- Chris Sobey
It was close but no cigar for both of my tournament selections, Nadal (10/3) and Nishikori (25/1), at Madrid last week as both made the semi-finals losing to Murray and Djokovic respectively. Hopefully you managed to at least cover your stakes on both players in their respective semi-final matches and overall it was a good week with the 5/1 Treble/Patent and Over the Games bet at Evens returning a nice profit.
On to this week’s ATP action and we have the final ATP Masters Series clay court event of the season at Rome, which leads up to the second Grand Slam of the season the French Open at Roland Garros. Not surprisingly like many of the other Masters Series finals over the last decade, the Rome final has been dominated by Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
Nadal has won six of the last ten titles, the last coming back in 2013 when he beat Federer and he’s featured in eight of the last ten finals overall. Djokovic has won four of the last ten titles, including the last two and he’s featured in six of the last ten finals overall while Federer has never won the event, but he’s featured in three finals including last year when he lost to Djokovic.
The top two seeds have dominated the majority of finals over the last decade winning seven between them. The top seed has only won two of the last ten titles, the last when Djokovic won in 2015 and they were a losing finalist four times in this period, the last time being in 2014 when Nadal lost against Djokovic. The second seed has won five of the last ten titles, the last being in 2014 when Djokovic beat Nadal and they were a losing finalist once in this period, which came last year when Federer lost against Djokovic.
Top seed Djokovic, third seed Federer and fifth seed Nadal line up for a shot at this year’s title again however, only one will be able to reach this year’s final as they’re all grouped together in the top half of the draw. The way Djokovic swept aside all before him at Madrid last week, including Murray in the final 6-2 3-6 6-3, suggests he’s back to his imperious best and with that in mind there’s little point in opposing him this week, as even Nadal is not capable of matching him on the red dirt on current form.
Second seed Andy Murray has been handed a huge slice of fortune this week by avoiding Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. The British number one is starting to hit form again and if he can maintain the level that took him to the Madrid final on Sunday there’s no reason why he can’t make back-to-back Masters Series final’s this week.
None of the top-10 seeds, Wawrinka, Tsonga and Berdych, who are in Murray’s half of the draw have shown any signs this clay court season that there playing well enough to challenge for the title this week and there’s only one player in the bottom half of the raw who’s won a title on the surface this year, which is the unseeded Juan Monaco who won Houston last month.
While there are no outright tournament selections I like this week there are some first round matches that catch the eye. Fabio Fognini plays his best tennis on clay and has shown some good form recently reaching the semis at Munich and nearly beating Nishikori at Madrid last week. He faces Garcia-Lopez today, leads the head-to-head 4-2, including three wins from four on the red dirt and should prove too good for the veteran Spaniard on home soil today.
Dominic Thiem also play’s his best tennis on the red dirt, he’s won one title on the surface this season at Buenos Aires, reached the final at Munich recently and should also prove too good for the unseeded Dolgopolov today. Both Fognini and Thiem can be backed in a Double at Evens, which I suggest backing based on the information above.