Our tennis betting expert Derek Bilton is back with tips for this week’s Next Gen ATP Finals and he likes the look of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” So said the late, great Nelson Mandela and with this in mind the Next Gen ATP Finals should be worth keeping a close eye on in Milan this week, as eighth of the Tour’s top talents age 21 and under battle it out at the Fiera Milano Stadium.
With the upper echelons of the game still dominated by a “Big Four” who are all well into their thirties now, tennis is crying out for a couple of young upstarts to start laying legitimate claims on those Grand Slams. Young German Alexander Zverev looks the most likely, but he will not play in Milan after securing his Nitto ATP Finals qualification.
Hyeon Chung won the inaugural event last year, beating Andrey Rublev in a high quality final but is ineligible after turning 22 in May. It’s a tournament unlike any other in as much that all singles matches are the best of five sets, with each set the first to four games (not the usual six).
Last year was a real riot, and Rublev is back to try again in 2018. Sadly the talented Denis Shapovalov pulled out last week citing exhaustion. It’s hardly surprising either given he played eight events in seven different countries over the final eight weeks of the regular season. In Shapovalov’s absence, Hubert Hurkacz became a direct qualifier for the tournament but the stylish Pole is not fancied and you can get 9/1 about him winning – William Hill might be a shout for those odds.
Alex de Minaur, the the second-youngest player in the ATP’s top 100, will definitely have his backers. His rise has been pretty meteoric since turning pro in 2015, and he recently unseated Nick Kyrgios as Australia’s top tennis player. Age just 19, De Minaur’s game is reminiscent of an Aussie legend from another era in Leyton Hewitt. Both men play with freakish intensity and focus, and while it’s still mostly potential with De Minaur at this point, if he continues to apply himself he looks a can’t miss star of the future.
Frances Tiafoe is America’s big hope, and he makes his debut at the Next Gen Finals this week. Tiafoe became the youngest US champion on the Tour since Andy Roddick in 2002 when he won Delray Beach back in February, and he is a real athlete who plays with a swagger. Taylor Fritz, Jaume Munar and Liam Caruana (the betting rag at 50/1) are also involved, but the player who they will all need to get past this week is the incorrigible Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek won the first of what will surely be many ATP titles in Stockholm recently and looks a player to keep a real eye on over the next 12 months. For one so young his game looks totally polished and he has a terrific temperament too, as well as an uncanny ability to chase down seemingly lost causes. It’s remarkable to think that less than 18 months ago he was ranked 168th in the world and had yet to win a match on the main Tour (he was an alternate for this event last year but now goes off as favourite).
Tall, lithe and angular, Tsitsipas is a pretty flamboyant character with a wicked one-handed backhand and a damaging first serve. His breakthrough came at the Rogers Cup in Toronto when he upset Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Zverev and Kevin Anderson on his way to the final. That he lost the final on his twentieth birthday to Rafael Nadal was not the end of the world. That week proved he’s a major talent and if he’s motivated here he looks a genuine mortgage job at 9/4.
Bilko’s Banker: Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the Next Gen ATP Finals at 9/4 (888 Sport)
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