Tennis betting preview: Kei looks the guy to get with in Cincinnati

Kei Nishikori

With many a sub-plot going on in Cincinnati this week, including Andy Murray’s return, our man Derek Bilton is here to help you work through your tennis betting options.

The big story in Cincinnati is that Andy Murray will make a return to singles action this week – seven months after fearing he might have to retire.

Britain’s former World No. 1 broke down in tears at the Australian Open in January, believing the operation he faced later that month could end his career.

However the Scot is now pain free and gets a wildcard against  Richard Gasquet in the first round. The Frenchman is not a bad opponent for Murray. He’s beaten him right times and hasn’t lost to Gasquet since Rome in 2012.

If Murray gets through that – he’s a 6/4 shot to win the match – then French Open finalist Dominic Thiem would await.

Last year of course Djokovic romped home in Cincinnati to become the first player to win all nine ATP Masters 1000 crowns -thus complete the ‘Career Golden Masters’. Nice work if you can get it.

However the top seed has been handed a tough old draw if he is to defend his title (he’s a best price 6/4 to retain his title).

He will kick off against either American Sam Querrey or grantite-tough Frenchie Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Looking further ahead to round three and there’s a potential clash with 2013 runner-up John Isner. The misslie-serving Isner defeated Djokovic in the quarter-finals that year. And let’s not forget Querrey stunned Nole at Wimbledon a few years back as a huge betting underdog.

In-form duo Karen Khachanov or Nick Kyrgios are likely QF opponents too so the Djokovic price does not scream value.

If you backed Roger Federer every time he played this event, chances are you’d be in front financially. Cincinnati is Federer’s most successful ATP Masters 1000 tournament, with the now 38-year-old veteran having won seven titles in Ohio.

Roger Federer Halle press conference PA

The Swiss legend faces Matteo Berrettini or Juan Ignacio first up but his quarter has thrown up the fascinating possibility of a quarter-final against rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic is also in Federer’s half so it may pay to look for a winner in the bottom half of the draw.

One man who won’t be there is Rafael Nadal after he opted to withdraw immeduately after winning the Rogers Cup – leaving Kei Nishikori as the man who could benefit.

His quarter is wide open now and the world number five is due a win. He had lost in the quarter-finals at all three majors this season and has yet to reach a final but can be backed at 20/1 with bet365 to reach the championship match in Cincinnati.

There are still some stellar names in that section of the draw, but most have question marks surrounding them. Alexander Zverev for example has never won a match here and Dominic Thiem hates these kind of fast courts.

In terms of an outsider Daniil Medvedev has been mega-consistent on US hard courts in recent weeks abs if he’s not operating on fumes he could be worth a small punt at 25/1

He’s in the same quarter as Tsitsipas and it’s fair to say there is no love lost between the two.

The normally stoical 23-year-old Russian made it clear they won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts any time soon.

“We don’t have a relationship, if I can answer like this,” Medvedev said. “I’m not enemies with him, but we’re definitely not friends.”

Medvedev also owns a 4-0 head-to-Head record against Tsitsipas and would surly fancy his chances should they meet in Ohio.

Bilko’s Banker: Kei Nishikori to reach the final of the Western & Southern Open at 20/1 (bet365)
Best of the Rest: Daniil Medvedev to win the Western & Southern Open at 25/1 (888 Sport)

Derek Bilton

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