The Rogers Cup gets underway this weekend, and our man Deggsy is here to help you bash the bookies with clever betting.
Three-time champion Rafael Nadal will feel he will probably never get a better opportunity to land another Rogers Cup, given the recent withdrawals of Roger Federer and Andy Murray, but the top seed is no banker for glory in Toronto this week.
The legendary Spaniard has enjoyed another fine season on clay, but it’s been a different story on hard courts and he’s only just returned to training in Mallorca after taking time off to go sailing.
If Rafa – the 15/4 betting favourite – is not one hundred per cent focused he could easily be sunk this week and he’s got a tough draw, with three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka or mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios among potential third round opponents.
Nadal, remember, has not hit a ball in anger since that epic semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, so could be one to swerve.
Djokovic is another player the bookies are keen to keep inside, and it’s easy to see why given he’s won four Rogers Cup titles since taking down his first title back in 2007.
After a turbulent few months on the ATP Tour Nole has re-established himself as one of the best in the world and his recent Wimbledon win means he is playing with a swagger again.
He’s been given an intriguing first round draw though, again rising star Hyeon Chung who famously beat Djokovic in straight sets at the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this season.
Djokovic will go off as a big betting favourite but don’t sleep on Chung, who will be motivated to crack the world’s top 20 between now and the end of the season.
FIRST ROUND MATCHES TO 👀:
— Rogers Cup (@rogerscup) August 3, 2018
Nadal and Djokovic will be joined in Toronto by defending champion and second seed Zverev, who receives a bye into the second round.
The brilliant young German, who has been red hot in 2018, will play David Ferrer or a qualifier in round two. Zverev looks a frightening prospect and has targeted toppling Federer and Nadal at the top of the works rankings by the end of the year.
Whether he can pull that off is one thing but he’s certainly got the game and the confidence to defend his title here, and odds of 10/1 (he is as short as 5/1 in places) look too big.
Zverev is in the same quarter as Djokovic but won’t be fazed. He’s playing really consistent, impressive power tennis right now and the bookies are taking a real chance by chalking him up at double figure prices.
Juan Martin Del Potro will have his backers but after losing to Fabio Fognini at the Los Cabos Open final at the weekend, it’s clear the big Argentine is struggling to put it together on any kind of consistent basis.
So too Kyrgios, who is talented enough on hard to beat anyone, but after hitting the heights one day can look like a bag of rags the next and that’s why he’s as big as 28/1 to win in Canada.
In the other half of the draw Marin Cilic looks over-priced at 16/1. Much will depend on how Nadal goes early doors but if the Pearl of Manacor crashes out early things open right up for Cilic, who is a real handful on the type of fast tracks seen in Toronto.
Bilko’s Banker: Alexander Zverev to win the Rogers Cup at 10/1 (888 Sport)
Best of the Rest: Marin Cilic to win the Rogers Cup at 16/1 (Paddy Power)
Greg Rusedski says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Novak Djokovic wins all four Grand Slams again.
In Tennis Today, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are “urged to break their silence”.
Simona Halep will miss the season-ending WTA Finals.
Vasek Pospisil beat Milos Raonic at the European Open.
Eugenie Bouchard secured a stunning win over Carla Suarez Navarro in Luxembourg.
Marco Cecchinato fell at the first hurdle at the Kremlin Cup.
Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens exit.
Rafael Nadal committed to Davis Cup.
Johnny Nic on why Jamie Murray deserves more praise.
In Tennis Today, Andy Murray surprises four tennis fans.