ATP Winston-Salem Open (Sunday 19th August – Sunday 26th August 2012)

In many ways Cincinnati was a strange tournament for column pick Andy Murray. Question marks over his knee problem that forced him out of Toronto mid-event were quickly dashed with a comprehensive defeat of Sam Querrey. To then come out in the very next round and be beaten by a tour journeyman in France’s Jeremy Chardy was surprising to say the least. The real disappointment was Murray’s inability to take advantage of what was undoubtedly a favourable draw. Cincinnati at least allowed Murray to prove to himself that the knee issues shouldn’t hamper him when he looks to remove the Grand Slam monkey from his back in New York, one week from now. The final itself in Ohio was won by Roger Federer and included a first set bagel against a dumbstruck Novak Djokovic. It was a remarkable turnaround from Federer who was dismantled at London 2012 by Andy Murray in the gold medal match. Federer’s performance in London and Djokovic’s in Cincinnati shows us punters that even the game’s top players can have ‘off’ days, only to turn things around in the very next event. It is for that reason I wouldn’t read too much into either performance ahead of the season’s final Grand Slam.

Moving onto the next seven days on the ATP Tour and with just seven days to go until Flushing Meadows, you’d be forgiven for thinking the event in Winston-Salem would feature players that by their own admissions would merely be considered ‘also rans’ in New York. Not the case. Fitness and poor form have probably contributed to the event in North Carolina becoming the strongest ATP 250 tournament of the year so far, a quote from Sky Sports commentator Leif Shiras. With respect to the tournament organisers, they can’t have honestly expected the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych to have committed to playing. Tsonga is probably looking for some court time as he recovers from a leg injury that was oddly caused by a fire hydrant (the injury required stitches), while Berdych is looking for match practice following a poor run of results, having won just two matches from his last six since Roland Garros. Also in the draw is defending champion John Isner, as well as the likes of Alexandr Dolgopolov, Andy Roddick, Marcel Granollers, Sam Querrey, and Julien Benneteau, all of whom are ranked within the top thirty players in the world. Clearly it’s going to be rather difficult to predict the winner this week!

For me, there’s no real value in looking at players who probably wouldn’t have attended this week had their circumstances been slightly more positive. Admittedly Tsonga and Berdych are perhaps a cut above this field and I’m sure they’d rather be feeling happy about their games and healthy within their bodies ahead of the US Open. The fact is they are not. Either player could win this week without reaching top gear and in honesty there is a fair chance that could happen. Their respective prices will likely reflect this and therefore worth swerving under the circumstances.

Sam Querrey is someone that interests me this week. Unlike many of the other seeded players, I think Querrey would have been participating this week regardless and his US hard court form has been as good as anyone’s. Champion in Los Angeles, Querrey also reached the last four in Washington before back-to-back defeats in ATP 100 events to Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Querrey won’t face the likes of Djokovic and Murray this week and I think his big hitting game will stand him in good stead this week. His draw doesn’t look a bad one with Feliciano Lopez a potential last sixteen opponent, followed by a likely meeting with either David Nalbandian or Alexandr Dolgopolov. Tomas Berdych is lurking in the other section in Querrey’s half of the draw but it isn’t a foregone conclusion that Berdych will reach the last four, given his recent form on tour. Querrey arguably finds himself in the easier half of the tournament draw and in a competitive looking event, might be worth taking a chance on at a potentially attractive price.

Selection: Sam Querrey

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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