ATP Tennis Betting: Nadal to power past Cilic into Shanghai final

Semi final Saturday in Shanghai features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer trying to set up a title match clash at the 2017 Shanghai Masters.

We still have our outright in contention, with Marin Cilic taking on Nadal, while Federer faces Juan Martin Del Potro in the other semi final – perhaps. 

Federer found Richard Gasquet rather tougher to deal with than he usually does on a hard court on Friday when some ragged play from the Swiss early on saw him fail to break the Frenchman quickly enough for the set one unders to come in.

He still won in straight sets, but Gasquet fans can be encouraged by his efforts this week with the Paris Masters still to come for the Frenchman to aim for.

There was drama in the match before Federer and Gasquet took to the court when Juan Martin Del Potro, unbelievably, managed to injure the same wrist against Viktor Troicki that he injured the last time the pair clashed back in 2012.

And the outcome was the same, with Troicki baffled as to what to do once Delpo reverted to the backhand slice in the same way he was five years ago in Cincy.

All of which means that we can only really look at one semi final, with Del Potro far from certain to even take to the court on Saturday and currently awaiting the results of yet another scan on that wrist.

If the weather forecast is correct we’ll be playing with the roof closed on Saturday, with rain expected from early afternoon right the way through the night in Shanghai.

Rafael Nadal vs Marin Cilic

So, Cilic becomes our 21st outright semi finalist of the 2017 season and all he’s got to do now is beat Nadal then probably Federer to lift the trophy at the Shanghai Masters this week.

Given that opposition and our record of only converting three of the previous 20 semi finalists into titlists this year Cilic backers can be forgiven for being less than bullish about the Croat’s chances in this 09:30 UK time start on Saturday.

Our other outright, Grigor Dimitrov, came within a point of taking a break lead over Nadal in the final set of their entertaining quarter final clash on Friday, but ultimately was unable to keep up the pressure at the death as he so often does against Nadal.

Dimitrov has faced Nadal 10 times in the last five seasons, but Cilic has rarely played the Spaniard over the years and the meetings they have had in the past give no real indication of what’s likely to happen on Saturday.

Cilic was injured when he faced Rafa in Acapulco earlier this season on slow outdoor hard and prior to that they played out a three-setter indoors in Basel in 2015 when Nadal was struggling.

Cilic was a set and a break up in that match too and their only other clashes were six years ago or more, so the head-to-head tells us little.

At least this time both men are playing well and if he brings his absolute A-game to the court Cilic can beat anyone, as his wins at Masters or Grand Slam level over Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer show.

He hasn’t taken on Nadal at this level for six years and the way Nadal is playing at the moment I’m not sure I fancy Cilic to do the business even on a court that’s too fast really for Rafa.

I was hoping that Lucas Pouille would get rid of Nadal early on, however the Frenchman lost to Fabio Fognini in round one, but Pouille did show when he got to match point against Rafa in Beijing how it can be done.

And that was to take the ball very early with pace down the lines and not allow Rafa any time on the ball, but keeping Nadal quiet on any surface requires superb serving, smart tactics and clinical execution when the world number one is on form.

But it can be done. Sam Querrey showed that in Acapulco and had Pouille made one forehand instead of netting it he would have been another non-elite player to beat Nadal of late.

Nick Kyrgios and Denis Shapovalov managed it in the summer too, but Rafa didn’t seem really to be up for either contest and a loss to Gilles Muller at Wimbledon given Rafa’s record there was hardly a seismic shock.

With Federer probably waiting in the final and with a good chance of finally winning a tournament he’s never won as well it’s tough to see Nadal not fancying it and I’m left hoping that Cilic can bring his best form on Saturday.

A tune-up against another lefty in Albert Ramos on Friday won’t hurt his chances but it feels too much of an ask for the Croat and the 2-0 to Nadal seems the likely outcome here at 1.70.

The head-to-head isn’t that relevant, but they’ve never played a tie break against each other in the 12 sets they’ve contested and Cilic has played only four tie break matches in his last 31 completed contests on outdoor hard.

It’s impossible to preview the other semi final really, as who knows if Juan Martin Del Potro will play and if he does what sort of condition will he be in?

The diagnosis is said to be a wrist contusion after the fall in the Troicki match and Delpo has had a splint put in to immobilise the wrist. He’s reportedly going to make a decision as to whether or not he plays in the morning.

On that basis even considering a wager on that semi final seems rather pointless and hopefully Delpo’s latest wrist injury is a very minor one that he recovers from quickly.

So, it’s only one wager on Saturday and while it’s not ideal to be going against my outright pick I don’t see that we have much option with the form and mood Nadal is in right now.

Best Bet
2 points win Nadal to beat Cilic 2-0 at 1.70