Stan the man for Basel
Stanislas Wawrinka is the man to side with in Basel on the ATP World Tour this week, according to our Andy Schooler.
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The race for places in the ATP World Tour Finals continues in Basel this week and the man I want on my side is Stanislas Wawrinka, one of those still looking to book his spot in London.
The Swiss star has enjoyed the season of his life and and few would want to deny one of the tour's most affable characters a place in the elite eight-man field at the O2.
Since his impressive US Open run, which included beating Andy Murray and pushing Novak Djokovic the distance in the semis, Wawrinka has made the last four in Kuala Lumpur and the quarters in Shanghai where he lost to Rafael Nadal; no disgrace there.
In what is a strong Basel field, Wawrinka has landed in a kind part of the draw with Andreas Seppi the seeded player in his quarter.
A path to the semis (he has made two here before) looks a pretty comfortable one for a player who will have the home fans right on his side.
Defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro is the man seeded to meet Wawrinka in the last four. He's been in good fom of late and will have his backers at 11/4.
But I'm tempted by the bigger 9/1 price of Wawrinka.
The Argentine has already booked his place in London so doesn't have the same motivation and also has a tricky-looking quarter-final lined up against Richard Gasquet - another man who does need the ranking points with London in mind.
Wawrinka's price also make him an each-way bet and that's the path I'm going to tread.
The bottom half certainly looks tougher.
Tomas Berdych is seeded to make the final but has a miserable record in Basel, winning just three of eight previous matches at the venue. He's also in a devilishly-tough section of the draw, opening against the always-dangerous Ivo Karlovic, while Vienna runner-up Robin Haase could await in round two.
Then, of course, there's Roger Federer - another man sure to attract the cash at 5/1.
It's rare you'll see a five-time champion offered at such a price but that's the case with Federer, who has reached the final here in each of the last seven years.
Federer has a highly-impressive record at indoor events and if he's going to add to his solitary title this season, obtained at Halle back in June, you would think it will most likely come here.
But I'm wary of backing the great man at all these days. His game breaks down too often and a look through his results shows he's capable of losing to the most unlikely characters. It's sad to say it, but he's not to be trusted any more with my cash, certainly not at 5/1.
As in Basel, there are 500 points up for grabs to winner in Valencia where home favourite David Ferrer heads the betting at 4/1.
As a two-time winner, he's worthy of consideration but a few factors put me off.
Ferrer reached the final last week in Stockholm, is due to defend his Paris Masters crown next week and then heads straight to London. That's potentially four weeks of back-to-back tennis. Throw in his first-round draw - Gael Monfils - and I wouldn't be hugely surprised to see the favourite fall early.
In the bottom half, 35-year-old Tommy Haas is second seed but will have plenty of tennis in his legs after winning in Vienna. In a tough part of the draw, he's worth opposing.
It may be worth doing so with Mikhail Youzhny, a potential second-round foe, who often plays his best tennis indoors. Indeed, five of his nine ATP titles have come with a roof over his head.
However, I was hoping to get a bigger price than 20/1 so I'll leave alone on this occasion. He's worth bearing in mind for those involved in match betting, though, especially once you know he's fully recovered from illness suffered in Shanghai.
Instead I'm going to go with Marcel Granollers as an oustide bet.
I mentioned last week how certain tournaments bring out the best in some players. On that occasion Jarkko Nieminen failed to deliver, losing narrowly in round two in Stockholm.
However, the theory is worth another go with Granollers, a man whose results here are much better than his career in general.
Since the tournament moved indoors in 2009, the Spaniard has won it once (2011) and finished runner-up on another occasion (2010). He also made the last eight last season.
I can't deny form isn't great but two recent heavy defeats to Novak Djokovic shouldn't be too much of a concern - the Serb's game causes Granollers massive problems but he isn't here this week.
What is worth noting is that Granollers does also have a poor record against both Nicolas Almagro and the aforementioned Ferrer so will need those two removed from his path.
I've already mentioned Monfils though and with Fernando Verdasco possibly ready to eliminate Almagro - he holds a 6-3 record against his compatriot - it is feasible. Granollers lead Verdasco 2-0 in their head to head.
I'm not ready to give up on my theory just yet, although with the ifs and buts attached to the bet I'll only back him at 33/1 to minimum stakes.