Injuries, dodgy form, a general malaise. With the Tour heading towards the final Grand Slam of the year, Cincinnati is the last chance for most of the field to tune their skills before the big show at Flushing Meadows.
Needless to say, there are some notable absentees. Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are out for the rest of the season. World No.1 (for now) Andy Murray has joined them on the sick bed, so don’t stick him in your starting eight. It all begs the question: who should you choose for Game Week 26?
It pays to be wary in back-to-back Masters 1000 weeks. If Roger Federer ($20.08m) and / or Rafael Nadal ($21.67m) go deep at the Rogers Cup, there’s no guarantee that they will play Cincinnati. Clearly they might – and either should be the first name on any serious team sheet – but it’s worth checking first.
Who else? Marin Cilic ($13.85m) will set out to defend the title he won in 2016, and there’s no reason to think he can’t. The big Croat is playing confident tennis at the moment, and enjoys his time on the US hard courts.
The same cannot be said for Milos Raonic ($10.57m). After bombing out on home soil, Raonic will be hoping to go deepish at Cincinnati. Whether or not he can remains to be seen. If he’s not in your team, think twice before investing. The same can be said for Dominic Thiem ($9.83m), who appears to be suffering from the second-half-of-the-season malaise that affected him in 2016. As for Kei Nishikori ($9.53m), the Japanese superstar is anything but convincing.
So who is a good buy? Alexander Zverev ($13.37m) might be expensive, but appears to be finding his form (although he has historically struggled at the Slams). Sam Querrey ($9.69m) is growing in confidence after a Wimbledon semifinal and a win in Los Cabos, and after a difficult season Tomas Berdych ($9.73m) looks like a good investment.
At the cheaper end of the field, Grigor Dimitrov ($7.39m) is always a good bet on the hard courts, Roberto Bautista Agut ($8.63m) is a consistent point scorer, and say it quietly but Nick Kyrgios ($4.72m) could well be the game’s bargain player right now.
While the ATP struggles with its injury malaise, the WTA is enjoying one of those rare weeks when (for the most part) the players that should win do win. Karolina Pliskova ($11.57m) still represents decent value for money, as does Elina Svitolina ($12.83m). Simona Halep ($16.52m), meanwhile, feels like an expensive purchase, despite the fact she is a consistent point scorer.
Like the ATP, there are a few players whose values are likely to drop in the coming weeks. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko ($14.28m) suffered a mind boggling capitulation in Toronto. So, too, did Johanna Konta ($9.4m), who imploded at 3-3 in the deciding set of her opening Rogers Cup match. Meanwhile, Kristina Mladenovic ($8.31m) continues to disappoint after a blistering start to the season.
Back to the positives, and there is one player worth looking at: Caroline Wozniacki ($11.9m). The great Dane – a two-time US Open finalist – is not only value for money, but playing at tournaments she knows and likes. Don’t put it past her to pick up a title or two in the coming weeks.
If you’re tight on cash, Ekaterina Makarova ($4.84m) is notching up some good results, Agnieszka Radwanska ($5.56m) is blowing away the opposition at the moment, and Angelique Kerber ($6.18m) is underpriced right now.
Buy: Caroline Wozniacki ($11.9m) – expect her price to rise in the coming weeks with solid runs through the US Open hard court series.
Sell: Dominic Thiem ($9.83m) – the Austrian is struggling at each and every tournament he plays right now.
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