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  • Chris Sobey

Tennis


Before moving on to next week’s ATP tennis action I’ll just give a quick run-down of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 Series and it was a week of huge shocks and upsets. Is the King of Clays Nadal’s crown finally starting to slip? He was hot favourite heading in to his semi-final clash after an impressive week but the enigmatic thirteenth seed Fognini shocked the crowd and the world of tennis by bringing the eleven time champions tournament to an abrupt end losing 6-4 6-2.

Top seed’s Djokovic below par form since winning the Australian Open continued last week as he was knocked out at the quarter finals stage by tenth seed Medvedev 6-4 3-6 6-2 who was then upset in the semi-finals by the surprise package of the tournament the unseeded Serbian Lajovic who eventually delivered on his talent by reaching his first Masters 1000 Series final.

The final was deservedly won by veteran Italian and thirteenth seed Fognini who defeated the impressive unseeded Lajovic 6-4 6-4. Fognini has arguably been the best clay courter outside the top-five over the last decade winning seven clay court titles, but Monte Carlo was his crowning achievement winning his first Masters 1000 Series title in his career.

Moving on to this week’s ATP Tour action and there’s two European clay events the ATP 500 Barcelona and a new tournament in Budapest, Hungary that returns for a second season. Barcelona is one of three ATP 500 tournaments played on the red dirt and reigning eleven-time Barcelona winner and top-seed this week Rafa Nadal, will aim to bounce back from his disappointment of losing at the semi-finals stage at the Monte Carlo Masters. Barcelona’s attracted a strong field as usual with attracting ten of the world’s top-twenty. Nadal is top seed, Sascha Zverev has accepted a Wild Card and is second seed, 2017 finalist and third seed Thiem will aim to improve on his Monte Carlo form and two-time (2014 and 2015) winner and fourth seed Nishikori will aim to get his season on track with a good result this week.

The historical statistics at Barcelona bode well for Nadal’s chances of winning an unprecedented twelfth Barcelona title as he’s won seven of the last ten renewals and a Spanish player won eight of the last ten title. The top seed has won six of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2018) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which bodes well for Nadal’s chances this week and it will be interesting if he improves after playing his first competitive tournament on clay last week. The second seed has not performed as well at Barcelona over the last decade winning the title only once during this period (Nadal 2013) and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Nishikori 2016), which does not bode well for Zverev’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have a strong record at Barcelona and a player seeded no higher than five has won the last ten titles (last Nadal 2018); a player seeded no higher than four was a losing finalist seven times during this period (Last Thiem 2018) and an unseeded player has never won the title over the last decade and they were a losing finalist twice during this period (last Tsitsipas 2018)

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with a seeded player no higher than five s they’ve dominated over the last decade. I’m happy to swerve Nadal again this week with added doubt over his physical state. 2017 finalist and Third seed Thiem (8/1) and 2018 finalist Tsitsipas are both worth siding with this week and I’ll opt for Thiem as he potentially avoids Nadal until the semi-final stage.

From the bottom half of the draw seventh seed Medvedev (20/1) has to be followed on his form from last week and this season and I’ll take a chance on the unseeded outsider Garin (300/1) after his impressive run on clay this year that culminated in reaching the final at Houston recently.

As the tournament in Budapest, Hungary is a new event it has little historical data to help analyse the draw, however, we can use historical data from Bucharest the tournament it replaced, as the location and conditions are similar. The top-seed has a good record over the last decade winning four of the last ten titles (last Pouille 2017) and they were a losing finalist three times during this period (last Djokovic 2013) during this period, which bodes well for Cilic’s chances this week. The Second seed has a poor record winning two titles (last Nadal 2012) and they were never a losing finalist during this period, which does not bode well for Dzumhur’s chances this week, which does not bode well for Coric’s chances this week.

Seeded players in general have performed well over the last decade and a player seeded no higher than five won nine of the last ten titles (last Pouille 2017) and a player seeded no higher than thirteen was a losing finalist eight times during this period (last Monfils 2013). Unseeded players don’t have a great record in Hungary over the last decade winning one of the last ten title (last Cecchinato 2018) and an unseeded player was a losing finalist twice during this period (last Millman 2018).

From a betting perspective past statistics suggest siding with a player seeded player from three to eight and not discounting the top-seed given their record over the last decade and unseeded players can’t be discounted since they’ve done well since the change of city and venue the last season. Defending champion and third seed this year Cecchinato (8/1) must be respected again this year having already won a tournament on the surface during the Golden Swing at Buenos Aires.

I’ll also go for a couple of unseeded outsiders who are talented enough to win a tournament of this nature having already done so during their careers. Italian 2018 NextGen sensation Berrettini (25/1) won his first ATP 250 tournament on clay last season and he’s shown signs of good enough form this year that he could be a serious contender for this year’s title. The same applies to Italian veteran Seppi (50/1) who continues to challenge for tournaments of this nature even though he’s approaching his mid-thirties, however, he’s been in great form over the last couple of seasons and consistent which he will hopefully continue this week and improve on in the tougher matches.

Selections:

Barcelona

Thiem Win (8/1)

Medvedev Win (20/1)

Budapest

Checcchinato Win (8/1)

Berrettinni Win (25/1)

Garin Win (300/1)


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