Simon poised for Shanghai surprise
In-form Frenchman Gilles Simon celebrated his first ATP Tour win of the year earlier in October and he now looks a great outside bet at 40/1 to cause a surprise in the latest Masters Series event in Shanghai.
Simon made a name for himself at the tail-end of 2008 as he stormed to a number of tour titles as well as reaching his solo Masters final in Madrid.
And while he wasn't able to carry the momentum into 2009 he could be set to make a similar end of season run, if his recent Bangkok triumph was a hint of what to expect over the coming week.
The other big bonus for Simon is a field that lacks the massive presence of both world number one Roger Federer and multiple Masters winner Andy Murray.
Fair enough Del Potro, Nadal and Djokovic are still the leading men and the joint favourites at 7/2 but, on his day, Simon can beat all of these, especially with Nadal still a long way off his best.
One thing that is guaranteed from Simon is bucket loads of effort and determination - if anyone is to beat him then they know they'll have been in a hell of match.
He serves well, makes some unbelievable passes and has a forehand comparable to some of the very best in the business.
If he can just get off to a confident start in his opener then his price will start looking short very quickly, you just have to hope he doesn't suffer a return to the form that brought him a tournament drought for the best part of a year.
My other big hope for this week has to be big serving Andy Roddick, who looks easy to back at 8/1 for outright glory.
The likeable American has been enjoying a great 2009 with an appearance at Wimbledon being the major highlight and he should be particularly up for this series knowing a good result will ensure he's back on the plane to London - this time for the ATP's climax event, the World Tour Finals.
Again, the absence of Roger Federer could be the deciding factor for wary punters given A-Rod's inability to beat the great Swiss star, but nobody knows better than the man himself that Roddick can beat anybody else in the world.
Finally, one I'll be avoiding is US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who still searches for a first Masters 1000 title.
The massive Argentine suffered what can only be described as a horrendous defeat at the hands of Roger-Vasselin in the early rounds of the ATP Tokyo last week, certainly not the warm-up that tempts me to invest.
Whether he just had an off day, or perhaps he failed to adapt back to the low key setting after his Flushing Meadows experience, either way I think he is one to watch with interest but I certainly won't be backing him at 7/2 ante-post.