Daniil Medvedev will hope for a happy homecoming as the US Open finalist leads the field at the 2019 St. Petersburg Open this week.
Top seed Medvedev has had a brilliant year but was not quite able to cap his stellar 2019 with a first grand slam title, being edged out by Rafael Nadal in New York.
Medvedev had been almost unbeatable in the buildup to Flushing Meadows but found the big step up to becoming a major champion slightly too high to hurdle at this stage of his career.
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But being able to go toe to toe with an all-time great like Nadal will surely be another confidence boost for Medvedev, who is a clear favourite to claim the St. Petersburg Open title.
His biggest competition could be from another rising star from Russia, with Karen Khachanov made the second seed and therefore placed in the opposite section of the draw.
Local tennis fans would no doubt love to see Medvedev take on Khachanov in the final, but do the duo offer the best value in the betting for this week’s tournament? Let’s take a look and see.
Medvedev Best Placed to Break “Big Three” Dominance
Many tennis fans and pundits have been concerned about the apparent lack of players breaking through to challenge Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Those three men remain the dominant force in the sport but the coming man now looks to be Daniil Medvedev, who has a chance this week to show how he performs under higher expectations.
As both the favourite and the top seed for the St. Petersburg Open according to tennis bookmakers, home fans will be hoping he shows his best tennis and comes out on top at the end of the competition.
What is for sure is that he will have the backing of supporters present at the event, but is it worth taking him on in this tournament?
Now the world number four after he climbed above Dominic Thiem, Medvedev has reached the final of the last four events he has entered – Washington, Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open.
That means he has an awful lot of tennis in his legs from the last couple of months, but momentum is on his side and the backing of a home crowd should help to cancel out any tiredness he is still feeling from a gruelling couple of weeks in New York.
Medvedev has to show he is the man to succeed Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at the very top of the game and the St. Petersburg Open is the ideal opportunity to do so.
Khachanov Another Top-10 Star on Show
There will not have been many occasions where a tournament held in Russia has been able to feature two home favourites who are both in the top 10 of the world rankings.
But while Medvedev’s star is on the rise, it is unfair to forget all about the exciting prospect of his fellow countryman Karen Khachanov, who announced himself on the global stage with a triumph at the Paris Masters close to a year ago.
Consistency has perhaps eluded him in the time since that breakthrough victory but Khachanov, like Medvedev, will be seeking to become the first Russian to win the St. Petersburg Open since the great Mikhail Youzhny 15 years ago.
The 23-year-old is hunting his first title of the year. One of the three cheques he banked last year was collected in Moscow, so returning to his home country could be a welcome boost for him.
Rublev the Third Russian to Watch This Week
World number 38 Andrey Rublev might not get quite as much attention as Medvedev and Khachanov this week, he is well worth considering at the 2019 St. Petersburg Open.
Rublev is still just 21 but he has picked up some eye-catching results over the course of his young career, including dumping out Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round of the US Open.
That victory came after he beat two Swiss stars in the form of Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer in Cincinnati, with Rublev continuing to show he simply does not get over-awed.
Seeded sixth for this week’s tournament, Rublev will have a tougher task to get through to the final than his two fellow Russians but he has a decent chance of winning what would be only his second career title, the first coming on the outdoor clay courts of Umag back in 2017.
Wawrinka’s Experience Could Tell
Of the other top seeds for the St. Petersburg Open, Stan Wawrinka might be the most interesting from a betting perspective as the fifth seed.
It is a long time since Wawrinka was considered an elite player, but he is back in the top 20 of the world rankings having got to the quarter-finals of the US Open, where he lost to Medvedev.
At 34, few players in the field can match Wawrinka’s experience but the fact he has not won a title on the ATP tour since 2017 is a factor that has to count against him this week.
St. Petersburg Open Best Bets
Daniil Medvedev is the biggest name in the field for the St. Petersburg Open and after he reached the final of the US Open it is no surprise to see him top of the betting for a home event this week.
His current betting odds reflect the fact the world number four should lift the trophy at the end of the tournament if he is able to fight off any fatigue caused by his incredible recent form.
Those who consider Medvedev a touch too short to back could instead look towards Andrey Rublev, a player who has been able to secure incredible victories on his day without necessarily showing the consistency that will help him continue to move up the world rankings.
Wawrinka could ordinarily be of interest but the three top Russians in the draw have all beaten him in recent weeks and he is likely to come up against at least one of them in St. Petersburg.
Tomas Berdych is another former top star in the draw, having gained entry thanks to his protected ranking, but it is hard to see him going all the way here.