With Wimbledon out of the way, the ATP Tour continues with three main tour events taking place this week. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the week's action...
"Isner's path to the latter stages looks pretty straightforward and it's not a surprise that he's chalked up as a strong [4.6] favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday."
Newport sees the grass season draw to a conclusion
We managed to pick up a winner yesterday - just - with Novak Djokovic eclipsing Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final in what was one of the all-time great Grand Slam finals, lasting almost five hours. However, rather unsurprisingly, neither of the finalists are in action this week and nor are most of the leading lights on the ATP Tour, as we drop down to the 250 level with three tournaments this week.
The grass season concludes in Newport, USA, with conditions likely to be a little quicker than we've seen at Wimbledon over the previous fortnight, although I don't anticipate it to be particularly quick - the aces per game count and service points won percentage are a little below the ATP grass court mean figures across the last few years.
Top seed Isner looks the one to beat
John Isner is top seed and joins Adrian Mannarino, Jordan Thompson and Ugo Humbert as seeds with byes. I don't keep records on this type of thing but I'm fairly sure that this will be the first time Humbert has received a first round bye as a seeded player on the main tour - a mark of both his improvement this season as well as the mediocre field quality here on display in America this week.
Isner's path to the latter stages looks pretty straightforward and it's not a surprise that he's chalked up as a strong [4.6] favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday. Defending champion Steve Johnson, or perhaps a motivated Bernard Tomic - a big if - look to be his main potential threats in the top half of the draw.
In the bottom half, Mannarino has a lot to like about his draw, with his second round meeting against Denis Istomin or Tennys Sandgren, and then a decent chance of playing a qualifier in the quarter-finals. Jordan Thompson or the big-serving veteran Ivo Karlovic are his anticipated semi-final opponent. The outright markets are still forming, but there's little surprise he's the second favourite, at around [6.8].
Clay courters with historical success in Bastad
In addition to Newport this week there are two clay court tournaments in Bastad and Umag, with the transition from grass to clay notably difficult and tough to predict.
Bastad has a reputation of being something of a party venue, and it's worth noting that the vast majority of winners here this decade have been out and out clay courters, with Spaniards having notable success.
Conditions here look pretty medium-paced historically, for clay, and the field quality is a little better than that in Newport, with a number unseeded players potentially fancying their chances, particularly in a rather competitive looking top half of the draw.
Upset potential in bottom half of the draw
The improving Chilean, Christian Garin, is top seed while Pablo Cuevas joins him with a bye in round two in the top half of the draw and the duo are competing for favourtism at around [7.0]. However, the likes of Jeremy Chardy, Nicolas Jarry, and Federico Delbonis will all think their route to the latter stages is doable as well.
Veterans dominate the main seeded berths in the bottom half of the draw with Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco going straight into round two, although neither have particularly decent clay data this season - they look pretty vulnerable for an upset.
Albert Ramos, who faces a qualifier in his opener, could well come through the bottom half of the draw, while Casper Ruud, and several out and out clay courters, Hugo Dellien and Juan Ignacio Londero, could quite conceivably string a couple of wins together - this is a tough tournament to predict, in my opinion, with a number of players potentially capable of getting to the business end here.
Question marks over top seed Fognini in Umag
Finally, over in Umag, I'm anticipating conditions to be extremely slow - I have this graded as one of the slowest venues on tour - and this should play into the hands of the return-orientated clay courters in the draw, of which there are unsurprisingly plenty.
Fabio Fognini is top seed and market favourite at [5.1], and in theory, the Italian should enjoy conditions here. However, his motivation and level-headedness are a little tough to assess at the best of times, and after his outburst at Wimbledon last week, it is impossible to know which Fognini will turn up - the enigma who won Monte Carlo, or the player that couldn't win a match on the surface prior to that tournament.
The bottom half of the draw could be one to look at for a longer priced winner, and Marco Cecchinato will have to overcome a very strange 0-6 head to head deficit against Aljaz Bedene today to make round two. Again, this is a competitive tournament where not many players stand out, so it's tough to find much in the way of outright value in the coming week.
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