Shapovalov gets us off to a winning start
We picked up a Monday winner with Denis Shapovalov proving too good for Ugo Humbert in straight sets, and the Canadian faces Andy Murray today in one of the second round matches on the card following the Scotsman's win over Dominic Thiem - who has endured a miserable return to tour so far following long-term injury.
This is one of a few second-round matches on today's schedule, with Novak Djokovic also in action in what could be a tricky match against the enigmatic Frenchman, Gael Monfils, while Carlos Alcaraz also begins his campaign with a clash against another enigma, Nikoloz Basilashvili. Andrey Rublev rounds off the seeds with first-round byes in action today as a heavy favourite over the British wild card, Jack Draper, who has already caused a shock in round one by beating Lorenzo Sonego.
Canadian capable of a double-up
Of those second-round clashes, Shapovalov at 1.594/7 looks to have a good opportunity to back up his round one win last night, with Murray barely having played a main tour clay match in the last few years. Yes, the quicker conditions might suit Murray, but they'll likely suit Shapovalov too. I'm pretty surprised the Canadian hasn't received more market support.
Djokovic unlikely to dominate this week
The other three second-round matches feature heavy favourites, although Djokovic, who is still waiting for his first tournament victory of the season from the three he's competed in, could be vulnerable against Monfils. Several weeks ago in Belgrade, he lost in the final to Andrey Rublev but dropped the opening set in all three of his previous rounds and needed a final set tiebreak just to beat Laslo Djere in round one.
I'd be surprised if we see previous levels of dominance from Djokovic this week, and if it wasn't for a fitness doubt over Monfils which saw him skip April, I'd be more confident of an upset.
Garin could progress past fatigued Tiafoe
Moving back to round one, I don't see too much on the value front although Frances Tiafoe as favourite over Christian Garin is an interesting one, particularly given a tweet I saw suggesting Tiafoe was fatigued following his defeat in the Estoril final to Sebastian Baez on Sunday. I have this as pretty much an even money match based on year-long clay data in any case, so Garin as a 2.206/5 underdog looks to be some slight value here.
Opelka's serve going to be tough to break
The other two meetings which caught my eye from a competitive perspective at least were Reilly Opelka versus Sebastian Korda and Jenson Brooksby against Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Opelka should love the quick conditions here and I can't help thinking that the market pricing which has him as the 2.285/4 underdog are based on 'average' clay conditions as opposed to the quick courts of Madrid. If this match was at, say, Barcelona, I'd agree more with market pricing, but it's not. Opelka has won almost 68% of service points on clay over the last 12 months and that should rise at this venue with the assistance given to his serve here.
Brooksby unproven on clay
Regular readers of my column will know I rate Jenson Brooksby extremely highly and have him marked out as a future top player, but he's rather unproven on clay with only a handful of main tour matches to date, and uninspiring data from them.
Given this, the market is possibly taking a chance on pricing him up at 2.186/5 against the Spanish veteran, Roberto Bautista-Agut, and is clearly factoring in his ability on other surfaces which may or may not eventually translate to clay courts. Let's see if Brooksby does do that, but I think this is a match best watched.
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