ATP Tour continues after Nadal's epic comeback
In what turned out to be an epic Australian Open, Rafa Nadal fought back from two sets down to edge Daniil Medvedev in five, and gave this column another winner in what was a pretty positive tournament overall.
Moving on though, the ATP Tour doesn't stop and there are three 250 level events taking place throughout the coming week on three different surfaces. Hard court action continues in Pune, India, where there were a few matches earlier today in a low-profile start to the tournament.
Karatsev a strong favourite against weak field in Pune
Low-profile is a recurring theme this week with some pretty weak fields in general. In Pune, for example, Aslan Karatsev, Gianluca Mager, Jiri Vesely and Lorenzo Musetti are seeds with first round byes, and all are either Challenger Tour regulars or have been plying their trade on that tour for a good chunk of their career.
Karatsev is the very strong market favourite at around 2.255/4 currently, and statistically, he does look reasonably dominant over what looks a very weak event. Emil Ruusuvuori also looks pretty justified as second favourite, and there's very few realistic contenders subsequently - perhaps Lorenzo Musetti might be one given his upside, although that's generally been on clay. In summary though, the market doesn't look out of line at all with its expectations.
Zverev a surprise entrant in Montpellier
The other hard court event is in Montpellier this week, but it is indoors, with some stronger seeds at least in France. Top seed Alexander Zverev is a surprise entrant, while the likes of Gael Monfils, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Roberto Bautista-Agut are also seeds not having to compete in the opening round.
Zverev is a strong favourite here in France, at 2.447/5 - a similar price to Karatsev in Pune - but he does have some decent competition here from those seeds, plus also some players on an upward curve such as Tallon Griekspoor and Ugo Humbert. There are also a number of competent players at big prices, such as Soonwoo Kwon, Ilya Ivashka and Adrian Mannarino, while some French veterans (notably Tsonga and Gasquet) might view this as a chance to get a final ATP title - both have won the event previously.
Basilashvili's quarter three looks the most competitive, without any huge favourite to progress to the latter stages. Qualifier Kasper Zuk has high potential, while Filip Krajinović and the aforementioned Tsonga also have to overcome a tricky 2021 season.
Thiem's second favourite on return to tour
Over in Cordoba, there's the first clay tournament to take place in 2022 on the main tour, and it looks pretty competitive in Argentina. Diego Schwartzman is top seed in his home country, but perhaps the main talking point ahead of the tournament is the return to tour of Dominic Thiem, who returns to tour after over six months absent with a wrist injury.
Schwartzman edges Thiem as the outright market favourite, and the big intangible is Thiem in this draw - we simply don't know how he will perform, or his fitness level, ahead of this tournament. Lorenzo Sonego and Cristian Garín are the next tier of players in the outright.
Thiem does have a way to ease into the tournament though, with a first round bye and a round two clash with either Tomas Etcheverry or Nicolas Jarry, and then a possible quarter-final with Pedro Martinez. That's probably as good a draw as he could have asked for.
In theory at least, Thiem will face Sonego in the semi-finals, but the Italian could be vulnerable against the likes of Holger Rune or Albert Ramos.
The 18 year old Dane, Rune, picked up a few clay titles in Challengers last year and looks to be a young player of very high potential, and he could well make a run at a huge price (around the 30.0029/1 mark) this week.
Sean Calvert has taken a look at some of the individual matches taking place this week.
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