The ATP season continues with two further Australian Open warm-up events on the hard courts of Sydney and Adelaide. Dan Weston looks at the betting...
"Murray last week was surprised by clay-courter Facundo Bagnis in Melbourne as around a 1.101/10 favourite, getting his season off to a poor start."
Nadal answers some questions with Melbourne victory
Gael Monfils and Rafa Nadal were the title winners on the opening week of the 2022 ATP season, with the Frenchman, Monfils, getting the better of Karen Khachanov in Sunday's final. Nadal dispelled some of the doubts over his fitness by triumphing in Melbourne, although it must be said that none of his straight-set wins were particularly dominant, and he only won three matches after benefiting from both a first round bye and the withdrawal of his quarter-final opponent. Nadal also didn't face a single opponent ranked inside the top 90, so it would be prudent not to over-react to the King of Clay taking this hard court title.
Monfils top seed after Adelaide title
The qualifiers are now placed in the draw for this week's events in Adelaide and Sydney, which are again 250s on hard courts, and after his victory in Adelaide last week, Gael Monfils is top seed for the same event (named Adelaide 2 on many websites) this week. He's joined by Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic and John Isner as seeded players with first-round byes.
In the top quarter of the draw, outright market favourite Monfils is likely to be most challenged by the winner of the first round clash between Botic van de Zandschulp and Marton Fucsovics, while Khachanov potentially may have the biggest issues with the winner between Soonwoo Kwon and Lloyd Harris. In what is a recurring theme of pretty weak quarters, Cilic shouldn't have much trouble in theory either in Q3, while following the early exit of Alexander Bublik, Isner's greatest threat could well be wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was defeated in the semi-final last week by Monfils.
Be aware of player motivation
An extra question mark over the market leaders - the four seeds with byes - focuses on whether they will be motivated for a tough week ahead of a Grand Slam. All of Khachanov, Monfils and Cilic reached the semi-finals at least last week so back-to-back long runs ahead of the Australian Open wouldn't be necessarily ideal preparation.
This dynamic makes for a tricky week ahead where player motivation might not always be guaranteed, and the same dynamic manifests itself in Sydney too, albeit in a tournament where the market leaders haven't had such a level of game time last week.
Karatsev top seed in Sydney
Aslan Karatsev is the top seed in a fairly weak-looking event as far as big names are concerned, with Dan Evans, Reilly Opelka and Nikoloz Basilashvili also receiving a first-round bye as a top four seed - meaning of course that they need to win one fewer match to lift the trophy.
The outright market is tight at the top, with Karatsev having marginal favourite status from Evans, but there are seemingly more unseeded players capable of making the latter stages - including Andy Murray, among others.
Murray looking for first main tour win of 2022
Murray last week was surprised by clay-courter Facundo Bagnis in Melbourne as around a 1.101/10 favourite, getting his season off to a poor start.
The Scotsman will be looking to make inroads into the bottom half of the draw, and the Norwegian Victor Durasovic is about as straightforward a round one opponent that he could ask for.
Should Murray win that match, he faces some tricky subsequent clashes against the likes of Basilashvili and then likely David Goffin just to make the semi-finals, so the market expectations of Murray look over-hyped at around third favourite. He still has plenty to prove on his comeback.
Nakashima among unseeded players capable of doing well
Fellow Brit, Evans, has a kind quarter in Q2, although he'll need to be aware of the big-serving Maxime Cressy who lost to Nadal in the Melbourne final last week, as well as fast-condition specialist Adrian Mannarino - the French duo meet in round one.
Quarter three is wide open, with Nick Kyrgios withdrawing and the big-serving seed Opelka will be confident of his chances. Fellow American Brandon Nakashima could be a notable test though - Nakashima made a real impact last season getting towards the top 50 and could be one to watch in the coming season. However, the market isn't stupid, and has put Nakashima as one of the market leaders at around 5th favourite, so the long-shot value isn't there.
I'll be returning throughout the week to discuss the Australian Open and the various draws in detail, and giving any outrights, so be sure to keep alert for any new content as the week progresses.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
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