In this tennis betting preview for the ATP Cincinnati Western & Southern Open, we scrutinize the odds before sharing our top three favorite picks.
The ATP Tour descends on Cincinnati for the second of the back-to-back Masters 1000s in the lead up to the US Open. Outright win odds are led by the usual suspects despite last week’s surprise champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. So will the favourites come through this week or will another surprise champion emerge instead?
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Toronto Takeaways
Last week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto served up a surprise, big-price champion Jo Wilfried Tsonga, matched at +5000 to win outright at the start of the tournament. The big-serving Frenchman emerged out of a tough top half of the draw, beating Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer en route to the title, only his second career ATP Masters 1000 title.
Tsonga has long held the potential to become a major champion. Since reaching the 2008 Australian Open final (l. to Djokovic) and winning the BNP Paribas Open (his maiden ATP Masters 1000) later the same year, many tennis experts predicted great things for the charismatic Frenchman. Instead he’s been a bit of a letdown these past six years, largely held back by the burden of expectation and his inability to deal with the pressure of being a top player. As well, occasional injuries, periods when he seemed to lack focus and commitment, and a revolving door on the coaching front, amongst other contributing factors, conspired against him.
It’s highly unlikely Tsonga would win back-to-back Masters 1000s when it took him six years to win as many. Then again he’s never had the benefit of the sort of confidence a player gains by beating three top players in succession, nor enjoyed the sort of momentum ahead of a tournament he’s experiencing now. It’s not an easy draw he’s in by any stretch of the imagination; once again, he’s in Djokovic’s quarter and it’s hard to believe Djokovic would be so accommodating again.
Top favourite Novak Djokovic (+120 to win outright) for the second week running was a huge disappointment in Toronto. He looked woeful from the start and in the Tsonga clash he clearly wasn’t up to his lofty standards. He did have a busy July in his defence: winning Wimbledon, getting married and preparing for the imminent arrival of his offspring.
Djokovic should be in better form going into Cincy now that he’s had a chance to work off any rust. Overcoming such letdowns is par for the course for a player of his ilk. Overcoming Cincinnati however is another matter entirely. The tournament holds no joy for the Serbian starlet. Of the 19 Masters 1000s he’s picked up over his career, he’s yet to win one in Cincy. In fact, Cincy is the only Masters 1000 title he’s yet to win in order to complete the Career Golden Masters. That’s incentive. But does that mean he’s the best tennis pick to win outright at +120 tennis betting odds?
Stanislas Wawrinka continued to blow hot and cold as he’s done all season long in Toronto, which sends him into Cincy as an iffy tennis bet at +1400 to win outright. He’s in the same half of the draw as both Djokovic and in-form Tsonga, along with an in-form, rising star Grigor Dimitrov who reached the semis in Toronto (l. to Tsonga). Undoubtedly, he’s got the talent and quality to win big titles, proving so by winning the Australian Open earlier this year and his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo. But when he’s clearly struggling with the burden of expectation (admitted as much), he strikes a less than convincing pose in tennis betting futures.
Andy Murray (+700 to win outright) showed positive signs until the Tsonga clash in which he was thoroughly outplayed. Still those positive signs bode well for the No.1 Brit as he prepares for a successful campaign in Cincy, an event he’s won twice in his career. Falling into the fourth quarter, which puts him on course for a clash with Roger Federer in the quarters, he appears to have a straightforward early few rounds. Only Kevin Anderson (+10000) or John Isner (+3300) loom dangerously in his imminent path,
Roger Federer comes into Cincinnati in top form, the best form of all the top five players in the game. Federer, matched at +400 to win outright (second favourite after Djokovic), has won this event five times in his career. Given current form and past success at this venue, landing a sixth title in Cincinnati this week would be fitting validation for the Swiss maestro.
Milos Raonic crashed out of the Rogers Cup in the quarterfinals, losing to Feliciano Lopez in a three-set marathon. The No.1 Canadian had high hopes for his home event, along with high hopes for the upcoming US Open, a coveted title he openly admitted having designs on this season. So confident was he after winning the title in Washington (first ever ATP 500 win) that he’d closed the gap on the so-called “Big Four” in the game, it’s almost ironic that it was a seasoned veteran to take him down a peg or two in Toronto. One wonders whether that tennis lesson will send him into Cincy with slightly more realistic expectations, if not even a bit jaded.
That being said Raonic does have a good section of the draw. The third quarter isn’t stacked with reliable seeds; he’s drawn Tomas Berdych, Ernests Gulbis and Fabio Fognini (seeded players that are known to blow hot and cold throughout the season), while interspersed in between are various veterans such as American wild card Robby Ginepri, Croatian Ivan Dodig, and former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt.
Tennis Betting Verdict
The Top Three Faves
It’s quite likely that most tennis bettors will gravitate towards Novak Djokovic on their tennis picks this week. He’s the sort of player that simply doesn’t rest on his laurels after a letdown. He’ll be extremely disappointed by his run in Toronto and motivated by the pursuit of the Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati. Roger Federer (+400 to win outright) is enjoying an excellent run of form with back-to-back runner-up finishes at Wimbledon and Rogers Cup, and he’s enjoyed a lot of success in Cincinnati over his career – the conditions and surface suit him well. He has played a lot of tennis though, which could work against him. Andy Murray has a lot to prove after waffling against Tsonga in Toronto. He’s yet to reach the final of a tournament, let alone win a title since his comeback from injury. This is his best chance to prove he’s a viable contender for the US Open at the end of the month. Tennis bettors willing to forgive him for disappointing in Toronto might well take a chance on their tennis picks this week by backing Murray at his attractive +700 price tag to win outright.
Shortlist of Outside Bets
Toronto delivered many upsets and surprises, which is partly down to the depth of the men’s field. For many top players, the Rogers Cup represents the first tournament back from a three-week summer break. Rust and lack of match play is bound to factor and under such conditions upsets thrive. Therefore, tennis bettors have to take that into consideration before piling onto choice big-priced outsiders.
Still, if you are looking for some good outside tennis picks begin with Grigor Dimitrov (+1600), who is a player that is on the rise and, most importantly, has the sort of a variety in his game to make him a legitimate contender. Stanislas Wawrinka could blow hot this week after blowing cold last week so one can’t ignore his appeal at +1400 to win outright. What’s more, Tsonga at +1800 could deliver. Only he can prove whether the win in Toronto is the long-awaited breakthrough that sees him finally fulfil the promise he’s long held or just a one-off.
We’re scratching Raonic because he still has a way to go towards closing the so-called gap on the top players, as well Berdych and Gasquet (both injury concerns) off our shortlist. We’re also avoiding most players that could be spent from their efforts in Toronto, looking instead towards some of those that departed Toronto early to capitalise in Cincy, such as Ernests Gulbis (+4000) and John Isner (+5000), amongst several others, to do some damage.
Recommended Tennis Picks
Murray or Djokovic to win outright, or an each way bet on the pair making it to the final. One or both of Federer and Wawrinka provide a great alternative to the aforementioned tennis pick, while the quintessential long shot picks are Tsonga to repeat (easier said than done) and Grigor Dimitrov to mastermind the breakthrough (could be too soon).