Betting preview: Kei Nishikori can be Madrid Open Master

If you read last week’s betting preview, then you will have some extra cash in your pockets today as Joao Sousa won the Estoril Open and Alexander Zverev was victorious in Munich.

In case you had forgotten Sousa was a 16/1 outsider to win his home title while Zverev was 2/1 in Germany.

Without further ado, here is this week’s Madrid Open preview.

Rafael Nadal is looking just about unbeatable on the red stuff at the moment, and he goes for a sixth title at the Mutua Madrid Open this week.

His wins on clay this year have been occurring as regularly as Monday following Sunday and rather unsurprisingly the camel coats have him chalked up as a piping hot 4/9 jolly at the Caja Magica.

Rafa is riding a 19-match winning streak on clay and will probably start his campaign against Gael Monfils in the second round. He has not been handed the kindest draw however, with class acts Dominic Thiem and Juan Martin Del Potro lurking.

Nadal is 34-5 lifetime in Madrid, and while that’s a fine record it shows he’s not been as dominant here as he has in places like Monte Carlo or Roland Garros.

Thiem was a finalist last year, while the wily old dog of war Del Potro won’t be fazed by mixing it with Spain’s raging bull. Indeed the draw makes interesting reading, with plenty of huge servers in the bottom half.

Madrid is played at higher altitude than other big European clay events and this gives the massive power servers a definite advantage.

One intriguing first round clash to savor is Novak Djokovic against Kei Nishikori. ‘Nole’ has twice won in Madrid but he’s looked a shadow of his former self this season and one wonders what reuniting with his long-standing coach Marian Vajda for the European clay swing will do for his flagging fortunes.

Nishikori is no joke on clay, as a recent final appearance in Monte Carlo testifies, and so Djokovic will have to bring his ‘A-game’ just to make it into round two.

The mercurial Nishikori has reached the Madrid quarter-finals or better in each of the past five years, including a runner-up finish in 2014, so is the pick to send Djokovic packing. Nishikori has had two weeks away from the main Tour so should be fresh. He’s been hitting in Madrid since Wednesday, so is clearly taking it seriously and could be worth an each-way punt at 25/1.

Second seed Alexander Zverez, fresh from his exploits in Munich last week, reached the quarter-finals here last year and will fancy his chances of going deep this week. However he will likely face brilliant young gun-slinger Stefanos Tsitsipas first up. Tsitsipas went all the way to the final in Barcelona recently and has the game to give anyone nightmares on clay.

A heavy serve can do some damage at this kind of altitude so John Isner looks another possible play at 40/1. With his serve, forehand and new found on court positivity he will be tough to beat, especially after claiming a maiden Masters 1000 title at Crandon Park earlier this year.

For a big man he’s no mug on the dirt, and it’s worth remembering he was two sets to one up against Nadal at the 2011 French Open (though ended up losing in five). He should be confident after landing the biggest title of his career at Indian Wells and looks a decent each-way shout in that bottom half.

Bilko’s Banker: Kei Nishikori to win the Madrid Open at 25/1 (Bet Victor)
Best of the Rest: John Isner to win the Madrid Masters (each way) at 40/1 (Bet Victor)

Deggsy Bilton