This week’s Winston-Salem Open is the last chance for players to prepare for the US Open. Our Andy Schooler bids to find the winner with 14/1 and 16/1 tennis tips.


Winston-Salem Open

Winston-Salem, USA (outdoor hard)

There’s just one ATP Tour event taking place in the week leading up to the US Open with 48 players warming up in North Carolina.

With the final Grand Slam tournament of the season looming, it’s fair to say not all 48 will be going full pelt to win the trophy – some will undoubtedly want to hold something back with so much money and may ranking points on offer in New York.

So we want to avoid those types and attempt to find those who will be prepared to go deep in Winston-Salem.


PCB looks A-OK

In the top half of the draw I like the look of Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Spaniard appears to be returning to some decent form.

In Cincinnati he qualified, then beat Gilles Simon and John Isner before running into world number one Novak Djokovic.

This is a player who earlier in the season made the last 16 of the Australian Open and only lost to Kei Nishikori 7-6 in the fifth set after a five-hour battle.

Carreno Busta may have made his name on clay but he’s very adept on hardcourts and it should be remembered that he has a decent longer-term record on DecoTurf – the surface being used during this ‘US Open Series’ – too.

Two years ago PCB made the semi-finals of the US Open, while at this particular tournament, the 28-year-old emerged as the champion in 2016 and 12 months ago made the last four.

He now holds a pretty decent 11-4 win-loss record in Winston-Salem and has a draw which makes improving on that seem more than possible over the coming week.


Brit Evans holds hope

Top seed Benoit Paire is a potential quarter-final foe but the Frenchman can lose to anyone and, as ever, I’m happy to oppose him.

Carreno Busta has shown that he’s prepared to give his all here in the week before a Grand Slam and he warrants support at 14/1.

Steve Johnson, the man who beat Carreno Busta here last year, is another who has a proven track record of not holding back in the week before a Slam.

As well as last year’s runner-up effort here, he made the semis in 2015. Johnson also has a title win in Nottingham from the week before Wimbledon in 2016.

Despite some poor form, he’s a tempting 28/1 shot. However, a tricky draw sees him up against talented Frenchman Corentin Moutet first with Briton Dan Evans then his second-round opponent.

Evans (12/1) will have his own backers – one of his two tour-level final appearances came in the week before a Slam in Sydney in 2017 – but he’s not been in his best form despite his penchant for the hardcourts, so Carreno Busta in the man for me in this section.


Hurkacz has hardcourt form

In the bottom half, Hubert Hurkacz is a player who has collected a string of strong results on hardcourts this season and this looks a great opportunity for him to break his ATP title duck.

The 22-year-old Pole beat Kei Nishikori en route to the quarter-finals in Dubai, and repeated the trick in Indian Wells where he also claimed the scalps of Lucas Pouille and Denis Shapovalov.

In Miami it was Dominic Thiem taken down by Hurkacz and more recently he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal.

A player who was involved in Slam qualifying events last season, Hurkacz is well used to playing (and winning matches) the week before a major.

Despite having earned direct entry for this year’s Australian Open, that trend continued when he won on the Challenger Tour the week before.

Possessing a strong serve and with plenty of power off the ground, Hurkacz looks the class act in the third quarter and decent value at 16/1.


Berdych to shock?

I must admit I’m a little wary of Tomas Berdych, who is making his comeback from his latest hip problem.

The former Wimbledon finalist has played just one match since Indian Wells but he produced the goods at the start of the season following a similar lay-off when he reached the final in Doha.

The Czech was around the 40/1 mark that week but is considerably shorter here at 25s.

That’s a bit on the short side to warrant serious interest as far as I’m concerned.


Murray in loaded quarter

The fourth quarter looks rather loaded with second seed Denis Shapovalov (12/1) nominally heading up the section – his poor form is highlighted by the fact he holds a losing record in 2019.

Former world number one Andy Murray, playing just his second tournament of his comeback and going off at 22/1, is also here, as is 6/1 favourite Sam Querrey (three times a semi-finalist but never a finalist) and last week’s Roger Federer-slayer Andrey Rublev (20/1).

It’s possible Miomir Kecmanovic, fresh from wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex Zverev in Cincinnati, could upset the lot of them and emerge from this section at a tasty 25/1. However, this part of the draw looks very tough to call and probably worth avoiding.


Pablo Carreno Busta each way –

Hubert Hurkacz each way –

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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