According to the oddsmakers, Dimitrov is just a -155 favorite to beat the rapidly declining former World No. 4. One would think Dimitrov should be favored more, but given the 4-2 head-to-head record in favor of the Croatian and his success Down Under— Cilic owns a career 32-12 record at the Australian Open— the oddsmakers believe this match is a toss-up.
Cilic should still own the advantage in backhand to backhand rallies, and can still dominate games on serve, but with a 4-6 record in his last 10 matches, it’s unrealistic to expect him to defeat Dimitrov this time around. If Dimitrov strikes his backhand well, this should be a relatively straight forward match.
Below, Dimitrov weathers the storm with two solid backhands then pounces on his forehand. A few strong backhands early on should send a message to Cilic.
However, if Dimitrov starts guiding his backhand instead of accelerating through it, he could be in trouble. In clear control of the point, Dimitrov does nothing with this attackable backhand, and Cilic hits a winner on the very next shot.
By no means expect a straight-set encounter, as both Cilic and Dimitrov are prone to severe lapses throughout the course of a best of five set match, but given the Croatian’s recent form, a victory over the fresh and fit Bulgarian would come as a big surprise.
The Pick: Grigor Dimitrov