ATP betting preview: 7/1 Marin Cilic to be king at Queen’s

Despite the withdrawals of Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro, the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s should still be a fun watch this week.

Andy Murray is a 20/1 shout as he plays his first competitive event since Sam Querrey outlasted him over five sets at Wimbledon last year. His return ends almost a year of pain, anguish and genuine concern about his future, but he looks up against it straight away in London.

Murray has a majestic resume on grass but has been drawn against Nick Kyrgios first up. The Aussie maverick was last seen pushing Roger Federer all the way in a thrilling semi-final in Stuttgart.

Last week Kyrgios defeated the French Open surprise contender Maximilian Marterer and 2017 Queen’s Club champion, Feliciano Lopez, before losing a cracker to Federer. That run suggests his game is in good order and he should have too much for Murray, who had barely hit a ball in anger over the past 11 months.

Novak Djokovic is a 4/1 favourite to win Queen’s but that’s a curious price given his capricious recent form and the fact he has never triumphed at this event.

Like Murray he’s endured injury problems of his own and an elbow issue hampered him for much of last season. He is at least healthy again but has been a model of inconsistency in 2018 so we are happy to swerve him at such skinny odds.

Nadal’s decision to withdraw has certainly benefitted Marin Cilic, who as a result has been bumped up to top seed by the organisers and who should have few problems against Fernando Verdasco first up.

Cilic has one of the most destructive serves on the Tour and used it to brilliant effect in his run to the final here last year (where he eventually lost to Feliciano Lopez). He also reached the Wimbledon final last summer, where a combination of an inspired Federer and severe blisters did for him at SW19.

There should be no concerns about his fitness this week and he looks a big player at 7/1.

Milos Raonic and the aforementioned Kyrgios are the main dangers in his half of the draw but Cilic is a proper handful on this surface and can win again at Queen’s six years after landing his first title in London.

Over in Germany Roger Federer is an 11/10 poke to land an unprecedented ninth Gerry Weber Open title. The Swiss legend celebrated a return to the top of the world rankings by beating Raonic in Germany on Sunday and is a short price to land back-to-back titles in Deutschland.

Despite the fact he was playing his first tournament since March after electing to skip the entire clay season it was business as usual for Federer, who will be bullish about his prospects this week and should be motivated due to the fact if the 36-year-old wins in Halle, then he has the chance to win a 100th tour title at Wimbledon in July.

The main threat to Federer, certainly in the eyes of the bookies, is Alexander Zverev. The German with the bullet serve has reached the final in Halle in each of the last two seasons. Given his prodigious talent it only looks a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he lands a title here and it could be his year.

Granted he could certainly have had an easier first-round assignment than Borna Coric, and he’s in a tougher half of the draw to the Swiss legend, but he has talent to burn and has what it takes to make a third final on the bounce here.

If it was Federer waiting in said final the young German would definitely go off as an underdog, but he has a Rolls Royce temperament and you simply couldn’t rule him out. As the old saying goes talent is a gift, but character is a choice. And Zverev is our choice this week at 11/2.

Bilko’s Banker: Marin Cilic to win the Fever-Tree Championships at 7/1 (Bet Victor)
Best of the Rest: Alexander Zverev to win Gerry Weber Open at 11/2 (Betfred)

Deggsy Bilton