The US Open starts on Monday at a revamped Flushing Meadows in New York and Sean Calvert sees reasons to take on the market leaders in the final major of the season...
"I feel we have to take on the two betting favourites here and I'll side with Nishikori at 34.033/1 in Murray's half and Gael Monfils in the top half at what seems a pretty generous 130129/1."
The last major of the 2016 season begins on Monday in New York and it looks, from the betting at least, a two horse race once more, but is it?
Novak Djokovic has been drifting in the market of late amidst rumour and counter rumour regarding the wrist injury that prevented the Serb from playing in Cincinnati, while Andy Murray's price has been moving in the opposite direction.
The pair's summers could scarcely have been any more different, with Djokovic losing early to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon (later blaming personal issues) before a painful round one loss to Juan Martin Del Potro in the Olympic Games and then the withdrawal from Cincy.
It's not all been bad for Djokovic though, as he did win the Rogers Cup in-between, but today's quotes from the world number one don't seem to be too encouraging.
"The wrist hasn't been ideal for the last three and a half weeks," Djokovic said.
"After undergoing certain treatments I've gotten better. I'm just hoping that Monday when the tournament starts I'll be able to get as close to the maximum of executing my backhand shot as possible."
Wrist injuries can, of course, be notoriously tough to heal and as punters I think we have to take Djokovic on here and Murray as well, with the latter's excellent summer likely to prove to have been too much tennis.
Murray, meanwhile, won 22 of 23 matches after the French Open and looked like it had all caught up with him during a loss in the 23rd of those matches to Marin Cilic and in all the Scot played 62 sets of tennis in that time.
That is exactly the same number of sets Murray played a year ago between Paris and New York and he went on to lose early on to Kevin Anderson. The same thing could happen this time around for the Brit, who looks too short in the betting for my liking at 3.185/40.
Conditions will be a touch different this year in New York, with the addition of a roof on the vast Arthur Ashe Stadium, a new Grandstand Court, and $600m spent on a bit of a revamp to Flushing Meadows.
And Roger Federer won't be there to witness it all unfold, as the Swiss is missing the US Open for the first time since his main draw debut in 2000, and with Rafa Nadal looking a shadow of the player he was our third favourites are a group of four.
Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Del Potro and Cilic are the men in question and I'm not sure I see a great deal of value in any of them.
Cilic was 55.054/1 before beating Murray in Cincy, while Delpo is way too short given the amount of tennis he's missed, but at least Del Potro and Wawrinka have a decent section of the draw.
Stan and Delpo are in the third quarter alongside Dominic Thiem, Querrey, Steve Johnson, David Ferrer, Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Alexander Zverev, and Alexandr Dolgopolov.
And that section looks really open, with the winner facing the man to emerge from Murray's fourth quarter, which would appear to be either the Scot or Kei Nishikori.
The Japanese leads the US Open Series and so would earn an extra $1m were he to win in New York, though Nishikori hardly needs any extra motivation to land a maiden major title.
His draw looks very decent, with perhaps only David Goffin seeming able to challenge Nishikori, whose obvious stumbling block is his poor record against Murray, but he did beat Djokovic en route to the final in 2014, so he has it in him.
Equally, Murray's draw looks great too, with only a seriously out of form Gilles Simon capable of an early upset of the Scot if he gets back on track quickly or unless Lukas Rosol plays the match of his life in round one. Neither scenario seems likely.
Grigor Dimitrov on one of his occasional good days might turn out to be the main hurdle for Murray to overcome and there have been promising signs from the Bulgarian of late, so Murray will be wary.
But I feel we have to take on the two betting favourites here and I'll side with Nishikori at 3433/1 in Murray's half and Gael Monfils in the top half at what seems a pretty generous 130129/1.
Lamonf is in the second quarter away from Djokovic and he has the beating of the favourite in that section Raonic on their meeting in the Canadian's back yard in Toronto a few weeks ago.
Nadal would be a possible quarter final opponent, but how fit is Rafa after he too has struggled with a wrist problem and he looked completely out of it in Cincy last week.
The Spaniard has arguably the easiest quarter on paper, but he doesn't look close to major winning form or fitness at the moment and Monfils 'should' be able to beat him in these conditions and circumstances.
So, I'll take Monfils in the Djokovic half, with serious doubts over the Serb's wrist and the reigning chap also has a tough quarter, with the likes of Cilic, Tsonga, John Isner, and Kevin Anderson to contend with.
Recommended Bets (back-to-lay)
Back Nishikori at 34.033/1
Back Monfils at 130.0129/1
Tennis 2016 season P&L
Profit based on £10 stake per bet = £622.60
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