright - Berdych
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It is actually a surprise, and shows a lot of intention for the 2012 season, that Roger Federer will be taking part in this event this season. The former World Number 1 has already declared his ambition to get the top position back and he will know that he has half a chance if he can increase his schedule and win a few more events.
With Novak Djokovic having a tonne of points to defend this year up until the US Open, winning events will help reduce the gap between himself and Federer, while the Number 2 position could also be up for grabs.
Federer has been given a fairly straightforward draw and could have no real complaints about that, so it is no surprise to see him as a short favourite to win the event.
There are a couple of tough looking encounters to negotiate, but I would expect Federer to get through against Nicolas Mahut, Mikhail Youzhny, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Richard Gaquet, with the latter two most likely to cause the most problems.
While I have no doubt that Federer is coming to Holland with the intention of winning (why else would he take part in an event he has mostly missed over the years?), I still think it is a little risk to back him at the short odds being offered.
Instead I am going to look at the bottom half of the draw and Number 2 seed at the event, Tomas Berdych- the big Czech player will not be facing the change of surface that Federer is having played in the Davis Cup on an indoor hard court, and he has started magnificently well this season after an inconsistent and disappointing 2011.
Berdych reached the Quarter Final at the Australian Open and pushed Rafael Nadal heavily in that loss, while following that up with a win at the indoor tournament in Marseille last week. He has been in very solid form and should enjoy playing on the courts here in Rotterdam, although he will have a couple of tough tests in his path to the Final.
The big man has a potentially awkward match with Marcos Baghdatis in the 2nd Round that could cause one or two problems, but Berdych has won 3 of their last 4 meetings and I think he is playing at a much higher level than the Cypriot at the moment.
The biggest problem, however, could come in the form of Juan Martin Del Potro, who is seeded to meet Berdych in the Semi Final. The Argentine had won the last two meetings with Berdych, although suffering a number of injuries since then and he has also been given a tough opening match with Michael Llodra who plays his best tennis indoors.
With that tough opener in mind, I think Berdych looks a decent choice to win his second tournament of the season, especially at the decent looking 7.0 being offered at Bet Victor.