Andy Murray is due to make his long-awaited return to action at the 2018 Queen’s Club Championships, with players warming up for the next major of the year.
Wimbledon is quickly approaching and former world number one Murray will be desperate to be fit enough to play at the third Grand Slam event of 2018.
Recommend Tennis Bookmakers for 2018
However, Murray has not played a competitive match in almost a year and has a tough task in his first round match at the Fever-Tree Championships, facing Australian livewire Nick Kyrgios.
Even with Murray returning to action in a home event he has won five times in his career, the bookmakers appear unconvinced that the Scot can claim the title on his first week back.
Murray is not among the leading favourites for the Queen’s crown, with another former world number one, Novak Djokovic, instead in place at the top of the odds.
Like Murray, Djokovic has had a torrid time with injuries, but the Serb appears to be getting back to near his best tennis, with odds of 9/2 available despite his wildcard status this week.
It promises to be a fascinating tournament as players fine-tune their games in the build-up to Wimbledon, which Murray could yet opt to skip if he does not believe his hip is ready. But where is the best value to be found in the betting odds for the Queen’s Club Championships?
Djokovic Primed for First 2018 Title
Although Djokovic is not seeded for the event, he looks in good shape to pick up what would be his first singles title of the year.
The 32-year-old has had a long road back to full fitness but finally seems ready to compete for tennis championships again, with the bookmakers believing he is the man to beat in London.
Djokovic got to the quarter-finals of the French Open – his weakest major of the four – but suffered a shock loss to Marco Cecchinato, with a semi-final showing in Rome prior to Roland Garros indicating he has been in decent form in the last few weeks.
When Djokovic hits the top of his game he is still one of the most formidable sights in sport and it is John Millman who has the unenviable task of being his first opponent at Queen’s. Should Djokovic progress as he is expected to, his likely opponent in the next round will be Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who won here in 2014.
Dimitrov is at 9/1 despite being the number two seed, the bookmakers appearing certain it will be Djokovic to emerge from what will be one of the must-see matches of the tournament.
Top seed Cilic Seeks Second Queen’s Crown
Marin Cilic is the top seed for the Fever-Tree Championships and he is one of the players who can be considered a possible future winner at Wimbledon.
Queen’s champion back in 2012 and a beaten finalist on two occasions – including last year when he lost to Feliciano Lopez despite winning the opening set – Cilic has a good record here.
The Croatian, ranked six in the world going into the tournament, has another Spanish opponent up first in Fernando Verdasco, with Canada’s rising star Denis Shapovalov likely to be up next.
Cilic has got to at least the quarter-finals in each of the last three events he has entered, suggesting a price as large as 5/1 could be good value for him to triumph at Queens.
Having been in the final three times in the last six years, Cilic has pedigree at the championships but a stacked field could make his route through the draw tricky.
Edmund a better bet than Murray?
Of the British contingent in the field, all eyes will understandably be on Murray.
The Scot still believes he can add to his haul of three Grand Slam titles, two of which came in London at Wimbledon, but first he has to show he is fit enough to make it through a match.
Facing Kyrgios in his first match at Queen’s is a difficult opener, with the unpredictable Australian having impressed in reaching the semi-finals at Stuttgart last week.
Murray’s price of around 14/1 indicates the bookmakers believe this is more of a fact-finding mission for the former world number one rather than a realistic chance of a winning return.
The winner of Tuesday’s mouth-watering clash between Murray and Kyrgios will be another home hope, the impressive Kyle Edmund, who is enjoying a breakthrough year.
Now ranked 17 in the world, the British number one takes on Ryan Harrison in his first round match at Queens and he could emerge from Murray’s shadow at big odds of 40/1.
Another British player, Cameron Norrie, has recorded good results of late but is a rank outsider at 500/1, with 150/1 on offer for Dan Evans to provide the tournament with a home winner.
The form book suggests Kyrgios (10/1) could be the sensible choice from his section of the draw, although the Australian will likely have to beat Cilic if he is to make it through to the final.
Queen’s Club Championships Best Bets
Murray will be the headline act for the home crowd but unfortunately it is hard to see the Scot making an impact, although British fans could be tempted by his price of 14/1.
First round opponent Kyrgios looks a better bet at 10/1, although another Brit – Kyle Edmund – could offer value at 40/1, albeit only with small stakes on an each-way basis.
Djokovic’s lack of titles in 2018 makes it hard to recommend him as the tournament favourite, while his status as a wildcard means he probably has to beat Dimitrov in the second round.
Instead, top seed Cilic is the selection with bookmakers offering around 5/1 on the Croatian, whose big-serving game suits the grass – he also has a strong record at Queen’s Club.
An interesting option from the bottom half of the draw is the similarly tall and powerful South African Kevin Anderson. The third seed has a decent draw and should go deep at 11/1.