World number one Djokovic returned to the winners circle last week landing his second title of the season and a third Madrid Masters 1000 Series title beating NextGen star eighth seed Tsitsipas in yesterday’s final 6-3 6-4. This was Djokovic’s 33rd Masters 1000 Series title drawing him level with Nadal on 33 in total and if he continues to improve on clay this season, he is going to be very difficult to beat at the French Open next month.
On to this week’s ATP Tour action and there’s another Masters 1000 Series clay tournament in Rome to enjoy and if it’s anything like Monte Carlo and Madrid where set for some world class action and the continuation of the battle of the old guard or big three against the best of the NextGen.
Nadal and Djokovic have dominated this event over the last decade; top seed and four time Rome champion Djokovic and second seed, reigning champion and eight time Rome champion Nadal both line-up again as does third seed and four time finalist Federer who impressed on his return to the clay at Madrid last week after a long-lay from playing on the surface at the top flight. The best of the NextGen also line-up for a shot at winning this year’s title. Fourth seed and 2017 winner and 2018 finalist Zverev, 2017 semi-finalist and fifth Thiem and eighth seed Tsitsipas and Madrid finalist will all aim to upset the big three this week.
The top two seeds have dominated most of the last ten finals and titles, Djokovic and Nadal have won eight of the last ten titles and the top seed has a good record winning three of the last ten titles (last Nadal 2018) and they contested four finals during this period (last Djokovic 2016), which bodes well for Djokovic’s chances this week. The second seed also has a good record at Rome over the last decade winning four of the last ten titles (last Murray 2016) and they were a losing finalist four times during this period (last Zverev 2018).
Seeded players, in general, have dominated the tournament over the last decade; a player seeded no higher than sixteen won the last ten titles (nine won by player seeded no higher than five) and a player seeded no higher than thirteen contested the last ten finals (nine won by player seeded no higher than three) during this period (last Zverev 2018). No unseeded player has contested the final over the last decade.
From a tournament betting perspective, it’s hard to overlook Djokovic and Nadal given their record at Rome and with Djokovic contesting the Madrid final at the time of writing I think defending champion Nadal, who has not won a European clay court title so far this season since he started dominating the surface over ten years ago, might return to the winners circle this week after coming close to winning at Monte Carlo but he doesn’t appeal at the prices for me.
From the top half of the draw, top seed Djokovic (3/1) must be sided with on price and given his record at Rome. Also, I’ll take a risk on an unseeded player who looks like a potential future star of the red dirt Wild Card Italian NextGen star Berrerritini (PRICE TBC) who has proven his world class ability on clay by winning two titles in the last twelve months and after winning Budapest this year he followed that impressive win up by reaching the final at Munich the following week losing to fellow NextGen clay star Garin. From the bottom half of the draw ill side with Thiem (6/1) again as he looks the best of the rest from the bottom half of the draw, is drawn to meet Nadal at the quarter final stage and he’s already beaten him on clay this year and has a 4-2 head-to-head winning record against him.
Djokovovic Win (3/1)
Thiem Win (6/1)
Berrettini Win (150/1)
Double @ 3.0
Wawrinka Win vs Goffin
Verdasco Win vs. Edmunds
Sonego vs. Khachanov Over 22.5 Games @ (22/25)