The ATP Tour continues with three further tournaments this week, with the ATP 500 in Hamburg the highlight. Dan Weston previews the action...
"Sonego's quarter two looks very weak indeed and I have a suspicion Jiri Vesely could be a little under-rated at around 28/1 in the general market place."
Hard court tournaments resume in run up to US Open
We saw the end of the grass season last week with John Isner taking the title in Newport, while there were also wins for Nicolas Jarry and Dusan Lajovic on the clay of Bastad and Umag, respectively.
The clay season continues into a penultimate week with a 500 level tournament in Hamburg, and a 250 in Gstaad at altitude in Switzerland, while we return back to hard courts with a 250 in Atlanta, as players begin their preparation for the August North American Masters series. And subsequently, the US Open.
Thiem with tricky draw in Hamburg
Starting off at the highest level tournament of the week in Hamburg, there's a 32-man draw with no first round byes, which in theory should lengthen the prices of the four top seeds given that they have a further player to beat.
Top seed Dominic Thiem is the tournament favourite at [3.75] despite getting a tough draw - an opener against Pablo Cuevas, before subsequent rounds against potentially Philipp Kohlschreiber and then the Chilean prospect, Christian Garin, is a pretty difficult opening series of matches.
Question marks over Fognini currently
Also in his top half of the draw is Fabio Fognini, with the volatile Italian suffering an early retirement exit as a heavy favourite in his opening match against Stefano Travaglia last week.
As usual, it's very difficult to envisage which version of Fognini will show up this week. A defeat against qualifier Julian Lenz would be another low. The [10.0] about Fognini doesn't appeal in the slightest, although it would be about right for him to come off the back of last week and win the tournament without dropping a set!
Paire could be the one to test Zverev in bottom half
The bottom half of the draw is interesting with the out of form Alexander Zverev under pressure for his place in the race to London. A tricky opener, against last week's winner Jarry, isn't an ideal match to ease himself into the tournament. It doesn't get any better for him with Marco Cecchinato or Federico Delbonis more than capable of testing the young German.
Quarter three looks interesting with Benoit Paire the clear favourite for me to come out of the quarter - he's shown a much higher level this season on clay than any other, winning around 75% of main tour matches (combined serve/return points won percentage of almost 105%) and it wouldn't surprise me if he went well this week. Anyone interested in the Frenchman should get around [20.0] on the Exchange.
Altitude dictates quick conditions in Gstaad
Over in Gstaad, altitude dictates that the tournament should be played in quick conditions - it's the highest venue for ATP Tour events in Europe. There's been a mixed bag of winners in recent years between serve-orientated players and return-orientated players, with no clear trend - unlike Victor Estrella at altitude in Quito, for example.
Roberto Bautista-Agut is the tournament favourite at [3.6] on a still-to-form market on the Exchange, and the Spaniard is top seed and receives a first round bye along with Lorenzo Sonego, Fernando Verdasco and the aforementioned winner from Umag, Dusan Lajovic.
Vesely with a nice draw in weak second quarter
Sonego's quarter two looks very weak indeed and I have a suspicion Jiri Vesely could be a little under-rated at around 28/1 in the general market place. He faces Ernests Gulbis today in his opener - the Latvian has been very poor on clay in recent times - before either Cedrik-Marcel Stebe or Corentin Moutet in round two. I don't think this is a bad each-way option.
In the bottom half of the draw, the clay-loving Lajovic is a threat but fatigue and a potential preference for slower conditions may not suit. However his quarter is weak and he may not have to play his round two match until Thursday. There could quite conceivably be a big-priced finalist from this bottom quarter with no clear standout candidate - the vast majority of players in the bottom half of the draw have a combined hold/break of 100%.
Isner with magnificent record in Atlanta
Finally, in Atlanta, conditions are expected to be very quick if historical conditions are anything to go by, and Newport winner John Isner is top seed and tournament favourite, at [3.85] on the Exchange. In theory, conditions should suit the big-serving American, and that's evidenced by him reaching the last six finals, winning five. In fact, he's been a finalist in eight of the nine tournaments held at this venue so he's clearly the player to beat in the coming week.
Dimitrov with potential in anticipated quick conditions
Finding an each-way option in the bottom half of the draw could be the best plan, and the seeds with byes are Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Taylor Fritz. Both will have their chances along with the wild card Grigor Dimitrov - he loves quick conditions as well as a number of young players, including Miomir Kecmanovic, Ugo Humbert and Soon Woo Kwon.
Dimitrov's record on hard and indoor hard this year from a small sample of matches is actually good this year (107% combined serve/return points won percentage) and given his love for quick conditions he is an obvious threat - I'd doubt Kevin King has much to test him in his opening match. At around [10.0], I wouldn't be surprised if he goes well.
Kwon with upside after superb year in Challengers
In addition, I like the Korean, Kwon, although he's not priced up really by the market. He's got an incredible record this year in hard court Challenger events (109% combined serve/return points won percentage) and in the next day or so, you might well get some very big outright prices about him in what looks a very open bottom half of the draw.
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Back Jiri Vesely each-way at around 28/1 to win ATP Gstaad