The Monte Carlo Masters continues apace today, with a number of first and second round matches on the schedule as some big names begin their campaigns. Following a winner yesterday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to evaluate the value...
"Sugita's run to the quarter-finals in Barcelona as a lucky loser last season was something of an anomaly, having shown absolutely no aptitude on the surface until that point, and his expected hold/break data on clay is very poor indeed, at around the 90% mark at this level."
Djokovic resurgent in Lajovic thrashing
Stefanos Tsitsipas provided us with a winner on Monday with a straight-sets triumph over Denis Shapovalov, and certainly of these two young prospects, it looks like the Greek talent is going to be a much better competitor on clay, at least in the short to medium term.
In other action on day two, Novak Djokovic addressed some of the doubts surrounding his current level while demolishing his Serbian compatriot Dusan Lajovic, for the loss of just one game, although his former top 10 rival Milos Raonic did rather the opposite, quite incredibly dropping a set to the local wild-card, Lucas Catarina.
Sandgren among those in action who are likely to be fatigued
Moving on to today's action, there are 15 matches on the card, with a number of players having to travel from semi-final and final action from last week's clay events in Marrakech and Houston. Tennys Sandgren is one, flying immediately from America, and I think that's a large contributory factor as to why he's rated as a [4.50] shot to beat the inconsistent Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Other players who could be potentially fatigued include Richard Gasquet and Kyle Edmund, and both look value as favourites against Jeremy Chardy and Andreas Seppi, respectively, but with those concerns, we hunt elsewhere for value on day three.
Mannarino can edge Simon in battle of the breaks
Options include Adrian Mannarino against the declining Gilles Simon in what is likely to be a match with multiple breaks of serve - both have very low projected hold percentages, according to my model - while Fernando Verdasco looks reasonable in what the market has priced as a 'pick-em' against another declining player in Pablo Cuevas, although both players have struggled with consistency in recent months.
Ivashka with a chance of keeping it close against Fognini
With those players ruled out for today's recommendations, one consideration was the improving Ilya Ivashka on the handicap - the current market line is +4.5 games against Fabio Fognini, with the Italian clay-courter a [1.22] favourite to move into round two.
However, data suggests that Fognini prefers slow clay, and he'll certainly get that here, so I want to finalise our options with Jan-Lennard Struff at [1.65] against the Japanese player, Yuichi Sugita.
Struff likely to benefit from clay experience against Sugita
Without doubt, Struff is much more adept on clay, playing 194 career matches on clay compared to Sugita's 37, while until his run in Barcelona last season, the 29-year-old Sugita had failed to win a main tour match on the dirt throughout his career.
Sugita's run to the quarter-finals in Barcelona as a lucky loser last season was something of an anomaly, having shown absolutely no aptitude on the surface until that point, and his expected hold/break data on clay is very poor indeed, at around the 90% mark at this level.
Struff's data is more competitive, at just below the 100% level making him just shy of the average player, and my model priced the German at [1.53], making the [1.65] available on the Exchange some value and one which I think is worth recommending today.