ATP Metz & St Petersburg (Monday 17th September – Sunday 23rd September 2012)

It seems an eternity seems I’ve sat down, reviewed the tournaments for the week ahead and put together a piece for BETDAQ. What with the final Grand Slam of the year in New York and the Davis Cup semi finals, tournament tennis has been of the essence over the last couple of weeks. Of course it wouldn’t be right not to wax lyrical about Andy Murray’s achievement at Flushing Meadows. The Scot had already had a magnificent summer, reaching the final at Wimbledon before winning Olympic Gold at London 2012. Murray came into the US Open at a very short price for a player not to have won one of the four majors and it was his price more than his ability that put me off putting him up as a headline pick for the event. Since Andy’s first Grand Slam final appearance back in 2008, I’ve always been of the opinion that he would absolutely win one of the four tournaments that all players want to win. Despite four previous final defeats, my belief never wavered and couldn’t have been more delighted to see him pick up his first of what I hope will be many Grand Slam titles.

The first of this coming week’s events comes from ‘The Green City’ of Metz in the north east of France and defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks a cut above this field in my opinion. The world number seven doesn’t come into the tournament in the greatest of form, having been defeated in the 2nd round at the US Open. Having said that, defending champion and home favourite Tsonga should be strong enough to become a two-time champion here. If I look through the other seeded players, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marcel Granollers, Florian Mayer, and Andreas Seppi aren’t known as serial tournament winners. French players have a great record in the event with Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon having won the tournament in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Tsonga’s draw isn’t a bad one either. A likely quarter final against Jarkko Nieminen could be considered tricky but nothing more and in all honesty, I’d be more surprised than disappointed if Tsonga wasn’t lifting the Metz trophy come one week today. It goes without saying the price about Tsonga will be a short one but if say 7/4 presents itself on BETDAQ, my recommendation would be to take it.

Selection – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

The second event of the week is a bit more of a conundrum and to be blunt, the field isn’t the strongest assembled. This isn’t out of the ordinary for the event and if you look at the roll of honour, 2010 champion Mikhail Kukushkin and 2009 champion Sergiy Stakhovsky aren’t what I would consider household names. Nevertheless, the competition presents an opportunity for some of the lesser-known players to make a name for themselves. Top seed and 2004 champion Mikhail Youzhny currently finds himself ranked at number 29 in the world which further illustrates the prospect of another tournament winner that seasonal tennis fans may not have come across.

I can’t be having Mikhail Youzhny this week. For a player to have played 36 matches at the event (winning 29 and losing 7) and to have only won the event once seems a little alarming to me. Admittedly he is a player that should be taken very seriously this week and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him advance to the latter stages of the draw. With such a poor conversion rate for the number of matches he has won in St Petersburg, I’ll pass Youzhny over for a player who hasn’t competed at this event before but is perhaps playing the best tennis of his career. Sitting at number 46 in the world at the time of writing, Martin Klizan can boast the highest ATP singles ranking of his career. The Slovakian left-hander beat my other column pick Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the US Open earlier this month and has already won four lower tier challenger events in 2012. Klizan clearly knows his way around a tennis court and possesses the knowledge on how to get over the winning line. As mentioned previously, Klizan has never played the event in Russia and despite claiming his favourite surface is clay (indeed all four of his challenger titles have been on the dirt), he showed in New York that he is adept at transferring his game to different surfaces. Klizan will face a Russian wildcard in round one which I hope will ease the Slovak into the event and if he can carry his American momentum into Russia, I think he could oblige at a nice double figure price.

Selection – Martin Klizan

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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