ATP Tennis Betting: Improving Cilic can defeat favourite Thiem in Montreal

August 8, 2019

Karen Khachanov provided a handy odds-against success for us on Wednesday, despite losing his fourth tie break from four played against Stan Wawrinka, while all of this week’s outrights are also there with chances in the last-16.

It looks like we could see a bit more rain on Thursday in Montreal, but the worst of it looks like it’ll be later in the day, so if the forecast is correct we should be OK up until about 19:00 local time (midnight UK).

We have Nikoloz Basilashvili, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut going for us on day four and all have matches they are quite capable of winning.

Basil defeated today’s opponent Alexander Zverev on clay in the German’s backyard in Hamburg a couple of weeks ago and as I’d hoped for at the start of the week it seems as if his confidence is coming back – and that means he’s dangerous.

He was very shaky against Dusan Lajovic and didn’t start well against Jan-Lennard Struff either, but he finished well and with Zverev still struggling and nowhere near the form that saw him win in Montreal two years ago.

Again, he only managed to win fewer than 50% of his second serve points against an average level of opponent in Cam Norrie and Zverev and in the last three months at main level on all surfaces, Zverev has won just 41.7% of his second serve points.

His Rogers Cup second serve points won total is 54.2%, so there’s one indicator that Zverev is well down on his previous level at this tournament.

You can never be sure with Basil, who served appallingly against Lajovic, but on his day this is a winnable match for the Georgian.

Roberto Bautista Agut will surely have a decent fitness advantage against Richard Gasquet, who finally looked like his old self after struggling with injury this season, in a mini-epic against Kei Nishikori on Wednesday.

It’s hard to be confident about Gasquet’s chances today though after three hours the previous day and versus an opponent that wears the opposition down for fun.

On paper RBA looks our best chance of progression today, but Gael Monfils has his chances as well as slight underdog against the man we backed last week at 66-1, Hubert Hurkacz.

It looks like I was a week too early with Hurkacz, who took down number four seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday, but as I said at the start of the week in my outright preview, I wasn’t convinced at all about the Greek’s fitness after last week in DC.

Talking of fitness, I said it was a gamble on the condition of Monfils at the start and he was cramping at the end of his match with Ilya Ivashka on Wednesday – hence the layers don’t fancy him much today.

That often doesn’t mean a lot with Monfils, who often looks down and out during matches only to jump back up and win half an hour later, so I don’t think I’d be backing Hurkacz at odds-on here based purely on Monfils being unfit.

Two players that I said could be possible underdog options on Wednesday both won: Felix Auger-Aliassime and Adrian Mannarino and both are underdogs with chances again on Thursday.

FAA did indeed take advantage of the awful fitness of Milos Raonic, whose back injury reared up again leading to a retirement, while Mannarino crushed Borna Coric two and one.

Mannarino is interesting, with the enigmatic Frenchman finding his form in Montreal again, as he did last time he played here in 2017, and he has a decent record on hard courts against Fabio Fognini, too.

He’s won two of the last three and was a set and a break up in the one he lost, so he has the tools to take down Fognini if the Italian isn’t on top form – he hit over 50 winners when he beat Mannarino in their most recent clash at the start of last season.

But, as I said yesterday, Fabio has a great record when priced up in this 1.60 to 1.79 price range on outdoor hard and after beating Tommy Paul he’s now 17-4 and he always fancies a crack at Rafael Nadal, who he’d play next.

So, my bet on Thursday is to take a chance on Marin Cilic, who looks to be returning to the sort of form that we know he’s capable of on North American hard courts.

After a difficult season to say the least Cilic showed against Daniil Medvedev last week in Washington DC that he’s not far off beating the better players around on this surface and we’ll see today just how far away he is.

He’s clearly improving and against Dominic Thiem he faces an opponent who is vulnerable away from his beloved clay and whose record at this stage of the season and as favourite on this surface isn’t the best.

Versus top-25 opposition Thiem has a losing record when priced up as favourite of 11-14 win/loss on all non-clay surfaces and 8-10 on outdoor hard alone.

The Austrian scraped past the challenge of Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday, taking the only two break chances he created in three sets and both opportunities handed him sets against the Canadian.

He hit 14 winners and 20 unforced errors versus Shapo and I feel he’ll need better against an opponent more suited to these conditions than Thiem is.

The pair haven’t clashed since way back at the start of 2016 when Thiem came from a set down to win, but again he only broke serve right at the end of the match and that’s usually Thiem’s problem on hard courts.

Thiem is 12-25 win/loss on outdoor hard at main level versus the current top-25 and he’s only broken serve 17% of the time (holding 79% of the time for a total of 96), while Cilic has a winning 39-38 record against the same group of players (hold/break total of 100).

Cilic’s weak form this season sees Thiem slight favourite today, but at these odds in these conditions I’ll risk Cilic’s recent improvement continuing.

Elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if Guido Pella gave Rafael Nadal a decent test today, with the Argentine in peak confidence these days and Nadal was hardly on top form against Dan Evans in a match he should have been a set down in.

We backed Daniil Medvedev outright last week and he lost in two breakers in the final and perhaps, like Hurkacz, we were a week too early with Medvedev, who should beat Cristian Garin and perhaps set up a rematch with Cilic.


Best Bet


1 point win Cilic to beat Thiem at 1.92