The Madrid Masters moves to the quarter final stage today, and following a fascinating day's play yesterday, there's plenty to discuss. Dan Weston is back to give his thoughts...
"The departures of these ‘next-tier’ players in the outright market has had a reasonably sizeable impact on Rafa Nadal’s tournament winner price, with the King of Clay now shortening to 1.845/6 from around 2.506/4 several days ago."
Garin among underdog winners on day five
In Thursday's preview, I mentioned that there was the potential for a one-sided day yesterday with most favourites priced below the 1.402/5 mark. However, this didn't really manifest itself at all, with heavy underdog wins for Alexander Bublik, John Isner and Casper Ruud over Aslan Karatsev, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively.
We also picked up an underdog winner ourselves, with Christian Garin getting past Daniil Medvedev in fairly comprehensive fashion - the Chilean only faced one break point in the entire match against the clay-hating world number three.
Nadal shortens in outright market
The departures of these 'next-tier' players in the outright market has had a reasonably sizeable impact on Rafa Nadal's tournament winner price, with the King of Clay now shortening to 1.845/6 from around 2.506/4 several days ago. Dominic Thiem looks his main challenger, being the only other player in single-digit pricing - the Austrian is available at 5.14/1 on the Exchange currently.
Nadal today faces Alexander Zverev and as is pretty much always the case on clay, is a strong favourite to emerge victorious this afternoon. He's priced at 1.232/9 at the time of writing, and his clay numbers continue to be exceptional. He's currently running at just below 115% combined service/return points won on clay in the last 12 months, which is an absolutely stratospheric figure and shows that even just before he turns 35 years of age, there isn't much sign of decline on his preferred surface.
Tiebreaks the key to Isner's chances
Prior to that match, however, is the opening clash of the day which gets underway at around 12:00 UK time between Dominic Thiem and John Isner. In advance of the tournament, Thiem had been struggling with a knee injury but has won in straight sets as a heavy favourite in both matches so far.
Having said that, a 7-6 6-4 win, winning 53% of points in the match, over Alex De Minaur on clay isn't a ringing endorsement of Thiem's current level - the Australian doesn't have particularly strong surface numbers - and it will be interesting to see how he fares against the big-serving Isner, who appears to be enjoying the quicker conditions in Madrid and doing what he often does in underdog victories, winning tiebreaks.
If there is a recipe for another Isner victory today, this will be the likely outcome - Isner is going to have to serve well and then ride the variance rollercoaster in tiebreaks, which is possible. I make the market line on Isner of 4.10 pretty accurate, but the match in these quicker conditions in Madrid is not a foregone conclusion.
Berrettini with potential further clay upside
Two younger clay-courters have also progressed to this stage, with Casper Ruud and Christian Garin continuing to impress on their preferred surface. Ruud is a strong favourite at 1.341/3 over Alexander Bublik, which looks about right to me, while the market also looks pretty accurate valuing Garin as an underdog at 2.6613/8 for his clash with Matteo Berrettini.
I quite like Berrettini's upside right now on clay - he's running at around 108% combined service/return points won on the surface in the last 12 months - and he could be one of the bigger-priced contenders for the latter stages of the French Open. While I'm not reading too much into performances in Madrid with regards to expected levels in Paris - conditions are markedly different - a strong performance from Berrettini can only add to that confidence level on him in advance of the French Open.
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