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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Top-ranked Murray should be wary of dangerous Cilic

Marin Cilic should cause problems for Andy Murray
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Day Two
Live on BBC2 & Sky Sports 1 from midday

Andy Murray takes to a tennis court for the first time as world number one when he meets Marin Cilic in the ATP Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena but the three-time Grand Slam champion might find his opponent harder to beat than the odds suggest.

Cilic got the better of Murray in their most recent meeting at the Cincinnati Masters and while it’s fanciful to suggest that the Croat has his measure, he certainly has the ability to cause a minor upset in front of a partisan crowd.

Cilic has been to the O2 only once, in 2014, where he lost all three of his group matches. However, he was hampered by an arm injury that week and should not be underestimated when he is fully fit and on top form.

Murray can thank Cilic for playing a part in helping him reach number one in the world.

The Scot has the been the star of the latter part of the season but Cilic dished out a defeat to Novak Djokovic in Paris, paving the way for Murray’s ascent to the top of the sport.

Murray will not take Cilic lightly but odds of 2-7 are short enough to be ignored. In their last five meetings, Murray has won three but Cilic, tellingly, has won at least a set in four of those encounters and can be backed to repeat the feat at 23-20.

Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori face off in the afternoon match and the betting suggests there isn’t much between the pair.

Wawrinka leads 4-2 in their head-to-head battle but two of those victories came in 2012 and they are tied in four clashes since their 2014 US Open meeting.

The Swiss star came out on top in the semi-finals of the US Open in September before defeating Novak Djokovic in the final to claim his maiden Flushing Meadows crown.

Nishikori, who has yet to taste Slam glory, will be desperate for revenge while both players are aware that being drawn in a group alongside Murray adds significance to this clash.

Wawrinka has never failed to reach the semi-finals in three visits to the O2 but defeat today would put pressure on the 31-year-old going into the remaining group matches.

It’s difficult to make a strong case for either man. Wawrinka’s recent form has been poor since his US Open victory but he tends to raise his game for the biggest occasions while Nishikori has been inconsistent this season but is capable of producing wonderful tennis.

Betfred offer 5-6 that there are over 22.5 games in the match and, with the pair evenly-matched, that could be the way to go.

M Cilic to win at least a set
1pt 23-20 Ladbrokes
Over 22.5 games in S Wawrinka v K Nishikori
1pt 5-6 Betfred

Cilic dished out a defeat to Novak Djokovic in Paris, paving the way for Murray's ascent to the top of the sport
E.W. Terms
Sky bet