We're just 10 days away from the start of
the final Slam of the season and the top names are battling it out for the
title in Cincinnati. Who are the sharp bettors going for in the Western and
Southern Open? Read my preview on the on which players to watch and which to drop.
Following the unfortunate news that Rafa
Nadal has been forced to pull out of the US Open through injury, the other
three members of the leading quartet are all in action here in Cincinnati
and will all be hopeful that a successful week here will stand them in good
stead for the upcoming New York
challenge. The favourite for the event is
unsurprisingly the current world no.2, Novak Djokovic, and having won in Toronto just last week,
the Serb knows that another successful run here could have him back on his way
to the top of the world rankings.
With no Federer in attendance last week and
Murray bowing out early through injury concern, Djokovic was given a fairly
easy ride towards defending his Toronto
title. Things look a little tougher this week for the Serb and the likelihood
is that he'll need to defeat both Murray and Federer if he wants to win this
one and go one step further than last year when he was runner-up to Murray. Despite the lack of quality hard court
tests so far, Djokovic has been looking in fine form and it mustn't be
forgotten that he has won the last three hard court Slams. At 6/4, there is
actually a little value in place for the Serb and I'd be tempted to pick him
for back-to-back titles.
Roger Federer is the second favourite with
the tennis bookmakers and this event represents his first challenge since
losing to Andy Murray in the London 2012 Olympic final. Federer has recorded a
Masters series victory on the US
hard courts this season and won't be feeling much like letting his no.1 mantle
fall without a fight. The Swiss benefits from the withdrawal of Rafa Nadal,
which means the highest ranked player in his half of the draw is the current
world no.4 David Ferrer. At 2/1, the value looks ok for Federer, however he may
just be a little wary of burning himself out ahead of the US Open and I wouldn't
be entirely confident in backing him to go all the way here.
Andy Murray seems to be back to fitness
following a draining summer and will be hopeful of progressing a lot further
here than he didlast week. The Olympic Champion will himself be far more concerned
about ensuring he is in perfect shape for the upcoming Slam, but he's never one
to throw in the towel easily and at 5/1, he could be worth a wager here. There are plenty of
other players in the draw who will all feel they have a chance and with the
possibility that the very top names will be turning their thoughts to New York,
there could definitely be some great value in one or two other tennis picks.
Tomas Berdych has had a rotten summer and
first round defeats in both Wimbledon and the
Olympics will have greatly knocked his confidence. The Czech has fallen well in
the draw though and plays in the half which is missing Rafa Nadal. He'll want
to make the most of this opportunity and play himself back into form at this
crucial stage of the season. If he can make it through his quarter, a potential
semi-final with Roger Federer would lay ahead and you wouldn't back against
Berdych causing an upset there. Currently backable at 40/1, Tomas Berdych is a
great each-way chance here in Cincinnati. Another player in the 'easier' quarter of
the draw is Milos Raonic and after some fantastic performances over the past
year or so, the young Canadian will feel now is the time to really put a stamp
on a Masters event. At 66/1 the value is definitely there at the various sportsbooks, and again it could
come down to Raonic and Berdych for a place in the semis.
The presence of Murray and Djokovic in the
bottom half of the draw makes it more difficult for the likes of Del Potro and
Tipsarevic to progress into the final four, however Juan Martin Del Potro could
certainly find his way into a quarter-final meeting with Andy Murray, and there
has been a suggestion that the Argentinean is just starting to find the type of
form which won him the US Open three years ago. No.7 seed, Janko Tipsarevic is on
a collision course with his compatriot, Novak Djokovic again, and having been
easily beaten by the world no.2 in Toronto
last week, it's not very likely he'll be able to reel off victories over the
big three to take this title.
Djokovic can reign supreme in Cincinnati again but
Berdych may be the best of the each-way gambles.