The Monte Carlo Masters continues on Thursday with eight third-round matches as the competition hots up. After a Wednesday winner, Dan Weston is back to preview the action...
"One young player who clearly does possess clay ability is Christian Garin, with the Chilean clay-courter winning almost 80% of his main tour matches on the surface in the last two years and already picking up a clay title in his home event in Santiago at the start of March."
Underdogs looking the way forward on day five
Pablo Carreno-Busta got us a nice underdog win yesterday with a straightforward win over Karen Khachanov on a day where most of the big names progressed without much drama. Just one match - Lucas Pouille's win over Alexei Popyrin - went to three sets on what was largely a one-sided day.
Given that the value today lies with several underdogs as opposed to favourites, the hope is that today won't replicate the one-sided dynamic of yesterday, and there are several who look slightly generously priced on today's schedule.
Davidovich Fokina potentially over-rated for Pouille clash
The aforementioned Pouille looked like some value yesterday although it was with the noted caveat that we didn't have a great idea of his current level after a long time absent from tour and a handful of uninspiring matches on his return.
Today the Frenchman faces Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and is a heavy 3.6013/5 underdog to make Friday's quarter-finals. I don't perceive Pouille to be an above-average player on a slow clay court but I'm not hugely inspired by Davidovich Fokina at this stage of his career either. Yes, he's reasonably solid and competent, plus possesses further upside, but whether that justifies his price at 1.374/11 is another debate entirely.
Garin can keep it close against Tsitsipas
One young player who clearly does possess clay ability is Christian Garin, with the Chilean clay-courter winning almost 80% of his main tour matches on the surface in the last two years and already picking up a clay title in his home event in Santiago at the start of March.
Garin has breezed past Felix Auger-Aliassime and John Millman to get to this stage and today faces an upgrade in opposition, against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Since Garin has broken into the top 50, he's faced three players on clay at a similar price range and won two - beating Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman.
The one loss in this price region was against Tsitsipas, in the semi-final of Hamburg last year. That day, Garin lost 5-7 6-3 4-6, to lose by one game from a handicap perspective. Garin actually had more break point chances that day and won 48% of points in the match - it was clearly a tight clash which could have gone either way.
Despite all of this, Garin is 3.7511/4 to beat Tsitsipas today and this looks big to me. Tsitsipas has improved, but it's a stretch to suggest he should be this price against a very good clay-courter. Garin +4.5 games is available at 1.728/11 on the Exchange and that looks pretty decent value to me.
Djokovic and Nadal overwhelming favourites today
In other matches, both Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are overwhelming favourites against Dan Evans and Grigor Dimitrov, respectively, and it would be a major shock if they were tested today, let alone beaten. I'd expect them to continue their straightforward progress to the latter stages.
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