Slow conditions anticipated
Nadal and Alcaraz absent
Djokovic the heavy favourite @ 2.186/5
Serve data down on ATP clay average figures
I can never understand why tournaments play several matches on a Sunday. Particularly just three of them, which took place yesterday on a very low profile day in Monte Carlo, with wins coming from Nicolas Jarry, Jaume Munar and in a battle of three tiebreaks, Hubert Hurkacz.
The irony of the situation is that tiebreaks are unlikely to be widespread over the coming week in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
Historical data suggests that the court speed is likely going to be pretty slow for a clay court, with service points won and service hold percentages down on the ATP clay mean over the last few years.
In theory at least, then, this dynamic should lead to a greater than average number of service breaks and double-break sets, and with break-point opportunities likely to come easier than most other venues, key points will be that little bit less valuable.
Clay-courters with potential to make latter stages
As any fan of tennis will be aware, this venue has basically been akin to a home venue for Rafa Nadal.
The King of Clay has won 11 titles here, although the last was in 2018, and is not part of the field this week with injury issues still blighting his season.
Interestingly, Stefanos Tsitsipas, not particularly renowned for his exploits in slow conditions, has won the last two titles here.
The odd clay-courter, including Guillermo Coria, David Ferrer, Albert Ramos, Dusan Lajovic and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, have made the final here since 2005, while Fabio Fognini was a shock winner in 2019, so there could well be scope for a big-priced contender to reach the final at the very least.
Djokovic strong favourite for the title
With Carlos Alcaraz also absent through injury, the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite is Novak Djokovic.
The top seed looks to have a pretty straightforward opener in round two (probably played Wednesday) and is hovering around even money at a current 2.186/5 on the Exchange
However, with Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev in his half of the draw, Djokovic has the potential to be tested by decent opposition.
Finding a player in the bottom half of the draw at longer odds could be the best plan. Due to those historical successes, Tsitsipas at 5.69/2 second favourite will have his supporters, but the Greek man hasn't been in inspiring form of late, failing to reach even the quarter-finals of any tournament since the Australian Open.
Ruud can get through bottom half of the draw
With Taylor Fritz unlikely to be a big fan of slow clay courts, this leaves two seeds in the bottom half of the draw with opening round byes to consider from an outright perspective - Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud.
Ruud is the shorter-priced of the duo at 10.519/2, which is fair enough given his recent record on clay, including in Estoril last week.
In the last 12 months on hard court, Ruud has better numbers on serve by some distance, holding 5% more than Rublev, with fairly similar return data. It's clear that he should be the shorter-priced of the duo.
At prices into double-digits, Ruud appears to be the best prospect from either a back-to-lay perspective, or potentially as an each-way proposition.