Rogers Cup Final: Hard to oppose heavy favourite Nadal

Spanish Tennis Player Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal is a heavy favourite to win the Rogers Cup tonight...
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It's the Rogers Cup final in Toronto where Stefanos Tsitsipas is looking to win his first Masters event. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, examines whether Tsitsipas has a chance...

"It's worth mentioning that Nadal is 21-1 against opponents ranked 21-50 in the last 12 months and this historical dominance of the lower-ranked players on tour shows the difficulty of the task awaiting Tsitsipas in his first Masters 1000 final."

Tsitsipas again wins from match point down

Having two recommendations lose when winning more points in the match was harsh enough, but Kevin Anderson earned us the hat-trick last night in Canada as he won 51% of points but lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas. To further our woes, he became the second to lose from match-point up as well.

As always, though, we have to trust the process, and Tsitsipas' second consecutive victory when saving match point gives him the chance of his first Masters 1000 level title tonight, with his match against Rafa Nadal scheduled to start at 21:00 UK time this evening.

Rafa in the final despite not being close to his best

In truth, the King of Clay has hardly been firing on all cylinders this week and again failed to cover the main game handicap lines against Karen Khachanov last night, although it's fair to suggest an inability to convert break points cost the Spaniard in that respect.

However, despite making the final here, the world number one hasn't produced his best tennis, and hasn't dominated opponents in his customary manner. His statistics this week make telling reading - he's won 63.9% of points on serve and 41.6% on return (105.5% combined) and these don't even represent close to elite level and bettors should guard against this being a formality for Rafa on this basis.

Tsitsipas' Rogers Cup data also not hugely impressive

Having said this, Tsitsipas' data this week isn't exactly impressive for a finalist either, winning a strong 71.5% of points on serve but a dire 31.9% on return (103.4% combined) and it is evident that - if we didn't know this already - he's won a lot of tight sets and matches in the last seven days. The Greek youngster has also saved 4.7% more break points than service points won here in Canada (the average ATP player saves 2.8% FEWER) so it's evident that variance has been on Tsitsipas' side at the 2018 Rogers Cup.

Nadal dominating players ranked outside the top 20

So - to the prices. The exchange currently prices Rafa as a [1.25] favourite to lift the title, and my model was largely in agreement. Despite this, it's worth mentioning that Nadal is 21-1 against opponents ranked 21-50 in the last 12 months (his defeat was against 24th ranked Nick Kyrgios - a player capable of a much higher level on his day) and this historical dominance of the lower-ranked players on tour shows the difficulty of the task awaiting Tsitsipas in his first Masters 1000 final.

While this stat makes it sound like all Rafa needs to do is turn up on time to win, it's also relevant to point out that Tsitsipas has won three of his four career matches against top ten opponents, which if this continues in the future, should illustrate a high peak level which will serve him well as he looks to break into the upper echelons of the ATP Tour.

For today though, I'd suggest this is a match best watched, or entering markets in-play - it's difficult to favour either player at market prices. I'll be back tomorrow with an outright preview of the upcoming Cincinnati Masters event (although there are two matches tonight, I would like to see the outcome of the Toronto final prior to committing to outrights) as well as previewing Monday's matches too.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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