There are some mouthwatering match-ups on day five of the Monte Carlo Masters today, with eight third-round matches on the card. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview the action...
"Over the last two years, Dimitrov is 9-10 on clay, and has held serve 77.6% and broken opponents 22.9% (combined 100.5%) and this is barely top 50 level, while throughout his career, this combined hold/break percentage rises to just 104.2%."
Garcia-Lopez succumbs in topsy-turvy final set
We were a little unlucky yesterday with our recommendation, the underdog, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, falling 5-7 in the final set against Andreas Seppi, in what was a topsy-turvy match where both players led by a break in the decider. Seppi now leads that head to head series 8-1, but whether such a dominant head to head lead is merited is certainly questionable.
Djokovic comes through tough Coric test
Some other matches yesterday saw some of the bigger names on tour impress as they bid to recover lost ranking spots following long-term injuries. In particular, Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic will be pleased to come through matches against young-guns Daniil Medvedev and Borna Coric respectively, in straight sets.
Interestingly, Djokovic's performances this week have slightly improved his 12-month clay data, and make today's market line of [1.83] for his clash with Dominic Thiem not far off my model. It would have taken a brave man to predict this price at the start of the week, but given Djokovic's 5-1 head to head lead, my model agreed with the market - projected hold percentages are similar, with a slight edge to the former world number one.
It will be fascinating to see if Thiem can build on his victory in their last competitive head to head match - the French Open quarter-finals last year - against the Serb.
Zverev looks a little short against compatriot Struff
There are several matches on the schedule prior to this, with David Goffin's 'pick-em' clash against Roberto Bautista-Agut likely to be pretty return-orientated, while Alexander Zverev looks a little short at [1.28] against countryman, Jan-Lennard Struff.
Kohlschreiber can take advantage of Dimitrov's weakness on clay
Another German, Philipp Kohlschreiber, is in action as well, and he's an enticing [2.22] underdog to inflict defeat on Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian, Dimitrov, does his best work in quicker conditions, and has a very mediocre record on clay in any case.
Over the last two years, Dimitrov is 9-10 on clay, and has held serve 77.6% and broken opponents 22.9% (combined 100.5%) and this is barely top 50 level, while throughout his career, this combined hold/break percentage rises to just 104.2%. He's patently not at his best on clay, and in particular, on slow clay, and I feel that Kohlschreiber - whose clay stats make this his best surface - can take advantage this afternoon.
Outright selection Cilic shortens following win over Verdasco
In the later matches, Karen Khachanov is the next probable victim of the King of Clay, Rafa Nadal, while the other three favourites - Richard Gasquet, Kei Nishikori and our outright market selection, Marin Cilic, look accurately priced by the market.
Cilic, who we recommended at [17.0] prior to the event, progressed in straight-sets against Fernando Verdasco yesterday evening, and is now into [11.5] on the Exchange for outright glory. As many readers will anticipate, Nadal is the heavy tournament favourite, at a current [1.58].
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