It's quarter-final day at the Rome Masters today, and after a day full of drama on Thursday, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to discuss the schedule ahead...
"Against a solid competitor on their favourite surface in Delbonis, I don't mind the Argentine for another recommendation - albeit a fairly cautious one - at the current 1.705/7."
Underdogs perform well yesterday in Rome
There were plenty of talking points from yesterday's action, with heavy favourite defeats for Aslan Karatsev and Dominic Thiem to Reilly Opelka and Lorenzo Sonego, respectively. Another market favourite who lost was Felix Auger-Aliassime, with the Canadian falling to our selection, Federico Delbonis, in straight sets to give us a second consecutive winner in Rome.
Also pushed was Rafa Nadal, who needed to fight back from a set down and a set and break down to defeat Denis Shapovalov in a final set tiebreak - he also needed to save two match points at *5-6 in the third set as well. He's now 2.6813/8 to win the tournament on the Exchange which is similar to his pre-event price.
Novak Djokovic, after getting past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets yesterday, has shortened from a pre-tournament 4.804/1 to a current 4.10. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev are all in single-digit pricing, with Opelka, Sonego and Delbonis the real outsiders around the 80.079/1.
Delbonis capable of getting past Opelka
Two of those - Opelka and Delbonis - meet today in the first quarter-final on court. Two weeks ago, if someone said that Opelka was going to be in the quarter-final of one of the two clay Masters events which have taken place this week and last week, most people would have expected it to be in Madrid with the quick conditions likely to give greater assistance to the American's big serve.
Instead, Opelka got beaten by Dominic Koepfer in his opener in Madrid, but has reeled off three consecutive underdog victories here in Rome with all of Richard Gasquet, Lorenzo Musetti and Aslan Karatsev being defeated in straight sets with the assistance of just one tiebreak as well. In fact, Opelka's serve hasn't been broken this week, but there's relative overperformance on break point chances on return from the small sample across those three matches combined.
I can't help thinking that Opelka is a little overvalued by the market here.
He's done well to get to this stage but had very little clay pedigree in advance of this week, barely having won a match on the surface in his entire career. Against a solid competitor on their favourite surface in Delbonis, I don't mind the Argentine for another recommendation - albeit a fairly cautious one - at the current 1.705/7.
Nadal much bigger-priced against Zverev than last week
Rafa Nadal hasn't been as dominant in the last couple of weeks as some might have expected, and that's probably reflected in that odds-against outright price. He was around 1.251/4 last week in Madrid - in quicker conditions less likely to favour him - against Alexander Zverev, and lost 4-6 4-6, but there's a chance of immediate revenge today in Rome with Nadal bigger at a current 1.4840/85 to defeat the German.
I'm not a huge fan of large short-term price changes in a short period of time, and the 20 or so ticks today is certainly that. Nadal also looks slight value today, in my view.
Another tight match between Djokovic and Tsitsipas in prospect
In the other matches, Novak Djokovic looks fairly accurately priced at 1.635/8 for his clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas. They met in the French Open semi-finals in October last year and Djokovic was around the 1.3030/100 mark that day - illustrating the improvement in Tsitsipas' game in recent months, particularly on return.
That meeting went the full five sets and I'm expecting a competitive match today with it certainly not being a foregone conclusion that the world number one will triumph.
Rublev favourite to get past Sonego
Finally, Andrey Rublev is 1.3030/100 to get the better of Lorenzo Sonego, who has done very well to get to this stage in his home country. Sonego is a strong clay-courter and is another player showing improvement in recent months, but Rublev is still the better player based on year-long data and while that price looks a few ticks short, I don't think it's hugely out of line.
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