ATP Cologne Men's Outright Tips: Bautista-Agut and Ruusuvuori capable of progress

Following the conclusion of the French Open on Sunday, the ATP Tour continues with three more tournaments in the coming week. Dan Weston gives his thoughts on each...

Clay continues after Nadal victory

Rafa Nadal got the job done in straight sets over Novak Djokovic in Paris to win his 13th French Open title, but the ATP Tour clay action still keeps going with a 250 level tournament in Sardinia taking place this week. I'm not sure why there's a clay event taking place after the French Open, and the tournament takes place in what is an unknown venue with no main tour matches having taken place in this new venue.

Ruud and Musetti with high future potential

The four seeded players with round one byes in Italy are Fabio Fognini, Albert Ramos, Casper Ruud and Dusan Lajovic, and it's the latter duo who have shown most ability so far since the resumption of the tour. Certainly, the Norwegian talent, Ruud, who is the 4.30 tournament favourite, looks to have real ability and future potential on this surface and he's also joined by another extremely talented young player, Lorenzi Musetti, in the draw. Musetti has a tough first round against Pablo Cuevas - one of the hardest opponents he could have drawn in round one - and then a quarter-final potentially against Ruud, so the Italian teenager will really have deserved his progress if he makes the latter stages.

Fognini and Ramos with kind draws

Both Fognini and Ramos have struggled post-lockdown but Fognini is an inconsistent player who could easily play lights out this week in his home country. He's 8.80 on the Exchange and has a pretty kind draw in the top quarter. Ramos, priced at 16.00, also has a generous draw - much more so than Ruud, for example - and while there are threats from the likes of Corentin Moutet and Marco Cecchinato in quarter two, the Spaniard will be confident of his chances of making the latter stages.

Zverev favourite in Cologne

The other 250 this week is an indoor hard event taking place in Cologne, with Alexander Zverev the 3.85 favourite to lift the trophy in his home country. He gets a first round bye along with Benoit Paire, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista-Agut. Interesting further names in the draw include Andy Murray, Filip Krajinovic, Emil Ruusuvuori and Marin Cilic. The young Finn, Ruusuvouri, had excellent indoor hard data at Challenger level when moving up the rankings while Krajinovic is also strong indoors, and had played well prior to the French Open.

Ruusuvuori an interesting long-shot

Both Krajinovic as well as Andy Murray are in Zverev's first quarter, which makes things potentially tricky for the top seed, while Ruusuvuori is capable of progression out of Benoit Paire's quarter two. Paire has had difficulties since the tour resumed and qualifier Ruusuvuori could well be the player to benefitHe's 40/1 with the Sportsbook and that's not a bad each-way spot in my view.

Bautista-Agut can come through bottom half of the draw

Out of those players in the bottom half of the draw, Bautista-Agut looks well placed and can be backed at 8.60 on the Exchange to win the trophy. Given that the bottom half of the draw looks less competitive than the top half, I quite like this although Marton Fucsovics potentially in round two is a little tricky.

Medvedev favourite in competitive St Petersburg event

Finally, a 500 level tournament also takes place indoors, with St Petersburg the venue. Historically, the venue has played a little slow compared to the average indoor court (although pretty quick obviously compared to clay!) and the defending champion Daniil Medvedev is the 3.40 favourite to make it two from two.

The difference with 500s is that the top four seeds don't get byes and therefore the tournament winner must play five matches to win the title. The field, understandably given the extra rewards, has attracted some high-quality players, with the likes of Borna Coric, Karen Khachanov, Milos Raonic, Andrey Rublev, Stan Wawrinka and Denis Shapovalov all likely to be confident of their chances of reaching the latter stages.

This looks a fascinating tournament which should be pretty competitive. Medvedev looks justified as being the favourite but those players above represent threats to this, and it wouldn't surprise me if Rublev, at 8.40, who has performed very strongly since the tour resumed, comes through the bottom half of the draw. However, I'm sticking with Ruusuvuori and Bautista-Agut in Cologne as my tentative picks for the coming week.

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