The ATP Tour continues this week with tournaments indoors on hard court in Sofia and outdoors in San Diego so Dan Weston previews both...
"Rublev has some tricky potential opposition in the top quarter of the draw, including the talented wild card Brandon Nakashima, plus Lloyd Harris and Diego Schwartzman."
High quality field in San Diego in advance of Indian Wells
Hubert Hurkacz and Soonwoo Kwon were the winners in last week's indoor hard court events. The Pole, Hurkacz, won eight from eight sets, while Kwon won his first ATP main tour title after three previous victories at Challenger level.
There are 28 players in each of this week's tournaments looking to emulate the duo and, considering both events are at ATP 250 level, field quality is pretty high.
This high field quality is particularly the case in San Diego, with players looking to get some game time in before next week's Indian Wells Masters. Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud are top-10 ranked representation there, with Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime the other two seeded players with first round byes in a brand new event on the ATP calendar.
Rublev facing tricky opposition in quarter one
Expected court speed is a complete unknown, so we have no option but to treat conditions as around average in advance. The outright market is still gaining liquidity, but Rublev 4.47/2 has early favourite status, with the likes of Auger-Aliassime, Ruud, Shapovalov and Hurkacz also towards the top of the market.
Rublev has some tricky potential opposition in the top quarter of the draw, including the talented wild card Brandon Nakashima, plus Lloyd Harris and Diego Schwartzman.
Shapovalov's second quarter looks much more straightforward, with the likes of Taylor Fritz plus the British duo of Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans probably the biggest threats.
Korda a young player of very high potential
Quarter three also looks tough to call, with Auger-Aliassime the main seed but containing players of the calibre of Grigor Dimitrov, Marton Fucsovics, Aslan Karatsev and the aforementioned Hurkacz - this shouldn't be straightforward for the Canadian - while quarter four looks wide open with Ruud the main seed, but the likes of Lorenzo Sonego, Sebastian Korda, and wild cards Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray featuring.
If Korda's fitness was more assured - he retired last time out at the US Open - he would be a really interesting long-shot at around the 20.019/1 mark. The American's data on hard court this year is excellent and he's a young player of extremely high potential. In a relatively weak bracket, if he's fully fit, he could come through a very open half of the draw.
Sinner top seed to defend title in Sofia
In Sofia, conditions are more of a known quantity, with historical data suggesting there's not much difference between the venue and the ATP Tour Indoor Hard court average, so I'm anticipating the court speed to be pretty quick, as the surface tends to be - but not hugely so.
The event was held in November last year, with Jannik Sinner edging Vasek Pospisil in the final, and as the top seed, the Italian will be keen to defend his title. Alexander Bublik, Alex De Minaur and Gael Monfils join him as seeds with first round byes. A few unseeded players also have the potential to do well here, including Ilya Ivashka who looks like being on a rich run of form, plus Emil Ruusuvuori who has an excellent record indoors.
Monfils and Ivashka benefiting from weaker half of the draw
Sinner is tournament favourite at 4.3100/30, with the likes of Monfils, Ivashka and De Minaur slightly bigger priced. I'm not surprised to see both Monfils and Ivashka at the forefront of the market given the weaker quality of the bottom half of the draw, which they both feature in.
Adrian Mannarino also could threaten here - he has a good record on quicker surfaces - and at around 29.0028/1 based on general market pricing, could represent some long-shot value although there's slight concern about his inactivity following an injury he picked up at Wimbledon.
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