Miami Open Day Four Tips: Cilic can get much needed victory over Garin

Croatian Tennis Player Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic looks big for his match against Christian Garin...

Second round action at the Miami Masters continues on Saturday with a further 16 second round matches. Returning to discuss the day ahead is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"Garin's hard court numbers (95% combined service/return points won in the last 18 months) aren't impressive. This could be just the downgrade in opposition which Cilic needs to get that win under his belt."

Ruusuvuori shocks Zverev on day three

There were several surprise results on day three, with defeats for the likes of David Goffin, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev, who was beaten in three sets by the young prospect Emil Ruusuvuori. I mentioned that this match-up would be a good test to see where Ruusuvuori was at, and after losing the first set 6-1, the Finn lost just four games for the rest of the match to overcome the third seed in three sets - he also created 18 break point chances throughout the match.

He now has the opportunity to reach the latter stages, with a winnable match as favourite against Mikael Ymer next up in round three tomorrow, and quarter two not looking particularly stacked either.

Zverev's defeat came as a heavy favourite at around the 1.201/5 mark, and there are plenty of players around this price or shorter on day four on what looks - in theory at least - a rather uncompetitive card, particularly as I broadly agree with the heavy favourite status of most of these short-priced favourites.

Sonego potentially over-rated for Fratangelo clash

There are a few matches which are priced closer to even money apiece, and it's these which I will focus more attention on in this preview. One fascinating match at the top of the schedule, starting at 1500 UK time, is Bjorn Fratangelo against Lorenzo Sonego, and it's the seeded Sonego who starts as the 1.645/8 favourite.

Sonego is ranked 37 and seeded 24 here, despite winning just 50% of his matches in the last year. Arguably he's a beneficiary of the longer ranking period which has been introduced following the tour pausing from March-July last year, and on that side note, this ranking system chance appears to benefit players previously ranked well but in mediocre form - such as Benoit Paire - and makes it slightly tougher for young players playing at a high level to fly up the rankings.

This year, Sonego is 4-6 with three wins of his four coming as a favourite - two against Challenger players. He's really struggled on hard court in the last couple of years, winning fewer than 30% of his main tour matches and running at around 97% combined service/return points won on the surface. That win percentage isn't quite aligned with that combined figure - I'd expect it to be slightly higher - but I think it's fair to draw the conclusion from this that Sonego isn't an above-average hard courter at this level.

Opponent Fratangelo mainly plies his trade on the Challenger Tour but is one of the better players at that level. He had easy wins over Dmitry Popko and Marc-Andrea Huesler in qualifiers, and a rusty Fernando Verdasco in round one of the main draw, coming off the back of winning the Cleveland Challenger event the week previously. It wouldn't surprise me if Sonego is a beaten favourite today.

Cilic can get the better of Garin

I'm pretty reluctant to side with the current version of Marin Cilic but the Croatian does look big at 1.9620/21 for his match with Christian Garin, who is more of a clay-courter.

Cilic hasn't done well this year but it's worth noting that in his loss to Sebastian Korda, he dramatically underperformed on break points and had six more in a straight set defeat.

Garin won a title last time out, on clay in his home event in Santiago, but was the pre-tournament favourite and was priced no bigger than 1.608/13 in any of his matches in what was a fairly weak field. There's a big difference between then and today, and Garin's hard court numbers (95% combined service/return points won in the last 18 months) aren't impressive. This could be just the downgrade in opposition which Cilic needs to get that win under his belt.

Kokkinakis comeback with potential to continue

Among the other matches, I'm interested to see how Thanasi Kokkinakis fares against Marton Fucsovics. Kokkinakis is making another return this year after long-term injury and has qualified here without much drama. He also gave Stefanos Tsitsipas a real scare in round two of the Australian Open, going five sets with the fifth seed. It wouldn't surprise me if Kokkinakis picked up an underdog win at the current 2.427/5.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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