ATP Hamburg Tips: Garin and Fognini among those who appeal at bigger prices

Italian Tennis Player Fabio Fognini
It wouldn't be a surprise if Fabio Fognini rediscovered his level this week...

While the Rome Masters continues, the final warm-up event before the French Open - ATP Hamburg - starts today. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, gives his advance thoughts...

"I can remember Fognini being awful last year in the early clay events - he lost four first round matches in a row - before winning the Monte Carlo Masters, including thrashing Rafa Nadal in straight sets.

Fatigue going to be an issue at the French Open

ATP Hamburg provides players with their last opportunity to get some competitive time on court prior to the French Open, and at this stage, it's a delicate balancing act between ensuring enough match practice and going into the event having overplayed.

Certainly, in normal seasons, it's incredibly rare to see a top ten - and particularly one of the traditional elite players - participate in an event the week before a Grand Slam. These players understand the effects of accumulated fatigue and the dangers of overplaying. However, the message doesn't appear to be getting through to some players, with both Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas notable names in the draw for Hamburg this week.

This problem is exacerbated by the nature of this week's tournament. It's an ATP 500 level event and features no byes for the top four seeds. This is good - and in fact, if I had my own way, I'd remove all first-round byes for seeded players from all tournaments to ensure a more level playing field - but what it also ensures is that the tournament winner will need to play five matches, as opposed to often four in typical warm-up events. Essentially, they're going to have to play around another two hours on average compared to a typical winner of a tournament in the week prior to a Grand Slam.

Question marks over Tsitsipas and Medvedev here

Neither Tsitsipas or Medvedev featured at the forefront of my French Open value thoughts, and a good run here will see them slide further down my pecking order. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to play a Masters and Grand Slam back to back in America, and then be fresh and in peak condition to travel to Europe and playing Masters/500/Slam immediately after.

However, the duo feature at the top of the outright market for ATP Hamburg, which historically is an event which has played a little on the slow side of medium-paced for a clay court in recent years. At the time of writing, Tsitsipas is 5/15.8 on the Exchange, and Medvedev is slightly further back at 5/16.2.

Ruud and Schwartzman likely to be tired after Rome exploits

Who can threaten them towards the business end of this week? In truth, there are more questions than answers. Casper Ruud has clear ability and a ton of future upside - as evidenced by his run to the semi-finals of Rome - but it's not going to be fun trying to back that up having played a semi-final on Sunday in Italy and then needing to play round one in Germany probably on Tuesday. Diego Schwartzman, even more so - he's facing Novak Djokovic in the Rome final this afternoon.

Andrey Rublev has some clay ability but looks accurately priced a little further back than Tsitsipas and Medvedev, while Roberto Bautista-Agut isn't averse to a strong performance the week before a Grand Slam. However, he had a child last week and I'm surprised to even see his name in the entry list.

Garin and Fognini among those at bigger prices

As said, there are more questions than answers in the draw here. A couple of players that stand out a little are Cristian Garin, at around 28/1 generally, who has an excellent clay record but features in a stacked third quarter including Schwartzman, Kei Nishikori, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Gael Monfils.

The other is Fabio Fognini. I can't remember the last time I saw the Italian priced at 41/142.0 to win a clay 500 level event. This is a mark of how Fognini has struggled to convince since the tour resumed, but I'd be sceptical to write him off. Fognini likes slowish clay tournaments and inconsistency is, quite simply, what he does. I can remember Fognini being awful last year in the early clay events - he lost four first round matches in a row - before winning the Monte Carlo Masters, including thrashing Rafa Nadal in straight sets. This is a player with a low worst level, but a high peak, and write him off at your peril. The market appears to have done so here, although I'm not exactly overwhelmingly confident on his chances either!

With more questions than answers, a watching brief here from an outright perspective seems prudent, and I'll be returning later on in the week to answer some of those questions as we begin to formulate our outright thoughts for the French Open, which starts in a week's time.

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