Big names absent from Winston Salem draw
Borna Coric continued his dream tournament in Cincinnati by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, lifting Coric 123 places in the world rankings to 29. That put him inside the top 32 for the US Open seedings for the final Grand Slam of 2022 next week.
It always perplexes me as to why some contenders for Grand Slam events decide to play (and therefore often over-play) the week before the biggest test of fitness on the tennis calendar. But it seems that the main players have finally got the memo this week, with Grigor Dimitrov the only top 20 player in the draw.
Thiem making hard court return
The draw has an unusual dynamic with 16 seeds entering in round two and 32 further players competing in round one to join them.
There are still some decent unseeded players in the first round, not least Dominic Thiem who picked up a wild card to enter this having missed the Masters series earlier this month. Thiem started to pick up some results on clay after an initially dreadful return to tour from long-term injury, so it will be fascinating to see how the Austrian fares away from his preferred surface.
Given the absence of big names, it's perhaps unsurprising that the Exchange market is having a tough time establishing the market favourite, with eight players currently trading between 10.09/1 and around the 20.019/1 mark, with no single-digit priced favourite.
Historical data suggests that the conditions here in Winston Salem are unlikely to be pretty quick, so something of a departure from the Masters events in Montreal and Cincinnati. Certainly, apart from a couple of wins for John Isner a decade ago, there's not been an abundance of big-servers winning in the event, so the field looks pretty wide open.
Draper one of the contenders for quarter one
Quarter one looks pretty competitive, with top seed Dimitrov heading a bracket also containing the aforementioned Thiem, plus Jack Draper and Ilya Ivashka. Draper looks on a real upward curve and in a pretty mediocre quality event, isn't without a chance at 13.012/1 based on general market pricing.
The second bracket looks much weaker, with no outstanding hard courter who would likely be favourite over those names mentioned in the top quarter in a potential semi-final. Lorenzo Musetti might be best-placed to get through, with the young Italian in form after winning the Hamburg 500 and his loss to Coric last week in Cincinnati as favourite now looking less bad than it did at the time. He's available at 22.021/1 on the Exchange currently.
Ruusuvuori with chances in bottom half of draw
Quarter three has some more capable players featuring, including Emil Ruusuvuori, Lorenzo Sonego and Maxime Cressy with Ruusuvuori having the best hard court numbers. His price should settle around the 17.016/1 mark, which isn't bad value in my view.
This is particularly the case given the mediocre quality of the fourth bracket, giving a decent chance of the third quarter winner to make the final. Second seed Botic van de Zandschulp looks the obvious pick of the quarter, although I'm not sure he deserves to be the 10.519/2 tournament favourite at the time of writing. He's only running at just over 100% combined service/return points won on hard court this season, so it's not like he's dominating the tour right now on the surface.