Tennis betting preview: Fearless Felix Auger-Aliassime looks a fab China Open pick at 22/1

Felix Auger-Aliassime celebrates PA

After just missing out on a 50/1 winner last week, Derek Bilton is back with his tennis betting preview for the ATP events in Beijing and Tokyo.

So near yet so far! The column almost took down a 50/1 winner last time out as Adrian Mannarino made the final of the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships. Alas he blew a 4-2 lead in the first set tie-break before eventually losing a close one to Alex de Minaur 7-6, 6-4.

The ATP Tour rolls on to Beijing and Tokyo, with two tasty looking ATP 500 events this week. In recent years at the China Open it has usually paid to keep the top seed onside, with the No. 1 seed winning the title here in six of the last seven years.

That’s good news for Dominic Thiem, who is seeded one this week. However his draw is not the best, with crafty veteran Richard Gasquet (who has a winning head-to-head record against the Austrian) up first. After that would be a possible shootout with British No. 1 Kyle Edmund and former World No. 1 Andy Murray is also in Thiem’s quarter.
Dominic Thiem

Murray won here in 2016 but for obvious reasons is not considered among the favourites three years on. The Scot though recorded his first ATP level singles win since January last week. A vintage display that one by ‘Muzza’ as he showed plenty of defiance, defence, scurrying, fist-pumping and cojones.

The way he then hung in against Aussie marathon man Alex De Minaur after two hours in 28 degree heat and humidity was also extraordinary, despite him losing that match.

Remember too that no singles player has ever made a comeback after the hip surgery Andy Murray has had. Ever. If he goes on to win another tournament the fallout is liable to break the internet and if you fancy him this week (we don’t incidentally) then he’s up there at 25/1 in the betting.

This actually looks wide open. Stefanos Tsitsipas is at the head of the betting but retired last week against Mannarino with the pair locked at 1-1 in sets with breathing difficulties. To be fair to him the smog meant the air in Zhuhai was like soup, but as we wrote at the time it probably wasn’t the best decision to rush into the Asian Swing so soon after the Laver Cup.
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Karen Khachanov is also among the betting favourites but he’s not really done anything since they fabulous run at Roland Garros in early summer. The Russian has looked wildly inconsistent in recent weeks and while he ticks plenty of boxes in terms of his power game, we would be wanting a fair bit more than the current 8/1 odds available before getting involved.

Nikoloz Basilashvili was a shock winner here in 2018 and he’s 25/1 to retain, but we are going to put our faith in youth this week and go with Felix Auger-Aliassime. He’s in the bottom half of the draw and would have to beat Alexander Zverev in R2, but his huge serve and flat hitting could be ideal in Beijing.

He’s young enough to cope with the testing conditions too and is due a win sometime soon after reaching three ATP finals already this year. Auger-Aliassime should also be motivated as he’s still in with a huge chance of reaching a first Next Gen ATP Tour finals berth. He’s a top price 22/1 with bet365 and if he can see off Zverev watch those odds tumble down dramatically.
Felix Auger-Aliassime: Likened to Rafael Nadal

The Ariake Colosseum is the venue for the Japan Open and historically it’s a very fast surface there, with Juan Martin Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios among the list of previous champions. The huge-serving but physically vulnerable Milos Raonic is a three-times finalist here too, underlining the fact that players with a thunderous serve and heavy groundies tend to dominate on this track.

Daniil Medvedev was something of an unknown last year, winning the event as a qualifier but it’s fair to say he’s a lot more high profile these days after his quite ridiculous streak of ATP final appearances. He’s not defending his crown this year, but Novak Djokovic does play and the Serb is 4/5 for the win. It’s a somewhat curious decision from Djokovic to make his debut in Tokyo this season, having landed a record six China Open titles. He’s head and shoulders the best player in the field but at 4/5 he’s plenty short given he was last seen retiring against Stan Wawrinka in New York.

Instead let’s go with 14/1 chance David Goffin, who took down his biggest career title here two years ago. Goffin has also made a final in Japan (losing to Kyrgios) so this is a venue he knows well and he’s the most likely to step in if Djokovic falls early. It’s a big ‘if’ of course. Djokovic is still the World No. 1 and can be unplayable on this surface. But it would take a brave punter to steam in at 4/5 with question marks still surrounding his fitness.

Bilko’s Banker: Felix Auger-Aliassime to win the China Open at 22/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest: David Goffin to win the Rakuten Open Tennis Championships at 14/1 (Paddy Power)

Derek Bilton

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