• Chris Sobey


Its quarter final days at the Madrid Masters 1000 Series and British number one Kyle Edmunds, who is unseeded this week, continued his mesmeric rise-up the ATP rankings and towards the top off the men’s game, with another impressive win at the Madrid Masters yesterday. After knocking out tenth seed Djokovic he then proceeded to send eighth seed Goffin packing in straight sets, which sets up a potential blockbuster quarter-final encounter against another NextGen and future star of the game Canadian Shapovalov, who knocked out compatriot Raonic in impressive fashion 6-4 6-4.

Little known Serbian and qualifier this week Lajovic, who I have discussed in some past articles about his potential talent, caused the biggest upset of the week and went one big step towards confirming my insight when he knocked out fourth seed Del Potro in three sets yesterday, which was also his first win against a top-ten player. This is Lajovic’s first ever Masters 1000 Series quarter final and he’ll now face another top-ten player, big server and top-class opponent in sixth seed Anderson for a coveted place in the semi-finals.

Second seed and recent Munich champion Alexander Zverev recorded his sixth straight win on clay yesterday when knocking out the dangerous Mayer from Argentina with little fuss 6-3 6-2. The young German is looking in dominant form this week and he will be tough to stop if he keeps using the quicker conditions to his advantage. However, he will face his toughest test so far this week against my one remaining outright selection, the in-form seventh seed veteran Isner (50/1), who gained revenge for his epic three set 2017 Rome Masters 1000 Series semi-final defeat, by defeating Zverev in a classic Miami 1000 Series final, which ended 6-7 6-4 6-4 and was Isner’s first and long overdue first Masters 1000 Series title.

Zverev leads the head-to-head 3-1 and is the hot favourite to progress to his first Madrid Masters semi-final. However, the standout statistic about this encounter can be linked to their last three, which were all close three set encounters, which featured five tie-breaks. They both have first serves that are major weapons and that make them very hard to break and that trend and the closeness of their last three encounters is likely to pan out again today.

Top-seed, defending champion and five-time winner Nadal continued his astonishing run of 12 straight wins in straight sets on the red dirt yesterday, dispatching thirteenth Schwartzman in typical ruthless fashion in front of a patriotic centre court last night. Nadal’s next opponent is fifth seed Thiem and this will be their ninth meeting on the ATP Tour and Nadal leads the head-to-head, which were all on clay. Nadal’s wins came between 2014 and 2018, all six were in straight sets, including the 6-0 6-2 thrashing at Monte Carlo recently and of course the final here last year, which Nadal won 7-6 6-4.

Thiem’s two wins came at the semi-finals at Buenos Aires and at the quarter finals at the Rome Masters 1000 Series last year, which was when Nadal was not 100% and carrying injuries. This should be Nadal’s thirteenth straight sets win if current form and past statistics are anything to go by. The level of Thiem’s performance overall this year and this week suggests he’s not at his consistent best. He struggled to win both his matches this week, having to come from a set down to beat Delbonis and more impressively, Coric yesterday and at least he will be match tough going in to today’s big pressure match.

From a betting perspective I think backing Over 23.5 Games for the Isner against Sasha Zverev match is worth considering given their past three encounters were so close and Isner has played seven tie-breaks in his last ten matches. The quarter final match between the two unseeded NextGen stars Edmunds and Shapovalov should be a highly entertaining encounter if we get a repeat of their 2017 Queens battle, which Shapovalov won 7-6 4-6 6-4, but Edmunds got his revenge this year at Brisbane winning 6-7 7-6 6-4.

As Edmunds has been in much better form this year and climbing the rankings at a faster rate due to his greater experience he’s the clear odds on favourite today, but with the last two competitive encounters being so close, Shapovalov looking in better from this week and having the ability to raise his game to compete with the best, I think it’s worth backing Over 21.5 Games in the match as its seems a worthwhile value option to consider given the analysis above.

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