Monte Carlo Masters Day Four: Garcia-Lopez can reverse old head to head against Seppi

Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic
Outright selection Marin Cilic gets his campaign underway this evening...
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It's second round action at the Monte Carlo Masters today, with eleven matches deciding who makes it into round three. After a second winner on the bounce, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to look at the schedule...

"The lucky loser, Garcia-Lopez, has much better clay data in the last 12 months - Seppi's really is pretty poor - and also is more comfortable on clay, so I must admit I'm a little confused about why Seppi is a pretty strong favourite to take this."

Struff providing us with another winner on day three

Yesterday's action saw us going a painless two from two so far this week, with Jan-Lennard Struff easing past Yuichi Sugita in straight sets. In addition there was an epic win for Dominic Thiem, in an epic against Andrey Rublev, while my suspicion that there would be numerous breaks of serve in the Gilles Simon and Adrian Mannarino match proved correct, although Mannarino didn't get the result in the third set.

In addition, Ilya Ivashka did cover the game handicap as anticipated against Fabio Fognini, while there also wins for Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez, Diego Schwartzman and the Zverev brothers, among others.

Today's action gets underway as usual at 10:00 UK time, and while there isn't an abundance of value on the card, there's a couple of matches to get our teeth into, and one in particular where I think the markets have it wrong.

Khachanov and Nishikori strong favourites to make round three

There are several earlier matches worth dicussing, with Karen Khachanov a [1.47] favourite to progress past the declining Simon. The Frenchman's serve numbers are dropping almost by the month but today's price doesn't seem hugely wrong - I was hoping for bigger on the young Russian.

At a similar time, Khachanov's compatriot, Daniil Medvedev, faces Kei Nishikori, with the Japanese a [1.35] favourite after getting past Tomas Berdych in the previous round. Again, this seems about right - Medvedev hasn't impressed on clay throughout his young career and while this would be priced quite differently on hard court, such a price doesn't seem noteworthy here.

Djokovic likely to find Coric tougher than Lajovic

Rounding off the earlier matches sees Novak Djokovic, fresh from his thrashing of Dusan Lajovic on Monday, take on the improving Borna Coric, and odds of [1.44] about the former world number one appear quite fair against a player who has really kicked on this year. In addition, yesterday's hero, Struff, could be pretty competitive against Fognini, with the German again looking a little under-rated by the market, this time as an underdog at [3.35].

Later on into the afternoon, Richard Gasquet - if fit - looks big as an underdog against Diego Schwartzman, although the slow conditions at the Monte Carlo Country Club are likely to play into the hands of the diminutive Argentinian, while the pressure is again on Albert Ramos to defend runner-up points, and this time, he's an underdog to do so against Philipp Kohlschreiber, whose clay numbers are better than the level he's exhibiting on other surfaces currently.

Nadal a justifiably short price to get past Bedene

We also see the King of Clay, Rafa Nadal, in action - he's [1.05] to dispose of Aljaz Bedene, who is very competent himself on the dirt, while Milos Raonic's match with Marco Cecchinato has banana-skin written all over it following his laboured three-set win over the local wild-card, Lucas Catarina, in the opening round.

Seppi value as an underdog against Garcia-Lopez

However, the match I want to preview for a recommendation is the one between two ageing veterans, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Andreas Seppi. The Italian, Seppi, is the [1.58] favourite here, and I think this line is pretty absurd.

The lucky loser, Garcia-Lopez, has much better clay data in the last 12 months - Seppi's really is pretty poor - and also is more comfortable on clay, so I must admit I'm a little confused about why Seppi is a pretty strong favourite to take this.

Realistically, the only logical explanation can be the 7-1 head to head record in Seppi's favour, but whether there can be that much credence given to it, is certainly questionable. Many of the matches are from over five years ago, and only two were on clay, and while such a dominant head to head record has to have some importance attached to it, when it is an old one and not particularly relevant to today's surface, it does reduce its influence.

Taking Garcia-Lopez at [2.68] is today's recommendation.

Finally, our outright selection, Marin Cilic, gets his campaign underway, and the Croat is a [1.44] favourite to defeat Fernando Verdasco in the later evening match.


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