The Rogers Cup continues with the first round completing this evening. Back to preview the action, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"Opponent Auger-Aliassime has enjoyed a breakthrough year and isn’t far from reaching the top 100 for the first time in his career. However, most of his best work has been done on clay - rather unusually for a North American - although it’s worth noting that he was injured in Bastad last month and hasn’t particularly impressed since."
Paire sets up Nadal clash following Donaldson victory
Jared Donaldson disappointed on the opening day, with the American's downfall being an inability to save break points, being broken by Benoit Paire on four of the six chances for the Frenchman. Paire also was strong on his first serve, and moves into round two, where he faces top seed Rafa Nadal tomorrow night.
Cilic with history on his side against Coric
Most of the second round action is tomorrow, although one of our outright choices, Marin Cilic, opens his campaign late tonight against countryman Borna Coric. The more experienced Croat has been dominant over his younger compatriot so far in head to head meetings, winning all six, and given that Coric was ranked in the top 60 on all occasions, it's difficult to give this stat no credence.
Indeed, Coric has had issues breaking Cilic, doing so just 8.2% and winning a mere 27.1% of return points, so it would take a dramatic change of fortune for Coric to triumph. Cilic looks solid value at [1.68] to progress into round three.
Pouille can get the better of Auger-Aliassime
Another favourite who looks generously priced is Lucas Pouille, who faces the young Canadian wild-card, Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pouille is currently available at [1.58] to get the win, and this looks solid value against Auger-Aliassime, who turns 18 tomorrow.
While it's fair to suggest that Pouille hasn't been in the best touch of late, this is natural for a player whose ride to the top 20 has been 'variance-heavy'. Pouille's success has depended on winning a lot of key points and tight sets, and to some extent looks one of the few players on tour who can sustain such a dynamic. In addition, he plays his best on quicker surfaces, particularly on indoor hard, and while conditions in Toronto here aren't the quickest, they certainly aren't on the slow side of average.
Opponent Auger-Aliassime has enjoyed a breakthrough year and isn't far from reaching the top 100 for the first time in his career. However, most of his best work has been done on clay - rather unusually for a North American - although it's worth noting that he was injured in Bastad last month and hasn't particularly impressed since.
Particularly on hard courts, Auger-Aliassime has a lot of work to do to reach top 100 level, and with this in mind, Pouille is our recommendation this evening.
Krajinovic and Haase with chances as underdogs
Other matches where my model indicated slight value includes the heavy underdogs Filip Krajinovic and Robin Haase, against Karen Khachanov and Kei Nishikori, respectively, as well as Hyeon Chung, who faces Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic. If Chung is fit, odds of [5.70] about the Korean look a little insulting given Djokovic isn't nearly at his peak level, despite that Wimbledon title.
Difficult to call fitness of Wawrinka and Kyrgios
We also have a 'question mark' match where Stan Wawrinka takes on Nick Kyrgios, with both players fitness being extremely debatable. The Australian, Kyrgios, looks some value at [1.56] based on bare numbers, but it would be a brave bettor to get involved with this prior to the match start given the recent track records of either player.
Rare hard court excursion for Cecchinato
Finally, it will be interesting to see if Grigor Dimitrov can return to somewhere near his standard level against Fernando Verdasco, and the Bulgarian looks accurately priced at [1.76] to make round three, while subjectively, I expected to find value on Frances Tiafoe at [1.46] against the out and out clay-courter, Marco Cecchinato.
The Italian has got his (already inflated) ranking based on clay court success and barely ever makes the effort to play away from his favoured surface, but based on the limited data I have on him away from clay, the price doesn't look hugely out of line.
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