Make it Murray for capital gains
Our Andy Schooler brings you his betting preview of the ATP World Tour Finals with home hope Andy Murray his headline pick.
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It's been the best year for British tennis in an awfully long time and Andy Murray can cap it off with victory at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals this week.
The British star, who will be competing in front of his home fans at the O2 in London, broke his Grand Slam duck at the US Open, just weeks after winning Olympic gold.
And now he looks the logical call for victory at this prestigious event which features the season's best eight players - or rather eight of the top nine with Rafael Nadal absent through injury.
Murray's performances in the past six months mean he is now very much sitting at the top table of the game rather than simply sharing the same room as the likes of Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
He beat Federer in the Olympic final and Djokovic in the US decider, shedding the tag of being a nearly man.
He'll face Djokovic, the tournament favourite, again here in the group stage but even if he loses that contest, Murray should progress to the last four with Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in the pool.
Murray may have fallen just short in several recent matches - he's had three defeats since the US Open in matches in which he's held match point - but narrow losses in Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris shouldn't be too much of a concern.
This is the one tournament that really matters after the US Open, particularly to Murray, and instead it should be seen as a positive that he was within a single point of defeating Djokovic again in China.
Djokovic, slightly shorter than Murray in the betting, clearly has the potential to win but at no better than 9/4 there are reasons to swerve him.
A lot of the top players failed to perform in Paris last week but arguably of most concern of all of those 'shock' defeats was Djokovic's.
He won the first eight games against Sam Querrey before losing in his opening match.
The nature of his defeat suggests very much that his mind is elsewhere due to his father's recent illness.
Djokovic's post-match comments were hardly encouraging for London backers either.
"Now that I'm done with the tournament, I will sit down with the team and see what's the best thing to do before London," said the Serb.
"The way I feel, I definitely need a few days' rest, and then try to get a few days' practice before the tournament starts."
Anyone who saw Djokovic at the O2 last year would have seen an ailing player and his record of 9-9 at the season-ending event belies his position as one of the world's best.
The opposing group would appear the weaker of the two. It is led by Roger Federer but both David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro will fancy their chances of reaching the last four.
Janko Tipsarevic, who has a 1-11 record against his group foes looks up against it.
In contrast, Federer, a 10/3 shot with the layers, is 31-3 but he hasn't looked in the best of form in recent months, with significant defeats to Berdych, Murray and Del Potro in recent times. He last beat one of the seven here back in August.
Certainly his form is not what is was this time last year when he swept all before him in London to win the season-ending event for the sixth time.
Just one defeat in the group stage can eliminate you and that could well come against Del Potro, who beat the Swiss on his home turf in Basel last month.
The value in this group may, however, lie with Ferrer.
The Spaniard is certainly a player in great form at present and he arrives having won back-to-back indoor tournaments in Valencia and Paris.
The level is about to rise in London but no-one goes into the tournament with the momentum he does.
Critics will says he'll be tired after two weeks of tennis and they have a point.
However, history shows that Ferrer has been able to produce some of his best tennis at the back end of the season - having qualified for this event three times he's twice got out of the group stages, reaching the final in 2007 and making the semis 12 months ago.
The court in London's O2 Arena hasn't played particularly quick in previous years and that will help Ferrer's run-all-day game.
He was impressive on return of serve in Paris during the past week and his serve was also tough to break, something which adds up to an impressive package.
Nikolay Davydenko, Del Potro and Tsonga have all been big-priced finalists at the O2 over the past three years and Ferrer's form suggests he could add his name to that list.
So instead of backing him at 13/8 to qualify from his group, we're going to side with him to small stakes each way in the outright market at 28/1.
There are solid reasons to believe it might pay off and leave punters finishing the ATP season on a high.