This week’s big event on the ATP Tour is the shiny new Valencia Open 500, which replaces the old Valencia event that used to be held in the spring on clay.
It’s now played on a greenset indoor hard court at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, which is one of the most spectacular sporting venues around and well worth a visit.
The surface is completely new as far as tournament play is concerned, but David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, who each interestingly hold part ownership of the event, have played on it and describe the surface as ‘neither too fast or too slow’.
In Ferrer and Ferrero there are two players who will definitely be giving somewhere near 100 percent, a this event means a lot to them. This is more than can be said of the majority of the rest of the competitors, who are on the whole a bit of a bedraggled bunch.
The list of players in this event who are currently injured or carrying an injury is vast and comprises: Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Feliciano Lopez, Tomas Berdych and Igor Andreev – and those are just the ones we know about.
Talking of injuries, Valencia sees the return to the tour of Andy Murray, who by all accounts has stepped up the training in recent weeks and is thought to be ready for this tournament.
The Scot, who has fallen back to number four in the world rankings due to his inactivity in recent weeks, has been given a pretty handy draw with a trio of Spaniards as the main opposition.
Defending Valencia champion (on clay), Ferrer is the seed in Murray’s quarter, while Verdasco 11.0 and Tommy Robredo 42.0 are also in the Scot’s half of the draw.
Confidence isn’t high in any of the home players, as far as form and fitness are concerned, so, on paper, Murray shouldn’t have too many problems reaching the final .
His biggest challenge could well come from a motivated Ferrer, who may be worth a small interest at around 32.0 in the event of Murray coming unstuck, but the Scot is a confident choice in the top half of the draw.
As far as the bottom half is concerned, Ferrero is an obvious choice as far as motivation is concerned, but his recent form is very poor, so again a small stakes wager on him could be a good strategy at around 80.0.
The bottom half looks far more competitive than the top half, where Nikolay Davydenko 4.8, Gilles Simon 16.0, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils 18.0 and perhaps Mikhail Youzhny 75.0 all have claims.
Davydenko has more or less qualified for the end of year jamboree in London and is more likely to save himself for Paris next week than bust a gut here, while the others have injury worries, so it may be worth taking a chance on Tsonga.
The Frenchman should be more motivated here than he was last week in Lyon, where he couldn’t add any points to his chase to make the top eight for London and we saw in Paris this time last year that Tsonga does put the effort in during the autumn with a goal to aim for.
He faces a tricky opener against Youzhny, but he holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over the Russian and on the whole Tsonga’s quarter doesn’t look overly difficult, with the possible exception of an inspired Ferrero.
If Davydenko is on one of his ‘go’ weeks then he will be a huge threat to Tsonga’s London aspirations and they are seeded to meet in the semi-finals here, which could turn out to be an exciting clash (2-0 Davydenko head-to-head).
In conclusion, Murray should go far here, but at 2.7 he’s around the same price he would be had he not spent weeks out with injury, so Tsonga is the choice at a nicer price of around 12.0.
Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. Ã‚Â© The Sporting Exchange Limited
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BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford