Madrid Masters Day 8: Zverev can finish world-class week in style

Madrid Tennis Stadium
Alexander Zverev looks value to take the Madrid Masters title

Sunday's action on the ATP Tour sees the final of the Madrid Masters, as well as five first-round matches in Rome. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, checks out the value...

"To get to this stage, Thiem's level has not been so impressive as Zverev's. The Austrian has won 67.3% of service points, and 39.9% on return (107.2%) and it is evident that Zverev is the player enjoying these quicker conditions in the Spanish capital."

Thiem and Zverev competing for Madrid glory

As suspected yesterday, Dominic Thiem was able to reverse his head to head record against Kevin Anderson, recording a straight-sets victory, while the same straight-set scoreline was in Saturday's other favourite's favour, as Alexander Zverev got the better of Denis Shapovalov.

Zverev's level this week in the world-class bracket

I mentioned yesterday that Zverev's level this week has been stunning, and of a world-class level. Yesterday's win means that now, he's won 80.0% of service points here, and 43.0% on return (123.0% combined), and he's barely been broken on serve - winning 80% of service points will virtually guarantee this.

To get to this stage, despite that shock victory over Rafa Nadal, Thiem's level has not been so impressive as Zverev's. The Austrian has won 67.3% of service points, and 39.9% on return (107.2%) and it is evident that Zverev is the player enjoying these quicker conditions in the Spanish capital.

Historical head to head record irrelevant

However, to date, Thiem has enjoyed quite a bit of success over his German rival so far in their young careers, winning four of their five head to head matches. Having said this, it's difficult to give much respect to this record - on three occasions, Zverev was ranked outside the top 40, and Zverev has never played Thiem as a top 20 player. In addition, Thiem - despite being a heavy favourite in three of the five matches - never managed a straight-set victory.

In my opinion, this head to head record is utterly irrelevant and simply based 12-month clay data, my model liked Zverev as a marginal 2.1211/10 underdog, pricing him up as a 1.768/11 favourite. Zverev's superb week here in Madrid has considerably boosted his clay data, and currently, he looks slightly better than Thiem on clay, on that basis.

Considering all these factors, I do like Zverev's price today, and he's going to be our recommendation.

Five matches taking place as Rome Masters gets underway

In Rome, the Rome Masters gets started today with five first-round matches and a number of qualifiers also taking place. I'll be back tomorrow with an outright preview, once I know who has qualified, but in the meantime, I'll also give some thoughts on some of these first-round matches, which are likely to be played in medium-fast conditions, albeit a lot slower than Madrid.

Early on in the schedule, it's a mark of how poor Adrian Mannarino has been on clay that the young Italian Challenger player, Lorenzo Sonego, is justifiably a slight 1.748/11 favourite over the Frenchman. Sonego has some talent for sure but is yet to make a breakthrough at this level.

Harrison rarely a heavy favourite on clay

Ryan Harrison has only once ever been a sub 1.501/2 favourite on clay - against Igor Kunitsyn on home soil in Houston in 2012 - so his match against Yuichi Sugita is rather uncharted territory for the American, on what is his worst surface. Sugita's clay data is awful too, and his random run in Barcelona last year is looking more and more like a flash in the pan, having lost all six matches on the surface after that display.

Wawrinka needing to get wins, and quickly

Stan Wawrinka gets his latest comeback started today, as he faces Steve Johnson, and the market makes this a 'pick-em' match, which looks about right, given the obvious fitness concerns on the Swiss man. Wawrinka is defending winners points next week in Geneva, and more importantly, final points at the French Open, and failure to do so would be a disaster for his ranking, so he needs to start winning, and quickly.

Sock's poor level makes Ferrer price attractive

The final match in Italy that I want to discuss is David Ferrer against Jack Sock. Sock's Madrid campaign ended in a final set loss - featuring anger and a bagel - to Pablo Cuevas, and his general level this season has been very poor indeed.

Given this, and the fact that Sock has not performed well on clay for several years now, I'm surprised to see Ferrer as big as 1.9110/11. Sure, at 36 years of age, Ferrer isn't nearly the player he once was, but his data suggests that he should be favourite against Sock, based on both longer-term clay data, and current levels.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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