Following a rain-affected day in Rome yesterday, there's only one new match on the schedule to discuss today - the semi-final between Reilly Opelka and Rafa Nadal. Dan Weston gives his thoughts...
"At this stage, it's four underdog wins in a row for Opelka but, based on market expectations and also my own expectations, a fifth underdog victory and of course, the biggest one so far, is likely to be a step beyond him."
Opelka and Nadal victors on variance-heavy Friday
Prior to the rain yesterday, both Opelka and Nadal won in straight sets, although it was a frustrating day for our recommendation, Federico Delbonis. He saw all of his four break point chances saved and only lost four fewer points in the match despite losing in straight sets. It was one of those variance-heavy matches which unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of.
Nadal's victory over Alexander Zverev earned him immediate revenge for his loss against the German in Madrid last week, with a 2-0 triumph although he saved nine of ten break points en route to that win, which certainly isn't a positive moving forward.
Opelka's break-point overperformance likely to mean-revert
Despite this, Nadal is an overwhelming 1.081/12 favourite to get the better of the big-serving American this afternoon and based on short and medium-term clay data, this looks about right. For example, in the last two years, the duo have won a similar percentage of service points but Nadal has almost a 20% advantage on return points won - this isn't far from being the best returner on tour on clay versus one of the worst.
During this time period, Opelka has overperformed (based on service and return points won expectations) on break points.
Unfortunately for any player, and we've seen this numerous times in the past with various players, this is likely to mean-revert in the long-term and goes some way to explaining his pretty random run to this stage here in Rome.
Fifth underdog win in a row for Opelka unlikely
At this stage, it's four underdog wins in a row for Opelka but, based on market expectations and also my own expectations, a fifth underdog victory and of course, the biggest one so far, is likely to be a step beyond him. He's probably going to have to serve lights-out and then continue that break point overperformance in order to create a real shock today - tiebreaks are also likely to be part of any shock result as well.
Djokovic heavy underdog to turn Tsitsipas clash around
The winner will face one of Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Lorenzo Sonego or Andrey Rublev, with the latter duo meeting at 10:00 UK time in their delayed quarter-final. Djokovic is up against it so far in his clash with Tsitsipas, being 4-6 1-2* down to the Greek man and currently trading at 4.507/2 on the Exchange to turn it around and make the semi-finals.
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