Four players remain in the Monte Carlo Masters, and with Rafa Nadal defeated yesterday, the tournament is wide open. Dan Weston previews today's action...
"Evans, who stunned Novak Djokovic in round three and backed that up yesterday with another underdog win over David Goffin, has been matched as high as 500.00499/1 on the Exchange - this adequately demonstrates how much of a surprise it is to see the Brit in a semi-final of a Masters 1000 on slow clay."
Nadal shocked by Rublev in three sets
The big news from yesterday was Rafa Nadal - the King of Clay no less - losing to Andrey Rublev in three sets. The Russian was a set and *4-3 up in set two before Nadal fought back to take the second and the fightback looked on at that point. However, a double-break final set in favour of Rublev saw him progress and cause a real shock.
With Djokovic and Nadal out, can we start to believe that the new generation are capable of challenging the elite duo in Masters and Grand Slams? I certainly hope so - it's fantastic to see a very competitive top end of the ATP Tour and I think it's good for tennis that more than several players have a realistic chance of lifting major trophies.
Evans unlikely to continue stunning progress
The outright market is a little split between Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has very marginal tournament favourite status at 2.285/4. Rublev is back at 2.568/5, with Casper Ruud at 9.008/1 and Dan Evans the outsider at 17.0016/1. Evans, who stunned Novak Djokovic in round three and backed that up yesterday with another underdog win over David Goffin, has been matched as high as 500.00499/1 on the Exchange - this adequately demonstrates how much of a surprise it is to see the Brit in a semi-final of a Masters 1000 on slow clay.
Evans faces Tsitsipas in the opening match today, and given the disparity in outright pricing it's hardly a surprise to see Tsitsipas as the 1.201/5 strong favourite to progress to tomorrow's final. In the last 12 months on clay, Tsitsipas is running at almost 107% combined service/return points won on the surface, far in excess of what Evans can boast.
In fact, Evans had barely won a main tour match on clay until this week so his presence here is certainly unexpected. My model has Tsitsipas at 1.292/7, which makes his market price slightly short, but not unduly so.
Rublev favourite to defeat Ruud
Following this, the second semi-final takes place between Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud, two next-gen players with huge future upside. Rublev, at a year older, is slightly further along the upward curve and possesses more all-court ability at this stage, but Ruud is an excellent clay-courter already at 22 years of age - across the last two years he's won more than 70% of main tour clay matches.
Rublev is the market favourite at 1.364/11 and I think that's broadly correct. He has better clay data - and all-surface data - although it's fair to point out that Ruud has better tournament numbers so far this week here in Monte Carlo, albeit against a slightly lower calibre of opposition.
If there's to be an upset today - which I'm not particularly anticipating - then I think it will be in this second match, with Ruud at least having strong clay pedigree and surface upside. Having said that, I'm expecting a Tsitsipas versus Rublev final tomorrow which should be a fascinating encounter - at this stage, I'd have Rublev as a slight favourite in that potential match-up.
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