ATP Tour Week Seven: Khachanov has the potential to go deep in Rotterdam
The ATP Tour continues in week seven with three more tournaments across both indoor hard and clay courts. Back to preview the events is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"Khachanov lost in that tournament in Sofia in a tight match against Matteo Berrettini, but that can possibly be excused after playing five sets in the Davis Cup the preceding weekend. His indoor record is superb, and fits that slightly serve-orientated dynamic - unlike Nishikori, for example."
Indoor tournaments again take focus in week seven
This week's finals will be taking place this afternoon and evening, and we're in a good spot with Daniil Medvedev reaching the final, and being a heavy favourite to defeat Marton Fucsovics and lift the title in Sofia. As I pointed out last week, Medvedev's record in quicker conditions is very strong indeed and he'll be worth keeping onside in these selected events over the coming months.
Again, we have two indoor tournaments on the schedule for the coming week, with events in Rotterdam and New York, while there's further South American clay action in another event in Argentina, this time at Buenos Aires.
Serve-orientated list of winners in Rotterdam
Matches get under way tomorrow morning in Holland, and conditions there look a touch quicker than average for an indoor hard court. Across the last three years in Rotterdam, 64.7% of service points have been won, a figure which is 0.4% above the indoor hard mean for that time period. Given this, there's likely to be a slight benefit towards serve-orientated players in general at the venue in the coming week.
On the whole, recent winners have been quite serve-orientated, with Roger Federer (twice), Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and (perhaps an outlier) Martin Klizan lifting the trophy since 2012. Most runners-up in these years, with the exception of Gael Monfils and David Goffin, also fit this dynamic, so it looks worthwhile leaning towards players with this skill-set in Rotterdam.
Khachanov with the skill-set to succeed
Kei Nishikori is the tournament favourite at 5/1 with the Sportsbook, closely followed by Milos Raonic (11/2), and Stefanos Tsitsipas (6/1), Karen Khachanov (7/1) and the aforementioned Medvedev (15/2). All other players are available in excess of 10/1.
It's worth noting that there are no first round byes in Rotterdam, so a winner will have to win five matches, and given this, and the open nature of the field, it would be quite difficult to justify a few of these names, plus it might be tough for Medvedev to back up this week's run to the final in Bulgaria.
Khachanov lost in that tournament in Sofia in a tight match against Matteo Berrettini, but that can possibly be excused after playing five sets in the Davis Cup the preceding weekend. His indoor record is superb, and fits that slightly serve-orientated dynamic - unlike Nishikori, for example.
In addition, the bottom half of the draw looks less stacked with talent than the top half, with Khachanov's route likely to be wild-card Tallon Griekspoor, then a potentially fatigued duo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Medvedev in the second round and quarter-finals. I'd have him as favourite indoors against the likely semi-final opposition in the shape of Goffin, Gael Monfils or Tsitsipas. The general market has him at around 10/1 to win the title, so the best solution might be worth putting in an offer on the Exchange to back the Russian at similar prices.
Isner too short as favourite in New York
Over in New York, in the other indoor event, home favourite John Isner leads the market, at a skinny-looking 5/2. Kevin Anderson took the title in the inaugural event at the venue last year, and conditions in 2018 looked very quick indeed, with 66.6% of points won by servers, and a considerably above-average 0.71 aces per game being served.
Perhaps strangely, Isner's record at the quickest venues isn't particularly impressive, so he looks an easy swerve as tournament favourite here, despite a gift draw which sees Jordan Thompson as the other seed in his quarter, and a facile-looking top half of the draw in general.
In the bottom half of the draw, Steve Johnson has a dire record indoors in recent times, and despite an easy route to the quarters should find matters more difficult subsequently. Sam Querrey looks a slightly more realistic threat, but at 11/1, isn't big enough to merit consideration.
Retention of Buenos Aires title far from a formality for Thiem
Finally in Buenos Aires, conditions are likely to be considerably slower on the red clay. Just 62% of service points have been won in the Argentinian capital in the last three years - slightly down on the clay average - and this should suit the traditional, return-orientated, clay courters.
This is quite apparent when looking at finalists - David Ferrer (three times), Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem (twice, including last year) and Alexandr Dolgopolov have been victorious since 2012, while the likes of Fabio Fognini, Juan Monaco, Kei Nishikori and Aljaz Bedene have also been return-orientated runners-up in that time period.
Thiem is just 6/5 with the Sportsbook to defend his title, which looks short given his fitness issues of late, while the market feels Ferrer, Fognini and Schwartzman are his closest contenders, all in single-digit pricing.
That price makes even less sense given that the likes of Pablo Cuevas, Ferrer and Schwartzman are all in Thiem's top half of the draw, and this leaves the bottom half wide-open for Fognini, although he might face a tricky round two against home player Federico Delbonis, while the capable Guido Pella and Dusan Lajovic are among threats in that bottom quarter.
Quarter three looks weak, with Marco Cecchinato seeded to make the semi-finals, but the Italian was disappointing in Cordoba last week. Nicolas Jarry looks a little too serve-orientated to succeed here, and quite potentially, the winner of the third quarter could come from the first round meeting between young prospects Christian Garin and Felix Auger-Aliassime, who have both impressed on the dirt in Challengers.
However, we'll stick with Khachanov in Rotterdam as our recommendation for the week, and I'll be returning in a week's time to have a look at week eight in detail.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Karen Khachanov at odds of [10.00] or greater to win ATP Rotterdam on the Exchange