Madrid Masters Semi-Final Tips: Berrettini potential underdog value against Ruud

Spanish Tennis Player Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal was shocked yesterday by Alexander Zverev...

It's semi-final day at the Madrid Masters today, and with the tournament wide open following Rafa Nadal's exit yesterday, Dan Weston returns to discuss Saturday's two matches...

"There are several reasons why I think Berrettini should be favourite. Firstly, he has a better combined service/return points won percentage on clay in the last 12 or 24 months, and comes into the match on a seven-match unbeaten run having won in Belgrade several months previously as well."

Nadal exit has huge implications for the outright market

Rafa Nadal, the King of Clay was shocked yesterday by Alexander Zverev with the Spaniard's relatively unimpressive record in Madrid (compared to slow clay venues, at least) continuing with a straight-sets defeat.

On occasion, you see a big name beaten when a heavy favourite and it will be a variance-heavy defeat, with the bigger name just losing a high percentage of key points and not taking their chances. However, this loss for Nadal was not that - he only won 46% of points in the match and created just two break point chances in 10 return games - and Zverev was a deserved winner according to the stats.

The implications for the outright market are huge, with Nadal's loss taking over 50% of the implied winner percentage out of the market, and all four semi-finalists are now in with a realistic chance of lifting the trophy. All are below 7.06/1, with Zverev the 2.767/4 favourite after getting past Nadal, and Dominic Thiem, who got the better of John Isner in three sets yesterday, the second-favourite at a current 3.3512/5.

Market keen on Zverev against Thiem

These two players actually meet today in the first semi-final, which is scheduled to take place at 1500 UK time this afternoon, and this seems like a logical place to begin our discussion on today's action.

Despite being the less illustrious player on clay and having worse clay data over the short and medium-term, Zverev is the market favourite at 1.768/11 to make the final at Thiem's expense, and I think there are several reasons which could be behind the rationale of the market at this stage.

Firstly, Thiem came into the tournament with a knee injury and having not played a competitive match for six weeks or so, and furthermore, there's the classic case of recency bias with Zverev beating Nadal in straight sets yesterday and Thiem struggling past a hard-courter in a deciding set.

It's worth noting as well that Thiem has beaten Zverev in eight of their ten meetings, and has won all three in the last 18 months, all as a favourite. In the US Open final last September, Thiem was priced around the 1.351/3 mark, and that was on hard court where the ability differential between the duo should be smaller in theory.

Zverev does possess slightly better data this week in Madrid - notably on return - which perhaps has an influence too, but if you think Thiem is in decent physical shape then he looks the value here at 2.285/4.

Berrettini with better clay data than Ruud

Finding value in the latter stages of big events is often quite rare, with the levels of the bigger names pretty exposed generally. However, I'm surprised to see Matteo Berrettini the 2.285/4 underdog for his match with Casper Ruud.

There are several reasons why I think Berrettini should be favourite. Firstly, he has a better combined service/return points won percentage on clay in the last 12 or 24 months, and comes into the match on a seven-match unbeaten run having won in Belgrade several months previously as well.

It's extremely likely that Berrettini will need to break Ruud's serve in order to win, though, and that hasn't happened against the Norwegian in any of his four matches so far, and I think this is what is influencing the market here to some extent. However, I'm a believer that Berrettini is slightly under-rated on clay and could well be a live outsider for the latter stages of the French Open in a month's time, and he's today's recommendation at that underdog price this afternoon.

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