There are three tournaments on week seven of the ATP Tour, and with there being a superb field in ATP Rotterdam, this takes centre stage. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, takes a look at where the outright betting value lies...
"Carreno-Busta disappointed in Quito last week - in quick conditions almost certainly not to his liking - but a return to form wouldn’t be a huge shock in slower conditions in Argentina in the coming week."
Federer likely to enjoy quick conditions in Rotterdam
At short notice, Roger Federer took a wild card into Rotterdam, and is top seed for this 500 level event, played on indoor hard court, and the 2012 champion's reward is a first-round meeting with an as yet unknown qualifier.
Over the last three years, conditions at the Ahoy Arena have been quite a bit quicker than average, with 65.1% of service points won compared to 64.1% on indoor hard across the main tour. This translates into 82.1% of service games won, as opposed to an 80.2% surface average.
In theory, this should benefit more serve-orientated players, and it's not a big shock to see Federer - a serve-orientated elite player - at the top of the market, with the Swiss legend having a stellar record indoors. He's currently offered at [1.72] with the Sportsbook, with only Grigor Dimitrov at [6.5] accompanying him in single figure pricing.
Dimitrov cautiously priced by market
David Goffin, Alexander Zverev, Tomas Berdych, Lucas Pouille, Richard Gasquet and fitness doubt Stan Wawrinka are the main other contenders in the outright market, and it's also worth noting that Pouille and Gasquet played in the Montpellier final on Sunday. Zverev, at some point in the last week, had to fly back from Australia following Davis Cup duty.
With Federer ominous in the top half of the draw, finding an each-way pick in the bottom half looks a solid call, and with a weak bottom quarter, Dimitrov would be the logical choice if his odds were around the [8.50] mark. The likely fatigued Pouille is the other main seed in his quarter, as well as Marius Copil who played in the final of Sofia on Sunday as well. A likely semi-final against either Berdych or Goffin looms.
Indoors, the Bulgarian is very strong - rubber-stamped by his World Tour Finals triumph - and he's now won 15 of 18 matches in the last 12 months on the surface, holding 89.1% and breaking 25.4% (combined 114.5%), which are stats bordering on elite-level, particularly as they aren't especially out of line with his service and return points won expectation.
Conditions unknown in New York
The other indoor tournament this week is in New York, which is a new event on the tour and with this in mind, it's impossible to assess the likely conditions. While there are no players with byes in Rotterdam, four players do benefit from a first-round bye, with Kevin Anderson and Adrian Mannarino joining home favourites John Isner and Sam Querrey as the four top seeds in what in all honesty looks a pretty weak event.
Unseeded Nishikori one to keep an eye on following return to tour
Anderson and Isner's top half of the draw looks marginally easier in general, although it does contain Kei Nishikori, who is making his way back on tour after a long absence, having played two Challenger events in recent weeks, winning his final event in Dallas. If the Japanese talent is back to anywhere near his best, he will prove to be a real threat to the seeded players.
Other unseeded players with some potential include Mackenzie McDonald, who impressed recently in the Australian Open, as well as Steve Johnson, Peter Gojowcyzk, Ryan Harrison and the big-serving Ivo Karlovic, who should be virtually unbreakable indoors, if conditions are quick.
With conditions impossible to predict, and Nishikori's level uncertain - if he was fully fit, he'd probably be tournament favourite - it seems wise to swerve this event from an outright perspective.
Traditional clay courters with an edge in Buenos Aires
The Golden Swing enters week two as we move on to the final tournament of this week, with there being an intriguing event in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Despite being played at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, the event is played on clay, and historically, out and out clay courters have had success here. David Ferrer won three consecutive titles between 2012 and 2014, while other return-orientated clay courters with final appearances include Rafa Nadal, Juan Ignacio Chela, Fabio Fognini and Juan Monaco. Spanish players (10 final appearances in the last nine years) have tended to thrive here.
Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini, Albert Ramos and Pablo Carreno-Busta comprise the seeded quartet with byes, and certainly Thiem will welcome the return to his best surface. The other three are noted by most as being much better on the surface too, and their clay data bears this out.
Thiem and Fognini take their places in the top half of the draw, with Fernando Verdasco, injury doubt Gael Monfils and the declining Pablo Cuevas the likely threats, and it will be interesting to see how the Uruguayan, Cuevas, performs on his best surface. He's got a decent record in these early season clay tournaments in recent years, and the relatively slow conditions are likely to be of assistance.
Speaking of these conditions, just 76.1% of service games were held here in the last three years, a figure which is 1.2% below the ATP clay mean, so return orientated players should have a nice edge here.
Carreno-Busta with chances in weak bottom half of the draw
Ramos and Carreno-Busta certainly fall into this category, and are joined in the bottom half of the draw by the likes of Diego Schwartzman, Federico Delbonis - a player of a potential high level on the surface, albeit not exhibited in the last year or so - and quite randomly, Kyle Edmund. With the exception of Schwartzman, this bottom half of the draw doesn't look laden with talent.
Backing up this week's run to the final at altitude in Quito - rather different conditons - will be tough for Ramos, and this is probably why he is less respected by the oddsmakers in the outright market. Carreno-Busta disappointed in Quito last week - in quick conditions almost certainly not to his liking - but a return to form wouldn't be a huge shock in slower conditions in Argentina in the coming week.
With a107.5% combined hold/break percentage on clay in the last year, the Spaniard boasts strong data, and can be chanced at [8.0] with the Sportsbook.
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