Cincinnati last week was a disappointing affair following on from a couple of golden weeks, but with the US Open only a week away, there is still one more chance for profit prior to the big one.
The Pilot Pen in New Haven is a relatively new event as far as the men’s tour is concerned, having merged with the existing ladies tournament in 2005, but prior to that it was played in Long Island, New York, from 1981 to 2004.
It’s always a point of conjecture amongst tennis watchers as to how the New Haven courts play, as the event organisers tend to change the surface each year, but it has generally been regarded as one of the slower hard court surfaces in recent years.
That being said, James Blake has won here twice since 2005 and reigning champion is Marin Cilic, so read into that what you will.
New Haven is the last opportunity for those who haven’t had much court time recently to fine tune their game before New York and it is one such player who attracts my interest as far as betting is concerned.
Fernando Verdasco was very disappointing in Cincy, where he lost in the first round to fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez, after which he requested a wild card for New Haven in order to get some court time.
Verdasco has a decent 9-4 record in New Haven, having reached the semi-finals here last year (lost to Fish) and he looks to have much the easiest draw to go one better this time.
For a 24-year-old world number 10 to have only two career titles to his name is a poor return and by far the worst record of the current top 10 (even the younger Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have five and four respectively) and he should be looking to win these sorts of events regularly at this stage of his career.
The Madrid man finds himself with Andreas Seppi 40.00, Jurgen Melzer () and Victor Hanescu () in his quarter and if he can’t get through that he might as well forget about turning up in New York.
Assuming Verdasco can make the last eight, his likely opponent is anyone’s guess after the withdrawal with knee problems of David Ferrer (replaced by Olivier Rochus in the draw).
The adjacent quarter has Igor Andreev 17.0 as the top seed and Germans Phillip Petzschner 40.0 and Andreas Beck 50.0 as the remaining seeds, while the only others of note in the section are Marcos Baghdatis 29.0 and Leonardo Mayer 50.0.
The opposite side of the draw looks a tough one to call, with two-time finalist Mardy Fish 13.5, number one seed Nikolay Davydenko 4.2, recent tournament winners Jeremy Chardy 15.0 and Sam Querrey being the leading lights along with Tommy Robredo 23.0 and Nicolas Almagro 55.0.
Of these, Querrey for my money is the one to side with to reach the final at around 8.0.
The big hitting American has reached four finals already this year and his straight sets win over Andy Roddick in Cincy will have boosted his confidence still further.
Whether the courts at New Haven will suit Querrey is another matter. The world number 23 hasn’t played here since 2006 and if they are on the slow side it won’t be to his advantage.
Davydenko won this event without dropping a set in 2006, but lost in the last 16 to Gilles Simon in 2007 and having watched his defeat to the same player in Cincy last week, confidence in the Russian isn’t high.
Davydenko sprayed a massive 61 unforced errors in three sets against Simon, which is certainly not the kind of form you want from a market leader, so once again I will most likely be laying the Russian in New Haven rather than backing him.
Fish has a very good 10-4 record in New Haven and he has reached the finals here the last two years in a tournament he really enjoys playing at, but there are injury concerns over the number five seed.
Fish suffered a fractured rib in Washington and subsequently withdrew from both Montreal and Cincy, so it appears unlikely that the Tampa resident will be at his best here this year.
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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BIOGRAPHY: Cesc Fabregas