ATP Cincinnati Open Friday Picks, Preview: Will Pouille Test Djokovic?
Jean-Yves Ahern, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Lucas Pouille
- Sean Zerillo previews Friday's Quaterfinal action at the Cincinnati Masters and suggests a few bets that have value, including analysis of Daniil Medvedev vs. Andrey Rublev (7 p.m. ET) and Novak Djokovic vs. Lucas Pouille (9 p.m. ET)
Friday features all four men’s quarterfinals matches at the Cincinnati Masters, otherwise known a the Western and Southern Open, the last major tournament for top players before the US Open begins on August 26.
Roger Federer will not be in action today, as we saw him ousted by 21-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev on Thursday.
As a result, we lost a potential Saturday rematch between Federer and Novak Djokovic following their epic Wimbledon final.
Djokovic remains in the draw and is only a -225 favorite in the futures market to win his next three matches and take home this Masters title.
The Serbian is defending 1000 points at this tournament, having won the 2018 edition over Federer in straight sets. Will Friday’s match bring him one step closer to a repeat?
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ATP Cincinnati Quarterfinal Betting Preview
Roberto Bautista Agut (-455) vs. Richard Gasquet | O/U: 22
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Where: Center Court
- H2H: Bautista Agut leads 4-1
This pair squared off eight days ago at the Rogers Cup, with Bautista Agut (“RBA”) prevailing 7-5, 7-5.
The Spaniard is in the midst of a career year, having made the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the Semi-Finals at Wimbledon, achieving his highest career ranking in the process.
Almost twice a match, RBA ends up coming in on a ball and making a ridiculous angle like this look routine:
RBA delivering a knockout blow! 👊
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) August 15, 2019
After slogging through much of this year following groin hernia surgery in January, Richard Gasquet finally looks fully healthy and is back to playing his best tennis.
Before losing to RBA in the Rogers Cup he upset Kei Nishikori, and he has yet to drop a set in Cincinnati; scoring convincing wins over Los Cabos open winner Diego Schwartzman and a returning Andy Murray.
The history between these two isn’t pretty, as Gasquet has only won one set (in 2005) in their five matchups. Gasquet also faced 12 break points in their meeting last week, but was also a service hold away from reaching a tiebreak in either set.
While I don’t expect him to win the match, I do think that the Frenchman can win a set today. And even if he doesn’t, a 7-6, 6-4 result still gets us to the over on games – which is how I’m going to play this match.
David Goffin (-200) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka | O/U: 22.5
- Time: 2:15 p.m. ET
- Where: Grandstand
- H2H: Tied 1-1
Another pair of players who have met recently, with Nishioka eliminating Goffin in three sets in Washington D.C. in the Belgian’s first match since losing to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.
Goffin seemed to be lacking in confidence after winning just six games against the eventual Wimbledon champion, and Nishioka (who had been playing World Team Tennis on hard courts) took advantage.
He fought his way through qualifiers in Cincinnati before taking down his countryman Kei Nishikori (who was struggling with a breathing issue) in the most emotional victory of his career:
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) August 14, 2019
Nishioka regularly hit winners like that against Goffin in their last matchup and will need to do so again to come out ahead today.
Many (myself included) expected Nishioka to have a letdown performance following the big victory over Nishikori, but he didn’t face a single break point against Atlanta Open champion Alex de Minaur.
Goffin and Nishioka broke each other’s serve 10 times in Washington — and I’m expecting a similar battle here with long rallies and tight winners from the baseline.
Rather than playing the over on the game spread, I took a shot on over 2.5 sets at a nice plus-money price.
Daniil Medvedev (-278) vs. Andrey Rublev | O/U: 22
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- Where: Grandstand
- H2H: Medvedev leads 1-0 (challenger)
You should immediately note that Rublev is in a terrible spot here – as lesser ranked players coming off of victories against top 10 opponents generally struggle to focus in their next matchup against another big opponent.
There is certainly a familiarity between these two countrymen and their lone meeting, which took place on the challenger circuit in 2016, can likely be discounted.
I am a huge fan of Medvedev and have been regularly backing him in recent weeks, but I have also been waiting for his legs to give in – as today will be his 14th match since July 30; having made back-to-back finals in Washington and Montreal.
Medvedev also complained of fatigue following his Wednesday victory over Benoit Paire – but he came out yesterday and dismantled a rising Jan-Lennard Stuff; breaking the German’s serve four times.
Medvedev is eminently frustrating for his opponents on the defensive end. Even if you manage to break his serve, he seems to fight back and break yours twice within the next three games.
On paper, this is a statistical mismatch.
Medvedev is also more than capable of winning a decider 6-1 or 6-2, which is why I like to back him on the game spread; and will again today.
Novak Djokovic (-2000) vs. Lucas Pouille | O/U: 20
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Where: Center Court
- H2H: Djokovic leads 1-0
These two played in the Semi-Final of the 2019 Australian Open, following a breakthrough performance by Pouille, but the Frenchman only won four games against Djokovic and put up a bagel in the opening set.
Djokovic has been on cruise control through his first two matches in Cincinnati, facing a combined nine break points (and saving eight) against Sam Querrey and Pablo Carreno Busta.
He hasn’t looked unbeatable by any stretch but has also easily dispatched of two opponents who both own better hard court stats than Lucas Pouille.
Pouille has only faced two break points in his prior two matchups against Karen Khachanov and Dennis Shapovalov, so he comes into this match in great form, but similar to Rublev he is coming off of a big win against a Top 10 Player and this is a natural letdown spot.
In lieu of playing Djokovic on the game spread (-5), I opted for under 20 games, as a 6-4, 6-3 victory would push on the game spread but win on the total; and I see that result as the most likely outcome.
Bets (So Far) for August 16
Odds, especially live odds, swing quicker in tennis than in any other sport, so stay tuned on Twitter for my entire Tennis betting card for Friday, August 16.
- Over 22 Games (-108), Bautista Agut / Gasquet
- Over 2.5 Sets (+155), Goffin / Nishioka
- Medvedev, -3.5 Games (-119)
- Under 20 Games (-101), Djokovic / Pouille