The ATP Tour continues this week with three new events, with two on clay and one on hard court. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to discuss the upcoming tournaments...
"The venue is around 1,000 metres above sea level, so it's played at altitude which generally means that conditions benefit serve-orientated players."
Brooksby one to watch despite final defeat
Two of the market leaders from last week's clay events lifted trophies, with Casper Ruud and Pablo Carreno-Busta recording straight-set victories in Sunday's finals. On grass, Kevin Anderson edged Jenson Brooksby to the title and the match was notable for several reasons - firstly, thankfully, it's the end of the grass season which was beset with data difficulties.
Secondly, because it gives me a suitable chance to make the point that Brooksby looks a young player with very high potential. Readers may not have heard much about him before but he's been magnificent at Challenger level this year and has rubber-stamped those performances with a maiden ATP final - keep an eye on the young American.
Altitude should help big-servers in Gstaad
Starting this morning is the clay tournament in Gstaad, and this is an event which is always worth reinforcing the tournament dynamics. The venue is around 1,000 metres above sea level, so it's played at altitude which generally means that conditions benefit serve-orientated players.
This is illustrated by the extremely high service points won percentage at the venue (compared to the average clay event) in recent years, so while this tournament is played on clay, the regular clay-courters might not yield as much benefit from conditions as they will in Umag.
Shapovalov fits serve-orientated dynamic in Switzerland
Top seed in Switzerland is Denis Shapovalov, who certainly fits that serve-orientated dynamic, and he's second favourite for the event behind last week's title winner Casper Ruud 3.613/5 in the outright market. In what looks a competitive tournament, Roberto Bautista-Agut and Cristian Garin are also towards the top of the outrights.
The Canadian has what looks like on paper to be a straightforward top quarter although Feliciano Lopez in these conditions could surprise a few people, and he's got Ruud as a potential semi-final opponent. Given his title in Bastad last week, it might be too much to ask Ruud to go back-to-back and Shapovalov, who has improved nicely this year, looks well positioned to take advantage.
Open event anticipated in Umag
Conditions are anticipated to be much slower in Umag, with service points won and aces per game figures much more in line with ATP mean numbers in Croatia. This discussion should be interesting to readers who perhaps haven't done as much research as others, because it accurately illustrates that not all clay events are equal.
The outright market illustrates this as well, with many traditional clay-courters towards the top of the market, including Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, Dusan Lajovic, Albert Ramos and Marco Cecchinato. The event, however, looks pretty competitive, with numerous players capable of challenging.
In quarter one, Albert Ramos is top seed, but faces potential resistance from the likes of Carlos Taberner and Jauma Munar. In Q2, there's a few realistic contenders as well with Filip Krajinovic, who is competing to be tournament favourite at around 6.005/1 with Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, and both are in this bracket. Keep an eye out for Holger Rune as well, who has very decent upside as a young player - he's much better than he showed against Casper Ruud in Bastad last week.
The bottom half of the draw looks weaker with Marco Cecchinato having a chance in quarter three, and a wide-open quarter four which includes numerous players capable of reaching the latter stages, without much of an ability differential. The tournament should be more competitive than Gstaad, which has much more of a top-heavy dynamic.
Norrie and Isner head the market in Los Cabos
Over in Los Cabos, there's a hard court event starting tonight in the early hours, and the field also looks competitive, at least at the top of the market. The likes of John Isner, Cameron Norrie, Taylor Fritz and Sam Querrey are among the market leaders, with Norrie 5.69/2 likely to go off the marginal tournament favourite.
There are a lot of players in the field who you can pretty much draw a line through in advance, so I'd anticipate one of the top 5-6 market leaders being victorious here. Fritz arguably has a kind draw in the second quarter, with only Steve Johnson likely to provide much resistance, and he'd face the likes of Norrie or Mackenzie McDonald in the latter stages - unless of course, Thanasi Kokkinakis can get back towards his best after long periods of injury.
In the bottom half of the draw, Sam Querrey is seeded to progress in quarter three but there's a few potential high-variance serve-orientated matches which he could get drawn into, while Isner has pretty much of a gift quarter in Q4 - unless Andreas Seppi can have a great week, the big-serving American will be very likely to progress to the semi-finals at least.
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