Rome Masters Day Six: Nishikori accurately priced to convert outright market recommendation

Spanish Tennis Player Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal is a heavy favourite to beat Fabio Fognini this morning...
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Friday's action at the Rome Masters sees four quarter finals on the schedule, and with three looking competitive, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview the card...

"An in-depth look at the career head to head data shows that Fognini has hugely overperformed on break points against Nadal, running 8.9% above expectation (based on service points won percentage) for saving them on his serve, and 2.2% above expectation on return, and this should give some insight into why he's been able to get the better of Nadal several times in the past."

Cilic covers game handicap to give us another winner

We picked up another winner yesterday in what has developed into a successful week in the Italian capital, with Marin Cilic covering the game handicap against Benoit Paire, at very slightly odds against. Having recorded just one loss all week, followers should be in good heart in advance of the weekend.

Fognini head to head wins over Nadal due to break point over performance

Matches in Rome today start at 11:00 UK time, with Rafa Nadal starting proceedings with a meeting against Fabio Fognini. While Nadal's 10-3 head to head lead sounds strong, Fognini's three wins are better than most clay-courters have managed against the Spaniard, and Fognini has shown in the past that he's capable of testing the King of Clay, when on his best form.

Indeed, in 2015, the Italian managed to beat Nadal twice on clay, in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona, but it's also worth noting that since beating Nadal at the US Open that year on hard court, Fognini has only managed one set in five head to head matches.

An in-depth look at the career head to head data shows that Fognini has hugely overperformed on break points against Nadal, running 8.9% above expectation (based on service points won percentage) for saving them on his serve, and 2.2% above expectation on return, and this should give some insight into why he's been able to get the better of Nadal several times in the past. Certainly, a 54.7% service points won percentage against Nadal across all surfaces is unlikely to see him sustain such success.

Today, Nadal is [1.10] to make the semi-finals, and I actually make this a little big, but of course, not particularly actionable.

Cilic accurately priced as market favourite against Carreno-Busta

Nadal's countryman, Pablo Carreno-Busta, takes to the court next, against our hero from yesterday, Marin Cilic, and it's the Croat who is favoured by the market, at a current [1.56].

My model absolutely agreed on this line - in the last 12 months on clay, Cilic has a big edge on serve, and is marginally worse on return, so it's difficult to consider any value here.

In fact, this was a common theme throughout today, and as I've mentioned a number of times previously, later stages of high profile Masters and Slam tournaments are unlikely to offer much in the way of pre-match betting value, with most players' levels well known by the market.

Nishikori slight underdog to convert outright recommendation

I certainly won't recommend a position purely for the sake of it, and of course, we still do have our outright position in play today. With this, we recommended Kei Nishikori to win quarter two at 6/1, and the Japanese talent has a shootout for this bet today against Novak Djokovic.

At the time of writing, Nishikori is [2.48] to beat Djokovic and win us this bet, so those who took this option can - if they wish - hedge by backing Djokovic and guarantee profits regardless of today's outcome, although I do feel that today's price is about right.

In the last 12 months on the surface, Djokovic has broken opponents more (33.7% to 30.0%) and held serve more (81.1% to 79.0%) so has demonstrated he's slightly the better player, but not to any extreme level, and this edge makes the market prices look accurate.

Zverev favourite to continue superb winning run

Finally, Alexander Zverev must be shattered by now after back-to-back tournament wins and a quarter-final here, and I am sure that he's going to enjoy a rest next week in advance of the French Open.

Yesterday, against Kyle Edmund, the German youngster had a very competitive straight-set win over Kyle Edmund, in what was rather surprisingly a contest with a fair few breaks of serve. Edmund certainly wasn't outclassed, creating five break point chances on Zverev's serve, although faced seven on his.

Today, Zverev faces David Goffin and is [1.54] to oust the Belgian, which again looks about right. It would take guaranteed knowledge of Zverev's fitness levels - or lack of it - to make the [2.82] about Goffin look particular value.


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