ATP Tour: Paris Masters Selected Quarter-Finals Preview

Tennis Player hits ball

Damien Kayat previews his two picks from the Quarter-Finals of the 2018 Paris Masters.


Marin Cilic 17/4 | Novak Djokovic 1/7
Novak Djokovic will be confirmed as the world Number One following Rafa Nadal’s withdrawal from this event. It marks one of the most amazing returns to premium form that you could have envisaged. After losing in the Aussie Open fourth round, Djokovic only returned to tennis with the ‘Sunshine Double’. That ended in disastrous back-to-back opening round defeats in a particularly underwhelming comeback. But since Wimbledon Djokovic has been imperious. He picked up back-to-back Grand Slams while claiming Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai. Djokovic has looked imperious in recent weeks, arguably playing some of his best ever tennis. He has dispatched of Sousa and Dzumhur is emphatic style but will know that Cilic represents an entirely different proposition altogether.

Marin Cilic’s season has never quite recovered after that stirring and controversial Aussie Open Final defeat to Roger Federer. Most onlookers bemoan the closing of the roof and believe that it largely contributed to Cilic’s downfall. His season went into a fairly long ebb until a solid quarter-final showing in Rome. That was followed by yet another heart-breaking Grand Slam loss at Roland Garros, where Del Potro outmuscled him in the quarter-finals. The victory in Queens seemed ominous leading into his beloved Wimbledon, but the Croat underwhelmed with a poor second round showing at SW19. A semi-final showing at Cincinnati was followed by yet more Grand Slam calamity. A hard-fought five-set loss to Kei Nishikori- whom he beat at Flushing Meadows to claim his solitary Grand Slam title- really summed up his season thus far. He has endured a poor run of form post-US Open and will be keen to keep his form solid ahead of the ATP Finals.

Dating back to 2008, Djokovic has an amazing 15-2 head-to-head record against Croat Marin Cilic. While that may seem to make this a cut-and-dry call, closer examination offers some solace to Cilic admirers. Cilic has won two of their last three matches, including a win in this year’s Queen’s Final. The other win was a victory in this very tournament in 2016. So I think there is plenty of value in Cilic at 17/4, despite Djokovic being the overwhelming favourite. 

Kei Nishikori 39/20 | Roger Federer 7/20
Roger Federer waltzed into this semi-final on the back of a Raonic withdrawal. That would have delighted the Swiss star after his battling triumph in Basel last week. Federer has had another impressive season, clearly highlighted by that Aussie Open triumph. Federer has been coy in the press, alluding to a possible impending retirement and speaking about the magical 100 title mark. Federer has claimed three further titles this season whilst suffering some fairly dramatic defeats in the process. Considering the physical and emotional toll of all these ups and downs, its little wonder that the serene Swiss is openly pondering the big R. He will be keen to bring up that 100th title sooner or later, especially in a tournament of this magnitude.

The energizer bunny of men’s tennis, Kei Nishikori overcame injury issues that blighted his early season, making a run to the final of the Barcelona Open Final. He enjoyed a solid clay-court campaign before an excellent quarter-final run at Wimbledon, which really reminded the world of his all-court versatility. But his season really burst into life with an epic semi-final tilt at the US Open, which was, of course, the scene of his one Grand Slam Final appearance. He then reached the Japan Open Final before a quarter-final plunge in Shanghai. He then lost to Kevin Anderson in the Vienna Final Open Final, a defeat that has already been avenged this week in Paris. Nishikori seems to have recovered completely from the multiple injury afflictions that he has faced and will prove a feisty competitor.

Federer leads the head-to-head between the two 6-2, actually capturing their last five consecutive matches. That did include an absolutely epic 4th round victory in last year’s Aussie Open. Nishikori has looked rejuvenated in recent weeks and knows that Federer will be slightly jaded after last week’s exertions. This could present the perfect opportunity for Nishikori to break that losing streak against Federer. Federer was clearly exhausted in Basel and may find Nishikori’s engine too intense. Nishikori at 39/20 looks great value to me.


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Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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