Nadal too hot to oppose
Tim Clement previews this week's China Open and he just can't bring himself to oppose red-hot Rafael Nadal.
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Rafael Nadal is justifiably odds-on in places for the China Open as he looks to secure his inevitable return to world number one.
The Spaniard has stood head and shoulders above the rest since regaining his fitness, racking up 10 titles with another imperious clay campaign and an unbeaten run on the hard courts.
The US Open champion will be attempting to extend that at the Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Center by dethroning Novak Djokovic.
A 13th final appearance of the year will see the 'King of Clay' return to number one, while Djokovic's only chance of staving off the assault on spot at the top of the game would involve him winning against somebody other than his great rival come Sunday.
The Serb does, however, have his own 100 per cent record to maintain, having lifted the trophy in all three previous visits.
Sky Bet go an industry leading 6/4 for Djokovic to defend his title, with the bookies giving little respect to the rest of the field.
Tomas Berdych is next in line in the betting at 20/1 with Ladbrokes but can only be considered an each-way option given he has lost all three finals contested in 2013, including Sunday's defeat to Milos Raonic in Bangkok.
David Ferrer (33/1) is the usual option to oppose the big two but has produced below-par results since reaching the French Open final, losing to a string of players he would usually be expected to see off.
It remains to be seen how Stanislas Wawrinka (also 33/1) will respond to his impressive run at the US Open, when he lost a semi-final five-set battle with Djokovic.
Having taken a 2-1 lead against the world number one it could be translated that he's got a great chance of prevailing in a best-of-three contest if they meet in the quarter-finals as scheduled, but a 0-10 head-to-head with favourite Nadal points to more each-way cover.
Richard Gasquet also reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows before slipping to a 11th successive defeat to Nadal and avoids the Spaniard's half of the draw.
He, like plenty others in the field, has the added motivation of attempting to qualify for the lucrative ATP World Tour Finals as he sits a place outside the qualification places.
Therefore, I'd suggest Gasquet and Wawrinka are the men to put your faith in if backing favourites isn't your thing but, as aforementioned, the big question is how they will respond to their tough loses in New York.
John Isner's inability to rack up titles outside of the America, having failed to do so since 2010, means he is dismissed, while Tommy Haas' results of late have consistently disappointing.
Ultimately, making a case to oppose Nadal is virtually impossible - he has the motivation of being crowned world number one again and is in the form of his life - winning six of his last seven events.
Take the 11/10 available at various bookmakers now as he will quickly descend into odds-on across the industry.
Either that or face the risk of looking back on the reality that you opposed a man currently making a strong case for being considered the game's greatest ever player.