Three tournaments on the Men’s Tour this week with the Erste Bank Open (Austria), Kremlin Cup (Russia) and Stockholm Open (Sweden).
On top of the obvious motivation of adding another title to their CVs this week, the players towards the top of the rankings are also on a quest to earn enough ranking points to get them into November’s ATP Masters at the O2 in London.
Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Wawrinka have already secured their O2 spots and, with Cilic almost certain to get one of the remaining four, there are just three more to play for with the likes of Nishikori, Berdych, Raonic, Ferrer, Murray and Dimitrov all still hoping to qualify.
With Nishikori, Berdych and Raonic ahead of them in the rankings, both Andy Murray and David Ferrer have added the Erste Bank Open in Vienna to their schedules this week, whilst Berdych and Dimitrov take in the Stockholm Open and Raonic and Cilic compete for the Kremlin Cup.
Erste Bank Open
Murray is the 13/8 favourite in Vienna but, whilst he is unarguably the best player in the field at his peak, he has struggled this season in the main, and second favourite Ferrer is readily preferred at 11/4, especially as he beat Murray in Shanghai last week. The flashy Spaniard also has the better draw on paper.
Ferrer @ 11/4
Raonic and Cilic share favouritism at 2/1 for the Kremlin Cup, but as Raonic was ill last week and Cilic has, unsurprisingly, took his foot off the gas since winning the US Open, it looks a good time to get a little more adventurous with 25/1 shot Mikhail Kukushkin. The Russian is playing at home this week and has won in Russia before (St Petersburg), while he also reached the final here last year.
Mikhail Kukushkin each-way @ 25/1
In Stockholm, the 40/1 about three time finalist Jarkko Nieminen looks good value. He’s also made the semis twice and the quarters a further three times, and admits he feels at home here.
If you prefer a shorter one, I’d side with Dimitrov who won it last year, is hungry to establish himself in tennis’s highest echelon as quickly as possible, and sees qualifying for the ATP Masters as a major step towards reaching that hierarchy.
Jarkko Nieminen each-way @ 40/1
Dimitrov @ 5/2
Verdasco to beat Matosevic @ 10/11 (Stockholm)
Klizan to beat Becker @ 3/4 (Vienna)
Dudi Sela to beat Donskoy @ 7/10 (Moscow)