Rogers Cup Betting: Three to have on your side in a depleted field

This is John Isner's time of year with north American hard courts by far his favourite surface.

This is a tournament that's more about who isn't there than who is. But as ever, the draw and tournament form are crucial considerations as Sean Calvert goes in search of the best bets.

"Perhaps the best tactic in what is the most open ATP Masters 1000 tournament for some considerable time has to be to back a player in the wide open bottom half of the draw, where a tired Murray may not be able to produce a sustained effort either after last week."

The words 'Olympic' and 'Wimbledon' are probably on the banned list at this year's Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Canada's only top class men's tennis tournament is shared between Montreal and Toronto and the 2012 version in the latter city has been sadly decimated by post-Olympic withdrawals.

It's easier to reveal who isn't playing than who is, as the list of those that have pulled out reads Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, David Ferrer, Nico Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and Gael Monfils from the top-20 ranked players in the world so far.

The draw itself has something of a lopsided look to it, with top seed Novak Djokovic's half including Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Janko Tipsarevic, Tommy Haas and Marin Cilic.

There are also dangerous floaters of the calibre of David Nalbandian, Kei Nishikori, Bernard Tomic, Sam Querrey and Alex Dolgopolov in that top half of the draw.

The bottom half, which is where Olympic champion Andy Murray finds himself, looks the place to be with Tomas Berdych, John Isner, Milos Raonic, Mardy Fish, Richard Gasquet and Juan Monaco the main opposition.

Djokovic has been installed as a slight favourite to land his third Rogers Cup title and he has a great record in this event, but both of his wins have come in Montreal and he's yet to make a final in Toronto.

The pressure will, once again, be on him as he looks to retain the title from 2011 and he's not in the kind of devastating form that we saw 12 months ago at the moment.

That said, a return to hard courts will definitely suit him, as his 20-2 record on hard courts in 2012 suggests and the opposition is significantly weaker than normal for a Masters event.

I expected him to be shorter than the current 4.57/2 and at that price he looks pretty decent value despite having the hardest of the draw.

Del Potro will doubtless be well backed this week after his return to something close to his best form at the Olympics, but there's not great value on the Argentine at around 10.09/1 on his Toronto debut.

Delpo's bronze medal was a fine performance and it puts him in the mix here and possibly for New York at the end of the month, but he's notoriously brittle and I wouldn't be too keen on him going deep in consecutive tournaments.

Perhaps the best tactic in what is the most open ATP Masters 1000 tournament for some considerable time has to be to back a player in the wide open bottom half of the draw, where a tired Murray may not be able to produce a sustained effort either after last week.

The Scot does have a fine record in Canada, with an 18-4 record and two titles in the last three years at the Rogers Cup - one at each venue.

But the emotional and physical exertions of the Olympics will surely take their toll and my shortlist from that half of the draw are John Isner, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish.

Raonic has hardly covered himself in glory at his home event so far in his career, but this will be the first time that he's entered as a top-25 ranked player - he was outside the top-200 on his previous appearance in Toronto.

His match against Tsonga at Wimbledon last week showed that he is still not capable of breaking his opponent's serve often enough to win tournaments outdoors at the moment though and 17.016/1 is a bit short.

Isner is possibly the man to be on in the bottom half, as his form on North American hard courts is always better than anywhere else and on his Toronto debut he's certainly better value than Raonic at around 15.014/1.

Fish can't be ruled out as last year's finalist (in Montreal) and he comes here with a few matches already under his belt on North American hard courts from Atlanta and Washington.

This is certainly his time of the year and with a good draw he's a live outsider and one that's been knocking on the door of Masters events on several occasions.

Berdych certainly should be a challenger this week in the same part of the draw as Fish, but his recent form is a worry, as he had a terrible grass mini-season and has lost three matches in a row as hot favourite.

In theory he should go deep this week, but confidence can't be high and 12.011/1 seems a bit lacking in value on current form.

So, my mini portfolio for this consists of Djokovic, Isner and Fish and backing those three with a view to laying later as you see fit should make a profit.

Recommended Bets

Back Djokovic at 4.57/2
Back Isner at 15.014/1
Back Fish at 34.033/1

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