The Madrid Masters continues today with the 12 remaining first-round matches taking place, in addition to the opening four second-round clashes. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...
"In the last 12 months - a time when Raonic has had fitness concerns, as well - Raonic has won 70.5% of clay points on serve, to Dimitrov's 63.3%, and won marginally more on return too, winning 37.5% to Dimitrov's 37.3%."
Djokovic edges Nishikori in tight clash on Monday
Yesterday's ten matches in the Spanish capital produced little in the way of tight matches, with a number of one-sided matches eventually developing, although the final set tiebreak between Federico Delbonis and Mischa Zverev was the exception.
The match of the day between Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic went the way of the former world number one, Djokovic, although it's perhaps worth noting that the match statistics indicate that the match was closer than the straight-set scoreline would imply.
In fact, Djokovic only had one more break point (seven to six) in the match, and won 52% of the points - a very low percentage for a straight-set winner - so it's not necessarily wise to draw firm conclusions from this match. Certainly, Nishikori should not be written off, and looks to be getting back towards that top ten level, and there may be some value on the Japanese player in the near future.
Tsitsipas looks a value favourite against Donskoy
Today's action, as is often the case for the early round of high-profile tournaments, features a number of heavy favourites, and if there is value on one of these, it is probably Stefanos Tsitsipas, even having been backed in at [1.28] against Evgeny Donskoy.
Surely only potential fitness/fatigue issues on the part of the Greek talent can stop him defeating Donskoy, whose record on clay in the last few years - particularly from a return perspective - has been nothing short of atrocious.
Ramos and Edmund also with potential as favourites
At slightly bigger prices closer to the [1.50] mark, Albert Ramos and Kyle Edmund look reasonable against two opponents who also have little in the way of a positive track record on the dirt, in Peter Gojowczyk and Daniil Medvedev, respectively. However, they won't be considered for recommendations today, given Ramos' questionable recent level, and some fitness concerns over the Brit, Edmund.
Raonic can be chanced as an underdog against Dimitrov
I'm actually going to look at a slight underdog today, in the shape of Milos Raonic, in what is arguably the match of the day, against Grigor Dimitrov. The Canadian big-server is a current [2.30] on the Exchange, and this seems a generous to me.
Raonic got a good workout yesterday in a straightforward defeat of Nicolas Kicker yesterday, dropping just five games in an hour and a quarter, and this may be of benefit to him today in this much bigger match, against Dimitrov - another player with a relatively mediocre record on clay.
In the last 12 months - a time when Raonic has had fitness concerns, as well - Raonic has won 70.5% of clay points on serve, to Dimitrov's 63.3%, and won marginally more on return too, winning 37.5% to Dimitrov's 37.3%.
It may well be that the market is spooked by Raonic's walkover against Marin Cilic almost a month ago in Monte Carlo, but prior to this, he'd shown a reasonable level in recent months.
Given such a statistical discrepancy, I'm happy to take a chance on Raonic's fitness and make him today's recommendation.
Outright pick Gasquet in action against Lajovic
In today's other matches, our outright selection for quarter two, Richard Gasquet, continues his campaign against Dusan Lajovic, while Juan Martin Del Potro matches up against the inconsistent Damir Dzumhur. With the likes of Roberto Bautista-Agut, Fabio Fognini and a fascinating clash between Pablo Carreno-Busta and Borna Coric also on today's schedule, there is plenty for bettors to get their teeth into on day three.
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