Wawrinka worth a bet to conquer St Petersburg
Gasquet should go well in Metz
ATP St Petersburg
Stan Wawrinka has had recent campaigns cut short by injury but the three-time Grand Slam winner has showed plenty of positive signs since returning to the court and he could triumph in St Petersburg.
The Swiss performer is unlikely to reach the heights of Grand Slam glory again following a long-term knee injury and a slide in the rankings, but his performances have been promising this season.
Since his return, Wawrinka has been unlucky to bump into some of the finest players on tour. He won two matches in the Canadian Open before coming up against world number one Rafael Nadal and made the last eight in the Cincinnati Masters, where his compatriot Roger Federer came back from a set down to halt his progress.
The 33-year-old was knocked out by big-serving Milos Raonic in the third round of the US Open, having already upset Grigor Dimitrov, and a competition against lesser rivals could be what is needed for him to regain the winning touch.
Wawrinka faces Aljaz Bedene in his opener before a potential duel with in-form Russian Karen Khachanov, but at his best he would prove too strong for both.
He has been working hard to regain his fitness and a chance should be taken that he is fully wound-up to chase some well-deserved silverware.
Dominic Thiem heads the market and must be taken seriously after taking Nadal to five sets in the quarter-final of the US Open.
1pt each-way 15-2 Betfair, Paddy Power
Kei Nishikori makes his first appearance since making the last four of the US Open and bookmakers believe the Japanese ace is the man they all have to beat in the Metz Open.
However, top seed Nishikori hasn’t won a title since claiming the Memphis Open two years ago and an opening match against defending champion Peter Gojowczyk or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a three-time winner of this event, makes him opposable at the prices.
Nishikori is also drawn in the same half as 2016 champion Lucas Pouille and reliable German duo Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mischa Zverev, so it could be best to look elsewhere.
Seven of the last nine winners of this indoor event have been French and Richard Gasquet, armed with a favourable draw, could enhance that elusive record.
Gasquet is a classy operator who has landed five titles in his career on home soil and a first-round bye before a likely showdown with Jurgen Zopp should ease him into his stride.
The 32-year-old made the third round of the US Open before losing in straight-sets to Novak Djokovic, but there was little shame in that and he showed enough in wins over Yuichi Sugita and Laslo Djere to suggest his game is in good nick.
Promising Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas looks the chief danger in the bottom half of the draw but he was a first-round casualty 12 months ago and has something to prove following an early exit at Flushing Meadows.
1pt 9-2 bet365, Betfred
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