The Cincinnati Masters moves to the quarter-final stage, and with the market thinking that there are four one-sided matches on the schedule, Dan Weston looks to see if there is any upset potential...
"On hard court data this year, Ruud actually has won almost 3% more points on serve but Zverev has won 6% more on return, and of course, Zverev deserves to be favourite - just not this short."
Four heavy favourites again for today's quarter-finals
Yesterday's four heavy pre-match favourites all made it into the quarter-finals, and they retain that status today with all four expected to progress by the market. Stefanos Tsitsipas, at a current 1.402/5, is the biggest-priced favourite today, with Andrey Rublev 1.211/5 the shortest, and while all four are individually expected to win, it's worth noting that market prices imply that all four winning as an accumulated quartet is less likely to happen than it is to actually happen.
Rublev should end Paire's journey in Cincinnati
In the opener, Rublev faces Benoit Paire, and it's not hugely surprising to see the Russian as the shortest-priced favourite against the ultra-inconsistent Frenchman, who has had little in the way of success in the last year. In fact, he probably wouldn't have earned direct entry to this tournament if the rankings were based on a traditional 12-month rolling ranking, and Paire has been a major beneficiary of the longer ranking period brought in following the tour pausing last March.
Paire got the better of John Isner in three sets - they split a tiebreak each in the match also - to earn his third consecutive underdog victory of the week, having defeated Denis Shapovalov and Miomir Kecmanovic, also in three sets. Rublev has played four fewer sets to get to this stage, and given the data discrepancy between the duo, it would be a real surprise if he didn't make the semi-finals.
Medvedev a justified heavy favourite over Carreno-Busta
Following this, another Russian - Daniil Medvedev - is a strong favourite at 1.271/4 to get the better of Pablo Carreno-Busta, and again, there looks to be a marked ability differential between the two players, based on hard court data. On hard court in the last 12 months, Medvedev holds around 8% more and breaks around 6% more, so the market line looks pretty justified.
Auger-Aliassime capable of testing Tsitsipas
For those looking at more surprise results, Felix Auger-Aliassime isn't without a chance at 3.45 for his clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, although the line is broadly similar to the starting prices when they last met on hard court in Acapulco in March. That match went to three sets, and a similar tight match looks fairly likely here with both players being strong servers. Auger-Aliassime will probably need to be pretty clinical on break point chances in order to cause an upset, but it's certainly possible.
Ruud's breakthrough year could continue against Zverev
Finally, a surprise could also be on the cards with Alexander Zverev looking a touch short at 1.3030/100 for his meeting with Casper Ruud, who has had a fantastic year so far. The Norwegian is at a career-best 12 in the rankings, and is 8th in the Race to Turin (the 2021 rankings) - just two places below Zverev.
While a large chunk of Ruud's ranking points have been derived from clay, where he won three titles in events starting in July, and has lost just one of his last 16 - in the quarter-finals of Toronto last week against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Ruud has got past Reilly Opelka and Diego Schwartzman this week and given his run of form, looks a little undervalued by the market here.
On hard court data this year, Ruud actually has won almost 3% more points on serve but Zverev has won 6% more on return, and of course, Zverev deserves to be favourite - just not this short. General market pricing has Ruud at around 2.186/5 with a 3.5 game head start, and in the run-up to the match, I'm anticipating around the 2.206/5 mark will be available on the Exchange for this game handicap line.
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