Rome Masters Day Three Tips: Game handicap on Kohlschreiber a viable option...

Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic
How fit will Marin Cilic be after missing Madrid last week...

Tuesday's action at the Rome Masters sees a mix of ten first and second round matches on the schedule. Our tennis columnist Dan Weston, fresh off a winner, gives his thoughts...

"Unless we go back a few years, Sock's clay data is far from impressive, and my model liked this price on Kohlschreiber - whose clay data shows that this is his best surface - but I'm a little concerned, given the length of time he was on court yesterday."

Haase gives us a winner on competitive Monday

We had a good start to the week in the Italian capital, with Robin Haase further worsening Daniil Medvedev's clay record on the main tour, and the Dutchman now has to wait and see who his second round opponent will be. If he wins that - Rafa Nadal awaits in the third round...

In fact, this three-setter was one of a number of competitive matches yesterday, with six of the 13 going the distance, while Phillip Kohlschreiber's triumph over Karen Khachanov went the real distance, going to a final set tiebreak. This fell one short of the 'magical 39' game mark, with Kohlschreiber's 7-5 first-set win causing the total to fall one short.

Kohlschreiber can be chanced on the game handicap

Today, Kohlschreiber is back in action, facing Jack Sock, who had a rest day after surprisingly easing past David Ferrer in straight sets on Sunday afternoon. Kohlschreiber is currently the market favourite, at 1.695/7, with the market still not convinced Sock will be anywhere near back to his best.

Unless we go back a few years, Sock's clay data is far from impressive, and my model liked this price on Kohlschreiber - whose clay data shows that this is his best surface - but I'm a little concerned, given the length of time he was on court yesterday.

The handicap line for this is -2.5 for Kohlschreiber, and he's covered this six in 11 times as a 1.501/2 to 2.001/1 favourite on clay since the start of 2017. While it's solid enough, it's hardly a ringing endorsement, but the current 1.9420/21 on this can be chanced on what is a day of little value - perhaps it's a marginally better spot than backing Kohlschreiber to win the match, given that if he is fatigued after just over three hours on court yesterday, he may pull the plug and void a losing bet for us.

Cilic needing to prove fitness in Harrison clash

The other player my model liked was Marin Cilic, as a heavy 1.341/3 favourite over Ryan Harrison. The American, Harrison, has awful clay data and got past Yuichi Sugita in the 'battle of the least worst' on Sunday, saving all five break points he faced.

If he faces this pressure on serve against Cilic, he won't get the job done today, although there is the concern over the Croat, given that he skipped Madrid last week after his opening-round loss to Malek Jaziri in Istanbul.

A number of close matches anticipated by the market

In other matches, the market has now decided that Damir Dzumhur is back to some semblance of competitiveness against Fernando Verdasco, with the Spaniard still a 1.511/2 favourite to progress, while there are a number of other close-looking matches.

Lucas Pouille and Andreas Seppi meet in one of the earlier clashes, with Pouille a slight favourite, and Tomas Berdych is priced similarly against Denis Shapovalov. In truth, it's very difficult to assess Shapovalov on clay right now - my suspicion is that the quick conditions in Madrid really were to his liking last week, and his clay data sample is still small. I was delighted when my model agreed with the market.

Coric and Tsitsipas match should be an excellent encounter

We also have Borna Coric and Stefanos Tsitsipas match up in what should be a high quality next-gen encounter - both are excellent, and improving on clay - while other youngsters Lorenzo Sonego and Nicolas Jarry, against Peter Gojowczyk and Diego Schwartzman, certainly are not without chances of further progression. In fact, Sonego is a justifiable favourite for his match, and a win will see him face either Fabio Fognini or Dominic Thiem in round three.

Tomorrow, we see Rafa Nadal begin his Rome campaign, while Novak Djokovic will face either Nikoloz Basilashvili or the wild-card, Filippo Baldi. The Serb looked in good touch following an easy straight-set win over Alexandr Dolgopolov yesterday.


Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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