The Pick August 17 2022-1

The last few months have been rougher on world No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz, who has suffered a few disappointing losses after injuring his elbow. The scorching start to the 2022 season seems like it was quite some time ago, but the talent and ability are still there, and it’s only a matter of time before he turns it back on. Perhaps he’ll end up raising the trophy at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati this week, as he is already off to a solid start and now faces a very beatable opponent in world No. 17 Marin Cilic for a quarterfinal berth.

After losing to world No. 12 Jannik Sinner in the Umag final, Alcaraz then lost from match point up to 31st-ranked Tommy Paul in his Montreal opener. He did, however, bounce back in a big way by earning a 6-3, 6-2 win over world No. 72 Mackenzie McDonald to begin proceedings in Cincinnati. That was the first time Alcaraz looked like his true self in a couple of weeks, and he’ll now look to repeat that performance—which only took him an hour and six minutes—against Cilic.


Cilic is 4-1 over his last five matches and has looked decent since having to miss Wimbledon with COVID-19. He did, however, struggle to defeat world No. 44 Emil Ruusuvuori in a match that he had firm control of at one point. After winning the first set, Cilic let a 4-2 lead slip away in the second. He ultimately ended up coming through with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win, but it took three hours and nine minutes—far more taxing on his body than it needed to be. And all in all, the Croatian is just going to have a lot of trouble in this match-up with Alcaraz.

The former US Open champion possesses some monstrous power from the baseline, but opponents can generally get an unforced error out of him by extending points. And there aren't many players, if any, in the world that can keep points alive like Alcaraz. Not only does the 19-year-old have absurd power for a player his age, but he is also the fastest player on tour. That is going to really frustrate Cilic, which is why we ultimately believe there will be a lopsided set or two in this one.

Being that we foresee at least one set in this match resulting in one-way traffic, we’re looking to back Alcaraz at -3.5 games in this one. He’s untouchable as a -425 moneyline favorite, but we’re betting you won’t need to take that. He should be able to cover this spread and get us our second win in a row.

The Pick: Alcaraz -3.5 Games (-140)