I’d expect a Murray/Federer semi final here and Fed has won five of the last six against the Scot, including the quite brilliant dismissal of Murray at Wimbledon recently.
There’s no rest for the top players in the men’s game at this time of year and hot on the heels of Sunday’s Coupe Rogers final in Montreal we head to America’s mid-west for more top class tennis.forwards.
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We had no luck last week in Canada when home hope Milos Raonic produced probably the two worst tie breaks of his career against Ivo Karlovic to go out in round one.
As is usually the case in Masters 1000 or Grand Slam events these days we ended up with another Novak Djokovic/Andy Murray final and if someone could wake me up when this tedious domination ends I’d be grateful.
Personally I’m looking forward to Winston-Salem next week for a decent outright punt, as the ATP 250s and 500s offer much more value than the 1000s that are almost always won by Djokovic, Federer, Murray or Nadal.
That said, Djokovic has never won this one and one of the reasons for that is the difficulty in returning and defending in Cincy, where it’s quick and quite skiddy on a Decoturf II outdoor hard court.
Normally it’s brutally hot here in August and that looks to be the case again this year, but the forecast suggests the players will be dodging thunderstorms for much of the week in Mason, Ohio.
Djokovic, seeded one, looks to have a pretty good draw, with Murray and Roger Federer in the bottom half, and two players who weren’t in good shape physically in Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in his half. Edit: Nishikori has withdrawn citing a hip injury.
There are a few big servers lurking in Novak’s immediate section, with Gilles Muller, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Karlovic, Jerzy Janowicz, John Isner and Tomas Berdych all in his half of the draw.
I would be on Isner here at a big price if I thought he had anything left in the tank, as conditions here do suit the big man, who made the final only two years ago.
But Isner’s bizarre scheduling that has seen him play 36 sets since Wimbledon has surely put paid to any hopes he has this year.
In contrast Federer has played zero sets since losing in the Wimbledon final to Djokovic and conditions really do suit the Swiss here, as his six titles here indicate.
Attacking tennis is often rewarded here in Cincy, where Fed has won in four of the last six years, and having chosen to play here in favour of Canada the Swiss has been handed a cosy draw in which to get back in the swing of things.
He gets the winner of Pablo Cuevas and Roberto Bautista-Agut first up and probably Jack Sock or Kevin Anderson after, and that looks perfect for Federer.
There’s a chance he might have to beat Nadal in the quarter finals, but despite the terrible head-to-head against the Spaniard I can’t see this 2015 version of Nadal causing Fed too many problems in these conditions.
That’s if the Spaniard makes it that far, with Raonic a likely early opponent, and the Canadian has already beaten Nadal this season – in Indian Wells.
Indeed, Raonic has an 8-3 record in Cincy and if he gets past the out of form Feli Lopez (Lopez is 5-12 in the main draw in Cincy) in another likely serving battle, the Canadian might look a decent price at 65.00.
Murray’s section looks good, with Marin Cilic (10-3 head-to-head to Murray), Grigor Dimitrov, Richard Gasquet and Nick Kyrgios the likely opposition.
Dimitrov looks well out of sorts, while Gasquet was sick last week and doesn’t do well here, with an 8-11 record and no wins since 2011 at an event where it’s usually too hot and quick for him.
Kyrgios is the wild card, but he doesn’t look capable of causing headlines for his tennis at the moment.
So, I’d expect a Murray/Federer semi final here and Fed has won five of the last six against the Scot, including the quite brilliant dismissal of Murray at Wimbledon recently and he has the edge for me in these conditions over best-of-three.
Fed also beat Murray here in Cincy a year ago and his freshness and record in Cincy make him the best option for me at [6.5].
Back Federer at [6.5]
The Masters 1000 tennis continues apace on Monday with the start of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and Sean Calvert selects the best outright bets in the men’s tournament.