Following the conclusion of the Australian Open, there are three tournaments taking place this week on the main tour. Dan Weston gives his thoughts on the week ahead...
"Perhaps understandably after a Grand Slam, most of the bigger names on tour have chosen to take some time off following two weeks at Melbourne Park, and the only member of the top 10 taking to the courts this week is Diego Schwartzman."
Top players taking time off following the Australian Open
After a slightly disappointing men's singles final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev yesterday, the ATP Tour moves on with indoor hard and clay tournaments taking place in the coming week.
Perhaps understandably after a Grand Slam, most of the bigger names on tour have chosen to take some time off following two weeks at Melbourne Park, and the only member of the top 10 taking to the courts this week is Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine had a relatively early exit at the Australian Open, and is back in his home country playing on his preferred clay in Cordoba.
Schwartzman favourite in preferred conditions
Given this, we may as well start there, although it's the latest start time of the three events this week. Schwartzman is joined by Guido Pella, Miomir Kecmanovic and Benoit Paire as seeds with first-round byes, although he's out on his own at the top of the outright market at around the 2.707/4 mark on the Exchange.
Historical data suggests that conditions will be a little on the slow side here, so this should also be to Schwartzman's favour, and return-orientated players - of which he is obviously one - have the potential to benefit from this.
We have little to go on in the way of clay level - there hasn't been a clay tournament for a long time now on the main tour - so it's difficult to provide much insight apart from more medium-term data. Another hurdle is that qualifiers are still taking place, which provides further complications given that we don't know which qualifiers will make it through, and where they will be placed in the draw.
One player who looks to have an easier draw on paper is Federico Delbonis who faces a quarter with three qualifiers and wild-card Nicolas Kicker, who has been absent from tour for some time for reasons we won't go into here. He's another Argentine who has solid clay-court numbers in recent years and could be a decent-looking longer shot to make it through to the latter stages.
Millman and Cilic with generous quarters
Starting earlier this morning is ATP Singapore, and there have already been wins for Taro Daniel and Maxime Cressy at the time of writing. Again, there are four seeds with byes, and benefitting from this is Adrian Mannarino, who is top seed, along with Alexander Bublik, Marin Cilic and John Millman.
It's probably reasonable to suggest that this tournament doesn't boast the highest calibre of players ever seen in a 250 level event, and Cilic in particular looks like having a very generous quarter in the third bracket, as does Millman in quarter four. It would be quite a surprise if one of these two didn't make the latter stages. There aren't many prices available in the outright markets at the moment but Millman could be capable of delivering at around the 7.06/1 mark.
Sinner favourite in Montpellier despite Murray clash
Finally, in Montpellier, there's the regular indoor hard action from that tournament at this time of the year. Conditions look likely to be medium-paced for indoor conditions.
Jannik Sinner, Roberto Bautista-Agut and Ugo Humbert lead the outright markets in advance, although it's worth pointing out that only Bautista-Agut is a seed benefiting from a first-round bye - so he has to play one less match than the other two players. Dusan Lajovic, Hubert Hurkacz and David Goffin join Bautista-Agut as seeds with byes.
This tournament looks higher-quality than the others this week, with a better field scheduled to compete. Jan-Lennard Struff, a bigger option at around 15.014/1, looks to have a fairly kind draw with clay-courter Lajovic in his second quarter, while it will be fascinating if we get to see Jannik Sinner versus Andy Murray in round two. On that basis alone, even with such huge potential, I'm unconvinced the Italian teenager should be outright favourite here.
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