With yesterday's schedule interrupted by rain, there's plenty of action on day three of the Monte Carlo Masters. Returning to discuss Tuesday's matches is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"However, I’m looking at Pablo Andujar for today’s recommendation, with the Spanish clay-court veteran a solid performer in slow conditions, even at 35 years of age."
Karatsev progresses to Tsitsipas clash
Only four matches were completed on Monday due to rain, with all winners proceeding without dropping a set. In what looked like the clash of the day in advance yesterday, Aslan Karatsev eased past Lorenzo Musetti to set up an intriguing second round clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas this afternoon - Karatsev's match again looks like the match of the day and his unseeded status means he's a dangerous floater in the draw.
The Russian's clay court record is very strong in the last year or two, albeit at a lower level. Despite limited main tour exposure on the surface, his lower level numbers translate very well to main tour success and in conjunction with his stunning performances away from clay, he's obviously an above-average player at main tour level right now.
This clearly represents a challenge to fourth seed Tsitsipas this afternoon. After opening at around 1.4840/85 - and lower in the general market - the Greek man has drifted to 1.538/15 and this early market support on Karatsev looks justified. I have the duo slightly closer matched than the market does, but that also makes the price movement look very fair indeed.
Berrettini returning to tour after Australian Open withdrawal
Among the other matches taking place today the other second-round match comprises first-round winner Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Matteo Berrettini, who as 8th seed earned a bye in the opening round.
The Italian hasn't been seen on court since he gave a walkover to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open in February, but in normal circumstances the 1.814/5 about Berrettini would look extremely generous. Davidovich Fokina is a decent young player for sure, but Berrettini's clay numbers are very strong and if he's in reasonable shape following those injury issues, I'd expect him to get the job done today.
Djere potentially value against Khachanov
Moving back to the first-round matches, I'm intrigued by a couple of clay-courters who look false underdogs for their respective clashes. Laslo Djere reached the final of Cagliari last week on his preferred clay and lost a tight three-setter to Lorenzo Sonego as a favourite. If the Serbian isn't overly fatigued, he does look reasonable value as a 2.305/4 underdog in these slow clay conditions against Karen Khachanov.
The Russian, Khachanov, has a marginally better than average clay record but relatively worse than his level on other surfaces and he'd probably prefer conditions to be quicker than he's likely to find in Monte Carlo - Djere will likely prefer slower courts.
Andujar much more familiar with conditions
However, I'm looking at Pablo Andujar for today's recommendation, with the Spanish clay-court veteran a solid performer in slow conditions, even at 35 years of age. Today Andujar faces the Australian qualifier, Alexei Popyrin, who is 14 years his junior - and is also a player with little in the way of clay pedigree at professional level. It is, though, worth noting that Popyrin did win the French Open juniors in 2017.
In recent years Popyrin has largely focused away from clay and has played just five main tour matches on the surface. His record on the surface in Challengers is also unspectacular on the surface, and Andujar is a competent enough clay-courter to look like a false underdog at the current 2.486/4.
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