ATP Tour Week 31: Isner capable of strong run in Washington

American Tennis Player John Isner
John Isner should enjoy conditions in Washington...
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There are three further tournaments on the ATP Tour throughout the coming week with players starting to gear up their preparations for the US Open. Dan Weston returns to preview the events...

"Given the relative weakness of the top half of the draw, and Isner's historical general propensity to do well in fast hard court tournaments in his home country, if you can get matched the big server at around [13.0], it wouldn't be the worst spot in this event."

Quick clay anticipated in Kitzbuhel

It's the last week of the clay season on the main tour with ATP Kitzbuhel, a 250 level tournament, enabling the clay court specialists one last chance to gain valuable ranking points before the struggle in hard court and indoor hard events for the remainder of 2019.

However, conditions in the Austrian alpine resort are unlikely to favour those traditional clay courters, with the town being around 800m above sea level and conditions play historically quick here. Out of the service points, 63.6% have been won at the venue across the last three events, around 1.5% above the ATP clay mean, while the aces per game tally is also higher than average as well - this is no slow clay court.

Top seed Thiem setting himself up for overplaying

Tournament organisers tend to try and get this done and dusted by Saturday to allow players to get over to North America for back to back Masters events, and again we see Dominic Thiem, the top seed, overplaying, as he continues his clay season in his home country. After a surprise exit in the quarter-finals in Hamburg last week, he probably will be playing four weeks on the spin, and as has been the case in previous seasons, he'll likely suffer from this in the last couple of months in the campaign.

Thiem is [2.46] favourite on the Exchange to take this, and in truth, he is the best player in the field by some distance, with Dusan Lajovic, Fernando Verdasco and Pablo Cuevas all just shy of the [9.0] mark as other main contenders - this quartet receive first round byes.

In the bottom half of the draw - opposite to Thiem - the Uruguayan, Cuevas, has a gift early draw and will be likely to make the latter stages, although the likes of Casper Ruud, Marton Fucsovics, and a number of other competent players in the bottom quarter will have hopes of a strong run as well.

Big servers likely to benefit in Washington

The biggest event this week, however, is in Washington, where a 500 level hard court tournament takes place. Again, this is likely to be played in quick conditions with historical data showing a strong bias towards servers, and this could well play into the hands of the likes of John Isner and Kevin Anderson.

Having said that, neither have won the event previously - Isner has been runner-up on three occasions - and the winners list doens't necessarily follow a big-server dynamic in general. There's a 48 man draw with the top 16 seeds all getting first round byes to progress to the last 32.

Isner can progress from weaker top half

The bottom half of the draw looks more stacked than the top half, with players capable of a high level including Marin Cilic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev, Milos Raonic, Karen Khachanov and last years runner-up, Alex de Minaur, so picking a value winner out of that bunch looks a tough prospect.

Given the relative weakness of the top half of the draw, and Isner's historical general propensity to do well in fast hard court tournaments in his home country, if you can get matched the big server at around [13.0], it wouldn't be the worst spot in this event.

Fritz an uneasy favourite in Los Cabos

Finally, there's also hard court action in the Mexican tourist resort of Los Cabos, and in a pretty weak draw, Taylor Fritz is the marginal favourite when looking at general market pricing.

The American man is improving but I can't be having this - he's only around 100% combined serve/return points won on hard court this year - and I feel there are better hard courters in the draw, including Steve Johnson and Cameron Norrie. In addition, the likes of Diego Schwartzman, Lucas Pouille, Fabio Fognini and Grigor Dimitrov are capable hard courters - but in Dimitrov's case, how long do we give him to rediscover his previous levels?

The Exchange market is yet to form really - the tournament doesn't start until the early hours of Tuesday morning for European viewers - and the bottom half of the tournament looks especially weak. The winner of the Dimitrov/Johnson round one clash probably will get to the business end in quarter four, while as I mentioned last week, I'm interested to see where the qualifier, Soon Woo Kwon, is placed in the draw - I'm anticipating him to have pretty decent success at this level eventually.


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Dan Weston,

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