The ATP Tour continues with two more indoor hard tournaments in advance of next week's Paris Masters. Dan Weston returns to discuss the week ahead...
"Draws don't get much better than this and Mannarino comes into the event at a reasonable level last time out after pushing eventual winner Zverev in Cologne last week in three sets. He also beat fellow seed Kecmanovic en route to that quarter-final."
Indoor action continues on the ATP Tour
Next week's Paris Masters will be the final high profile main tour event of 2020, with the ATP Finals several weeks later for the top eight players on tour. This week, players are looking to fine-tune their preparations for Paris across tournaments in Vienna, Austria, and Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan - both played on indoor hard courts.
Vienna is the higher profile tournament, with it being an ATP 500 and offering around four times the overall prize pool, and as with most 500s there's a 32 man draw with no player receiving first-round byes. It's always worth stressing this because it means that the top four seeds need to win five matches as opposed to four in a 250, and the necessity to win a further match should impact on their outright prices.
Djokovic a heavy favourite in Vienna
This is unlikely to be much drama, though, for Novak Djokovic, who is top seed and is around 1.101/10 for his opening match against Filip Krajinovic. The world number one is the strong market favourite at a shade odds-against, at 2.0811/10, with Dominic Thiem at 7.06/1 and Daniil Medvedev bigger at around 10.09/1.
Medvedev and Thiem seeded to meet in the semi-finals
Thiem being a shorter price than Medvedev indoors seems a little strange initially, but the Russian's record indoors is surprisingly mediocre in the last 12 months, with defeats against Vasek Pospisil in Rotterdam and Gilles Simon in Marseille shortly before the tour stopped, and against Reilly Opelka in his home tournament in St Petersburg several weeks ago.
However, Medvedev's longer-term record is strong indoors. He won in St Petersburg last year, Sofia in February 2019 plus Tokyo in October 2018 as a qualifier, so he has pedigree on the surface. Thiem's win-loss indoors in the last 12 months is decent but his underlying data is worse than that record would suggest, and a potential semi-final clash between the duo - it is seeded - would be fascinating. I'm actually not sure how I'd price that one right now and therefore it's difficult to have a view on any outright value in this tournament, with Djokovic solid odds-on to come through the top half of the draw.
Mannarino the pick in Nur-Sultan
The Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, is a new tournament on tour, so it is a bit of an unknown in terms of likely conditions. There are four seeds with byes - Benoit Paire, Adrian Mannarino, John Millman and Miomir Kecmanovic - and these names accurately illustrate the lower field quality between there and Vienna.
There's also the prospect of a very competitive tournament here with no player priced in single digits currently, and I must admit out of the entire draw I like the potential of the Frenchman, Mannarino. The third seed has a first-round bye before playing one of two qualifiers in round two. He then has either a qualifier, the veteran Andreas Seppi, Mackenzie McDonald (playing on a protected ranking) or Alexander Bublik in the quarter-final.
Draws don't get much better than this and Mannarino comes into the event at a reasonable level last time out after pushing eventual winner Zverev in Cologne last week in three sets. He also beat fellow seed Kecmanovic en route to that quarter-final.
Things are a little complicated by qualifiers unknown and still to be placed in the draw but Mannarino, currently around 12/1 in general market prices, looks a decent option here with above-average data in recent years indoors, and in quicker conditions (which indoors usually is) in general. In a weak tournament, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he performed well throughout the upcoming week.
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Back Adrian Mannarino at around 12.011/1 to win ATP Nur-Sultan